#12: Toe Blake
They say superstars don’t make great coaches. But Toe Blake defies that logic. He was a great player on the ice, and an even better coach.
Blake was a winner wherever he went. He was part of the Sudbury Cub Wolves, a junior hockey team that won the Memorial Cup in 1932.
He first played in the NHL with the Montreal Maroons. He had an forgettable rookie season, getting no points in eight games, but he stuck around enough to play one game in the finals. The Maroons won the Stanley Cup that year, and Blake had his name engraved on the Cup.
He was in the minors the next season when the Montreal Canadiens traded for him, and was called up to the big club.
Despite the fact he joined the Habs in the late 1930s, when they started tailspinning into becoming the worst team in the league, his numbers continued to improve.
He scored at least 10 goals in every NHL season he played with the Habs, except for the first season when he played 11 games, and his final season. In between, he was a great scorer, getting at least 20 goals six times.
1939 was probably his best season. He led the league in points, won the Lady Byng as the league’s most gentlemanly player and the Hart trophy as the league’s most valuable player.
In 1940, he became the team captain, and led the Habs out of the basement. The team won the Stanley Cup in 1944 and 46.
After retiring because of injury, Blake got involved in coaching. His first season with the Habs was in 1955. He won five Stanley Cups in his first five years of coaching. In total, the Habs won eight Cups in 13 years with Blake as the head coach.
He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1966.
For more on Toe Blake: