May 04, 2016

Tod Sloan

Aloysius "Tod" Martin Sloan was born in Vinton, Quebec but grew up in the Sudbury, Ontario area. He is one of greatest products in a long line of greats of the famed St. Michael's College.

He had two stellar seasons for St. Michael├Ęs, leading the league in goals with 45, assists with 32, and points with 75 in just 25 games during the 1945-46 season. Nor surprisingly, Sloan was named as the OHA's Most Valuable Player that season.

Sloan turned professional the following season. He joined the Pittsburgh Hornets of the American Hockey League. He played so well in the Steel City that he got a tryout game with Toronto in 1947-48, but ultimately played the rest of the season in AHL.

He split his time between Toronto in the NHL and Pittsburgh in the AHL during the 1948-49 season as well. His impressive play for the Cleveland Barons (AHL) during the 1950 playoffs (10 goals and 14 points in 9 games) earned him a full time job with the Leafs the following autumn, and he never had to look back.

Sloan was a creative center who relied on quick, shifty movement to get the puck into dangerous scoring positions. He was unique to say the least, so unique that not everyone new what to make of him and his unorthodox style of play in those days.

"Tod is his own boss. He does what he likes with the puck. It took us a few years to discover the best way to handle him is to leave him alone," said Toronto boss Conn Smythe.

Tod had an excellent career, highlighted by his eight full years as a Leaf.

The small but resilient center had a great rookie season in 1950-51. After a 31 goal rookie season, Sloan picked up 9 points (third highest on the team) in 11 playoff games en route to the Stanley Cup championship. None of his points were as big as his goal at 19:23 of the final period of the final game against Montreal. His goal tied the game and forced overtime, setting the stage for the heroics of the late-Bill Barilko and a Leafs Stanley Cup championship.

Sloan was a top player for the Leafs for the next seven years, although they never were able to duplicate their playoff success for the remainder of the decade. Sloan continued to be a top player in Toronto, despite diminishing scoring statistics.

"Slinker," as his teammates called him, corrected that in 1955-56 when he had a career year. Playing on an extremely efficient line with George Armstrong and Dick Duff, Sloan was named to the NHL's Second All Star Team thanks to a 37 goal and 66 point season.

Sloan returned to lower scoring totals over his final two seasons in Toronto, thanks in part to a bad shoulder. however the Leafs traded their pint-sized fireball to Chicago in 1958. Sloan was being punished for his role in trying to start up a players' union.

The move turned out alright for Sloan, who found himself centering Ed Litzenberger and the key man in the players' association movement in Ted Lindsay while with the Blackhawks. The trio clicked immediately and were the highest scoring line in that 1958-59 season. By 1961 Sloan was a nice piece of the Chicago Black Hawks championship puzzle.

That year has proven to be the last year the Hawks won hockey's greatest championship, and it also proved to be Tod Sloan's last in the NHL. He had grown tired of the professional game, so he sought reinstatement as an amateur. Once he was granted that status, he joined the Galt Terriers and represent Canada in a silver medal performance at the 1962 World Championships.

Tod, a cousin of Leaf great Dave Keon, scored 220 goals, and 482 points in 745 NHL games, and added 21 points in 47 post season affairs. Although he played in three all star games, he is an often forgotten about piece of the Toronto Maple Leafs great history.

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