Nova Scotia has left its mark on NHL

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

HALIFAX -- There is a definite Bluenose connection to the Blue and White.

Almost 60 Nova Scotians have made a mark in the National Hockey League, led by Norris Trophy winner Al MacInnis, player/executive Bobby Smith and the 19-year-old who already has put the Maritimes on the map, Cole Harbour's Sidney Crosby.

The ranks also include ex-Leafs William (Flash) Hollett, Parker Macdonald and Don MacLean, plus farmhands David Ling and Doug Doull. Hollett played for the Leafs in three different stints in the 1930s as well as for the Red Wings, Bruins and the original Ottawa Senators. He also coached the Toronto Marlies in the OHA.

One of the strongest off-ice links to the Leafs is former coach John Brophy of Antigonish. Brophy handled the Nova Scotia Voyageurs, the Canadiens farm team from 1981-84 when his tough-as-nails reputation was beginning to take hold in the greater pro hockey world. The Voyageurs of that era would produce future NHLers such as Guy Carbonneau, now coach of the Habs, and two future Leafs, Dan Daoust and Bill Root.

Future Leafs broadcaster Joe Bowen did play-by-play in the Brophy era.

"That was quite a time, quite a team and it's still quite a city," Bowen said prior to the Leafs' first visit back here since the 1970s. "That was also when Ron Caron was working in the Montreal hockey office. He loved to talk baseball away from the rink and when he came to watch Nova Scotia play, the puck would drop and he would just start screaming at the referees.

"I used to think how could he possibly assess the Voyageurs' talent in that frame of mind, but as we know, he went on to be a success as general manager of the St. Louis Blues.

"You couldn't say enough good things about the fans in Halifax and Nova Scotia. At first, I was treated different, like an 'Upper Canadian,' but once they get to know you, they take you to their hearts."

However, the Voyageurs could only half fill the10,000-seat Metro Centre and the American Hockey League departed. The Leafs and Sens drew more than 10,500 last night.

Now the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League are the big team in the city, which also has played host to the Memorial Cup and the world junior hockey championship. The rink almost was sold out Saturday night when Boston beat the New York Islanders 3-2 and Bridgewater's Glen Murray scored for the Bruins.

Before last night's game, local officials took advantage of the visit to honour Dartmouth's Don Koharski for 30 years of NHL officiating.


Photos