Can you the recall the days when the Toronto Maple Leafs were Stanley Cup Champions? Those days are long gone, but for some, the memories of those glory days are still very real. Sharon Jull (nee Burnett) is the daughter of former Toronto Star reporter, Red Burnett and was a regular at Maple Leaf Gardens beginning from the age of 3 until her father Red retired from the Star in 1975. I listened to her stories like a wide- eyed kid at Christmas. “I was there at the Gardens when the Leafs won the final game against Montreal 3-1 for the Cup in ’67,” Jull states matter of factly. My jaw dropped. As it happens, that’s the last time the Leaf’s claimed the Stanley Cup.
Getting tickets to Leafs games these days is just about impossible, let alone being affordable. It was amazing to me how Jull was not only able to attend all the games in this special era, but it was part of her life. “My Dad started with the Star on the Police Beat and was later moved to the Sports department to cover the CFL and of course later, covered the Leafs. In total, he was there 49 years,” Jull recalls.
“In my early years, my Mom and I attended all the games and we regularly ate macaroni and cheese before the 8 PM games and sat in the Red section along the rails. I can recall the smell of the ice and how pristine white the boards were. The lady who was an attendant in the ladies bathroom was like a Grandmother…Maple Leaf Gardens was special,” Jull fondly states.
While being a huge Leaf fan, Jull was told to stay away from the players. “It wasn’t till I was 17 that I was allowed to meet Dick Duff and Frank Mahovalich”, she recalls.
Jull, who attended all of the Stanley Cup games in Toronto, remembers her Dad celebrating with General Manager, Punch Imlach on Yonge Street after the 67′ Cup victory. “It was a different time during the Original Six era. My Dad was friends with all the players and reporters like Jim Proudfoot, Bob Goldham and John MacDonald. I think he would like how the game has changed and would be fine with social media, although I think he’d feel the new arenas are not as intimate as the older places like the Gardens.”
Burnett was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a media honoree in 1984. He passed away in 1979 with many of the ’67 Leaf players in attendance at his funeral.
“Looking back, I was very fortunate to have those experiences as part of my life. The Stanley Cup ticker tape parades down Yonge and Bay were marvelous. If they ever won again it would be wild. It just didn’t occur to me then, that they wouldn’t win again.”