NHL icon Eddie Shack, best-known for scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal in 1963 for the Toronto Maple Leafs, has passed away at the age of 83 after a battle with throat cancer.
The Maple Leafs made a Twitter post announcing their former forward’s death on Sunday morning.
Shack Was One of NHL’s Most Colourful Characters
Shack, born in Sudbury, Ontario in 1937, enjoyed a 17-season, 1047-game NHL career between 1959 and 1975.
Between the New York Rangers, Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, Buffalo Sabres, and Pittsburgh Penguins, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Shack recorded 239 goals and 236 assists for 465 points. He won four Stanley Cups with the Maple Leafs — in 1962, 1963, 1964, and 1967 — and was a three-time all-star.
Also known as “The Entertainer” and “The Nose,” Shack had a larger-than-life personality on and off the ice. The moustachioed left-winger would leap through the air, pounce upon the shoulders of opposing players, do figure-skating maneuvers during games, engage in stick-swinging duels with his rivals, shower coaches in snow, and even steal hats off of policemen, THW’s own Nathaniel Oliver wrote in a 2018 feature on Shack.
He was such a ham that he had a novelty song written about him by Brian McFarlane, performed by The Secrets, called Clear the Track, Here Comes Shack. The ditty reached #1 on the Canadian pop charts and actually charted for nearly three months.
The course went as followed:
Clear the track, here comes Shack
He’ll knock you down and he’ll give you a whack
He can score goals, he’s got a knack
Eddy, Eddy Shack
Shack Enjoyed Long Career, Popularity
Shack made his NHL debut in the 1958-59 season with the New York Rangers but was traded to the Maple Leafs in November, 1960.
While he was mostly a third-line agitator who didn’t show up on the scoresheet too often in his early years, he was a favourite among fans and teammates alike for his genial nature and light-natured take on the game.
His 1963-Cup winning goal, for which he’s best remembered, was no beauty — it deflected in off his backside with seven minutes to go in Game 5 against the Detroit Red Wings. In fact, he claimed he was just trying to get out of the way.
It was only in his late 20s and early 30s that Shack truly came into his own as a goal scorer. He really broke out in 1965-66, potting 26 tallies, 10 more than he ever had before in a single season.
That was his first of five 20-plus goal seasons for Shack: he accomplished the feat in 1967-68 in his first campaign with the Bruins after being traded from the Maple Leafs, in 1968-69 with the Kings, in 1970-71 with the Bruins/Kings, and in 1972-73 with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Shack returned to the Maple Leafs for the final two seasons of his career before retiring after the 1974-75 season at age 38.
Shack Never Changed
Would a person like Shack just fade away after his NHL career ended? Most certainly not.
His personality led him to become an advertising frontman for a number of different products and brands, including Canadian soft drink franchise Pop Shoppe and Esso gas stations. He even had a doughnut shop named after him in Caledon, Ontario.
After hanging up his skates, Shack revealed he had been illiterate for most of his life. As a result, he became an advocate for literacy programs in Ontario.
Tributes have been pouring in from around the hockey word, including from fellow Leafs legend Doug Gilmour, who said “Eddie Shack taught me two important things — see humour in just about everything, and live like a Champion… So sad at the loss but so happy to have known him.”
Although he didn’t possess anywhere close to the most pure talent, Shack carved out a long and productive career for himself and was the genuine article, beloved by many. There will never be another player or man quite like him, and the legacy he left will never die.
Declan Schroeder is a 26-year-old communications specialist and freelance journalist in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He holds a diploma in Creative Communications with a major in journalism from Red River College and a bachelors in Rhetoric and Communications from the University of Winnipeg.
Deeply rooted in the city’s hockey culture, the original Jets skipped town when he was two and the 2.0 version came onto the scene when he was 17.