Sittler's perfect 10

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:52 AM ET

Through his hockey career, Darryl Sitter has a moment that stands out over all the rest.

It was witnessed from coast-to-coast. It's a moment all hockey fans who saw it still remember.

What it is, though, may surprise you.

"I still think the biggest thrill of my life was against the Czechs in the 1976 Canada Cup," Sitter said recently of his tournament-winning overtime goal for Canada.

"In my mind, it's a bigger moment.

"But the 10-point game is more known."

More known. In fact, immortalized in more ways than one.

Today is the anniversary of Sittler's NHL record 10-point game. It was Feb. 7, 1976 on Hockey Night in Canada when the Toronto Maple Leafs centre single-handedly dismantled the Boston Bruins in an 11-4 victory. He collected six goals and four assists.

Sittler, who'll be in Calgary tomorrow as the keynote speaker for a fundraising dinner, had his incredible exploits recorded several ways.

Perhaps his favourite is the children's book My Leafs Sweater by Mike Leonetti. Not only is it a charming story, it's made his tale live through the ages.

A young boy wants a Maple Leafs sweater just like the one worn by his favourite player, Sittler, for his birthday but doesn't receive it, only to procure tickets to that fateful game at the last moment.

"Those kids who were three, four, five, six, seven and grew up with that story know about it, and I think that's kept it alive," Sittler said. "It's a nice thing.

"Once in a while, I'll be signing autographs and somebody will have a copy."

It's easy to compare My Leafs Sweater to another famous Canadiana hockey book, The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier -- the story of a young Montreal Canadiens fan who idolizes Maurice (Rocket) Richard only to receive a Toronto sweater instead -- and that's not the only link between Sittler and the Rocket.

Sittler's amazing game broke the standard of eight points in a game set by Richard in 1944 and -- at the time -- shared with Bert Olmstead.

Sittler also happens to share with Richard the record for most goals in a playoff game with five. He netted that many in an April 22, 1976 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Looking back at his historic night, it's somewhat surprising the record never fell during the high-scoring 1980s and early 1990s.

"Will it happen? The night I did it showed the unknown can happen, and it happened to me," Sittler said. "I thought at some point (Wayne) Gretzky of anybody -- or even (Mario) Lemieux -- would do it.

"Who knows, they way the rules have changed it might happen for a guy like Sidney Crosby. If everything all clicks, he might be the next guy."

Although Sittler had a nasty split from the Maple Leafs a few years after his milestone night, he's been part of the organization as a community representative since Cliff Fletcher coaxed him back to the fold in 1991.

Still one to bleed blue and white, the club's trials and tribulations this season have been tough to take, but ever the optimist, Sittler believes the corner will be turned and, eventually, you'll see a parade down Yonge Street.

"Sometimes, you have to go down to the bottom of the heap to get the really good players and build around them. Sometimes you have to build for the long-term," he said. "We're trying to get there again."

Sittler will be speaking at a fundraising dinner at the Roundup Centre's Palomino room for a midget-aged hockey team that will travel to Switzerland and Italy this spring.

Tickets are $150 and can be purchased by calling Rosa at 289-8852 during the day or 988-2459 in the evening.


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