In 1960, NHL player George Armstrong decided to move his family to Leaside, so that his children could all attend the same school. Meanwhile, each day he served as captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs on the ice and off.
Nearly five decades later, Armstrong has earned recognition in his adopted home – in the community’s sports hall of fame.
“I chose Leaside to live in and I’ve never been disappointed with that choice,” Armstrong said. “And now the cream that comes to the top of the milk is me being inducted into the Leaside Sports Hall of Fame.”
Armstrong was inducted into Leaside’s Sports Hall of Fame on Nov. 20 for his contributions to the game of hockey throughout an illustrious career. Armstrong received a commemorative plaque for his accomplishments in front of family and friends.
The 55-year resident of Leaside posed for pictures, signed autographs and engaged in light-hearted banter about “the good old days” with former Leafs teammates Eddie Shack and Bobby Baun, whom he thanked for their support over the years.
“I’m especially thankful to have my old teammates come out here for me,” Armstrong said. “They’ve added a great deal to this special occasion.”
“The Chief,” as he was he was affectionately known, was named captain of the Leafs in 1957. He led Toronto to four Stanley Cup victories during his career.
Brian McFarlane, former Hockey Night In Canada host, spoke at Friday night’s ceremony, and paid tribute to Armstrong with a poem full of admiration for the former hockey hero.
“George doesn’t deserve this honour, just for all the goals he scored, but also for his consistency,” McFarlane said. “I remember him giving full effort in every game he played.”
Armstrong was once recognized by former Leafs owner Conn Smythe as “the best captain, as a captain, the Leafs ever had.” For McFarlane, it was also the case that Armstrong’s leadership qualities during his playing days were second to none.
“Leadership is inborn in some players; if you get 20 guys in a dressing room invariably one of them will step forward and take a leadership role without anyone pushing them to do it,” McFarlane said. “That’s the kind of guy George was.”