The 2016-17 season marks the centennial year for one of the NHL’s most storied franchises – the Toronto Maple Leafs. Over those 100 seasons, the Leafs have scored thousands of goals. But what if you were asked about their first goal in franchise history?
Would you even know where to start? Would you recognize the names on the team or do these players simply lack the recognition they deserve in building such an important franchise?
The name is George Patterson. While he only played 29 games for the Toronto’s NHL franchise (the St. Pats and Maple Leafs) managing seven points over that span, one of his goals went down in the history books for the Maple Leafs’ franchise.
Leading to the Film
That’s where film producer Dale Morrisey and Wandering Journalist Productions Inc. (WJP) come in. Morrisey was approached in August 2015 by a man by the name of Ken McCullough from Napanee, Ontario. McCullough brought the producer the story of Patterson and the first ever Maple Leafs’ goal – a story Morrisey simply couldn’t turn down.
“Like The Father of Hockey, it wasn’t just a hockey story,” said Morrisey via email comparing his most recent project to another hockey documentary he released. “It was a human story and was clearly going to be a history film as well. I could see instantly that [Patterson’s] story mirrored the story of the Leafs franchise. I was also struck by the sadness, the tragedy in the tale. It also hit me, that as a life-long Leafs fan, I knew the team’s history pretty well and had no idea who this player was. Imagine how little he was known or remembered by the rest of the hockey community.”
Patterson spent just 29 games with the Maple Leafs (and St. Pats) scoring five goals and seven points before spending time with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, New York Americans, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Eagles. He collected 78 points (51g-27a) over a 284-game NHL career.
Morrisey’s film captures a career that has long been forgotten – the career of a player that opened the doors to one of hockey’s most historic empires and seemed to simply disappear into the record books. But in producing the documentary, Morrisey learned much more about a player that actually left a lasting impression on the game.
“When I started the film production process, especially early on, I was told again and again by those who were supposed to be ‘in the know’ that George was a cup of coffee player in hockey,” said Morrisey. “What I discovered early on, he was actually a really good player – not just a checker, but a guy who could patrol his wing, play defence, hit (big thundering hits), fight a bit and had soft hands as well. He was a prototypical power forward long before the term came to be used.”
The documentary goes on to tell the story of how he continued his career in the AHL following his departure from the NHL (and other minor leagues) and the coaching career that led to an OHA ban that lasted 20 years.
The Movie, the Morrisey and the Recognition
The film itself covers everything from Patterson breaking into professional hockey to his stint with the Leafs, the first goal in franchise history and all the in-betweens that led to his disappointing departure from the hockey world – after his OHA ban. But Morrisey tells the story in a way that doesn’t just draw on the factual moments of the player’s career. Instead, he uses anecdotes from hockey historians, other former Leafs and voiced over newspaper headlines for Patterson’s playing days to tell the tale of the Leafs first goal scorer.
After all, this isn’t Morrisey’s first rodeo. Morrisey also directed and wrote a documentary called The Father of Hockey which told the tale of Captain James Sutherland and his involvement in the game of hockey and the sport’s Hall of Fame.
But for Morrisey, there was something special about telling the story of the very first Maple Leafs goal. A fan of the Toronto franchise, he said the entire process of creating this documentary was rewarding.
“As with any history film I tackle, it has been about bringing a ghost back to life, if only briefly,” said Morrisey. “But even more, in George’s case, it has been about getting him his due respect in the Kingston, Ontario sporting community. I hope we can get him inducted in this year’s class for the Kingston Sports Hall of Fame.”
— HockeyLostBoy (@HockeyLostBoy) October 14, 2016
While the Leafs haven’t been the most in touch with their historical past until recently – bringing back former Leaf Dave Keon and retiring formerly honoured numbers – there’s another goal that Morrisey has in mind with the resurfacing of this long lost story.
“I would like to see the Leafs do something small to recognize he scored the first goal in their history as the Leafs,” he said. “Maybe a small plaque at the ACC or maybe have his grandson Brian, who lives in Kingston, drop the puck at a game closest to the date of the night of that first game.”
Regardless of what the Leafs do, one thing is for sure. Morrisey has taken the time and put forth the effort to uncover the story of the Leafs first goal scorer and give him the recognition that he has so long deserved with this film – Hockey’s Lost Boy.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.