Night to remember

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

Nowadays, Ian Turnbull uses his great hands to dab an artist's brush and strum a guitar.

But in the National Hockey League of the 1970s, he was considered one of its finest puck-handling defencemen and he's still revered by Maple Leafs fans as the hero of their stirring 1978 playoff run.

Turnbull eventually became obscured by the great defencemen of the champion Montreal Canandiens and Philadelphia Flyers and was not even considered the best on his own team as pioneer Hall of Fame Swede Borje Salming received the lion's share of attention.

But Turnbull made history himself 30 years ago today, with a five-goal performance against the Detroit Red Wings, still the record for an NHL defenceman.

"Thirty years ... it seems odd no one has broken it yet," Turnbull said this week from his home in Torrance, Calif. "I wouldn't be surprised if it's done soon because the game has changed back to a north-south style with defencemen acting as rovers. I like what Philippe Boucher does in Dallas (as its leading scorer) and Lubomir Visnovsky right here in L.A.

"I actually hope six goals does happen, because I've always felt that records are made to be broken. I was just lucky that night and Darryl Sittler (who had a league-record 10-point night the year before) will tell you the same thing."

Turnbull scored two on Ed Giacomin and three on current Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford in an eventual 9-1 win.

But like many Leafs of the Harold Ballard era, Turnbull didn't end his Toronto career on a happy note. He was traded to the Kings, played a bit with Pittsburgh and was out of hockey with back problems by 1983. TSN gave him a DVD of the five-goal game years ago, which he rarely watches.

"I still have the tea service (Ballard) gave me for the five goals -- somewhere in a box," Turnbull laughed." I gave my stick from that night to (trainer) Joe Sgro. I hope he got some money from it."

Turnbull and wife Inge now live in the fashionable Hollywood Riviera section of Torrance, his interests shifting from real estate to co-owning a studio gallery, where he dabs in painting and makes frames.


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