Toronto Maple Leafs: World War II Veterans
In my last article I talked about the war contributions by former Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe. In this article I will take a look at a few other Maple Leafs who took part in World War II.
Syl Apps left the Maple Leafs after the 1942-43 season to serve in the Royal Canadian Army. Apps would go on to serve in the war for two years until the war ended. During those two years Apps continued to play hockey on a number of military hockey teams. Apps would return to the Maple Leafs during the 1945-46 season and would serve as team captain.
Turk Broda joined the Army in 1943 and was stationed in England. He would stay in England until the war ended in 1945. Much like his teammate Syl Apps, Broda would spend some of his time in England playing hockey. Broda returned to the Maple Leafs partway through the 1945-46 season.
In 1940 at the age of 16, Johnny Bower lied about his age and enlisted in the Canadian Army. From 1940 to 1943 Bower was stationed in england as a gunner with the 2nd Canadian Division. In 1943 he was discharged from the Army due to rheumatoid arthritis in his hands. During the 1953-54 season Bower would begin his Nation Hockey League (NHL) career at the age of 29 with the New York Rangers. Bower was later claimed by the Maple Leafs in the 1958 Inter-League draft. He would stay a Maple Leaf until he retired after the 1969-70 season.
Whether it was missing two seasons of professional hockey or enlisting at the age of 16, these three men made their country proud. All three would go on to have Hall of Fame careers and become Maple Leafs forever.