Eddie Shack finds nothing amusing about the Stanley Cup drought of the Maple Leafs that is bound to hit 40 years in May.
In what was billed as likely the last full gathering of the 1967 champions, the outspoken Shack used his five minutes at the podium last night to praise patient Leafs fans and rail against those who have run the team through the second-longest Cup skid in NHL history.
"It's been 40 years ... are you going to call them the Toronto Next Years?" Shack bellowed to a crowd of 900 at the Metro Convention Centre, which included Leafs general manager John Ferguson. "Isn't that a bunch of bullsh--?"
Many of the players re-told stories of the dictatorial methods of the late GM/coach Punch Imlach, who led them to upset wins over Chicago and Montreal that spring.
The raucous evening included a re-creation of the team Cup photo, with the chalice on loan from the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Unlike last month's reunion at the Air Canada Centre, this gathering included players from the regular season who didn't get their names on the Cup, with Tim Horton's daughter and the grandson of Terry Sawchuk representing the late stars. Ex-captains Dave Keon and George Armstrong did not attend.
Among the special guests were Shirley Hart, one of the three CHUM radio witches who once dressed the part to cast a spell on visiting teams.
"I grew up in Swastika, Ont., (near Kirkland Lake) and always followed the Leafs," Hart said. "I was a sales secretary at CHUM when they asked me to wear the witch hat and silver stockings. It was a lot of fun. Maybe it's time to get the costume out again."
The event, which continues with a weekend-long autograph session, raised money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.