Johnny Bower receives a fitting sendoff

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 15: Retired Maple Leaf legend Johnny Bower watches as his
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 15: Retired Maple Leaf legend Johnny Bower watches as his /

Whether you met Johnny Bower or not, Wednesday’s tribute at the Air Canada Centre confirmed how much the Toronto Maple Leafs great was loved.

The list of accolades Johnny Bower achieved during his playing career, including 12 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, is nothing short of remarkable; four Stanley Cups, two Vezina Trophies, Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, one of the 100 greatest NHL players of all time. The list goes on.

And yet, it all pales in comparison to what Bower achieved off the ice. You only had to be at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday afternoon for proof of how beloved he was, as the Leafs and the rest of the hockey world gave him a fitting sendoff.

Among those in attendance were Leafs greats Darryl Sittler, Doug Gilmour and Dave Keon, along with the entire current Leafs team and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Even Montreal Canadiens legend Yvan Cournoyer was at the ACC, to give you some idea of how much Bower was loved by friends and foes alike.

This was something Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan touched on, when talking about the greatest goaltender in franchise history. As reported by the Canadian Press via Sportsnet, Shanahan said:

"“I’ve seen videos recently of him helping a Montreal Canadien who had crashed into his net get untangled, I’ve seen even Gordie Howe put his arm around him after just losing the Stanley Cup to Johnny Bower and the Toronto Maple Leafs. That’s what people thought of him.”"

On Dec. 26 Bower died at the age of 93, after a short battle with pneumonia. However, Wednesday was all about celebrating his life, rather than mourning his passing.

More from Toronto Maple Leafs

In that respect, all three of Bower’s children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren were at the ACC, to honour him. They made sure to share their memories of him, to give everyone an idea of how wonderful he was.

As reported by Sportsnet‘s Chris Johnston, this included revealing how far the Prince Albert, Saskatchewan native would go, to make everyone laugh. Johnny Bower III talked about how his grandfather would take out his dentures, or don a women’s bathing suit – anything to put a smile on the faces of those around him.

There really was no better embassador for the Toronto Maple Leafs. As per Johnston, former Leafs; captain Gilmour said:

"“What do we have here in the GTA, seven-million people? Johnny probably knows about five (million).”"

And in a nutshell, that summed Bower up best. Whether you met him or not, you felt like you knew him.

This is what made the three-time Calder Cup winner so special and why he will be sorely missed by everyone. Rest in peace Mr. Bower.

Next: Leafs legend Johnny Bower passes away

Where you able to attend the tribute for Bower on Wednesday, at the ACC? If so, what did it mean to you to be there? Regardless, what are your fondest memories of one of the Toronto Maple Leafs all-time greats? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.