TORONTO - Gaye Stewart, whose eventful NHL career included two Stanley Cups with the Maple Leafs and stints with five of the six Original Six teams, passed away Thursday night at a Burlington hospital at age 87.
Stewart was a Marlboro junior, but came through the ranks quickly in the war years. The OHAís top scorer in 1940-41, the Fort William native was playing with the Marlie seniors the next season, then in rapid order with the AHL Hershey Bears and finally, a one-game playoff call-up to Toronto which put the teen star on the same page as the Ď42 Leaf club that rebounded from a 3-0 hole in the Cup final against Detroit.
Still eligible for the Calder Trophy in 1942-43, Stewart beat out Montrealís Rocket Richard, then joined the Canadian Navy on patrol along the St. Lawrence River until 1945. The left wingerís best year in Toronto was 1945-46 when he had 37 goals in 50 games. No Leaf has led the NHL in goals since.
According to the NHLPA Legends of Hockey web site, Stewartís first encounter with the Leafs was in 1937 when they stopped in Fort William on a train to the West Coast to play in a tournament and he was able to get autographs of Charlie Conacher and the big names of the day.
Stewart was moved in the big Max Bentley trade of Ď47, which sent him around the league to Chicago, Detroit, the New York Rangers and the Canadiens. He retired in 1955.