Toronto Maple Leafs: Remembering George Armstrong’s legacy as captain

Former Leafs Captain George Armstrong waves to the crowd. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Former Leafs Captain George Armstrong waves to the crowd. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images) /

Growing up as a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, it was hard to not hear about the impact George Armstrong had even though his playing days came well before my time.

Many have probably seen the last time the Maple Leafs lifted the Stanley Cup in 1967 whether in video montages or books associated Armstrong as the leader of the greatest decade in team history. He had a great nickname as the “Chief” of the Leafs dynasty and was also one of the first players of Indigenous descent in the NHL.

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For 12 seasons, Armstrong wore the captain’s patch and helped the Leafs win four Stanley Cups. He wasn’t a superstar player by any means but his teammates and coaches respected his dedication to putting the team first.

"“George Armstrong did more for the Maple Leafs than any other hockey player who played for me,” former head coach Punch Imlach wrote via Sportsnet. “He always felt that he had a responsibility to the game, that it gave him a lot and he was always trying to put some of it back.”"

Really, you could say that Armstrong set the standard of what it meant to be a Maple Leaf and how a player should conduct themselves. He put the team first and made sure other players followed his lead.

Look no further than what Sheldon Keefe had to say about Armstrong before the Leafs took on the Calgary Flames in the first game since the news of the “Chiefs” death.

"“Normally 90 minutes before a game, we have a meeting where we cover a lot of our plans and preparing for the opposition,” Keefe said, “but (Sunday), we made it about George. I shared a video of him and had a conversation about him and his impact on our organization.“Leaf Nation is as strong as it is because of the efforts of people like George, in particular that era (the 1960s) when they’re winning the Stanley Cups.”"

Armstrong’s legacy goes hand-in-hand with many other legends like Johnny Bower, Turk Broda, Syl Apps, Ted Kennedy and Charlie Conacher who were the typical old-school leaders that laid the foundation of the Leafs’ success. Without them, Leafs Nation wouldn’t be where it is today.

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Do you have any memories of Armstrong from his time with the Maple Leafs? Did you ever get to meet him? Let us know in the comments below.