Bill Barilko, wherever he is, must be smiling down on the Leafs tonight!
Steve Russell -Staff Photographer
"No shortage of Cinderellas in any mining town,
All dream of coming back home wearing the Golden Crown,
Bill you wore the white and Blue,
Always looked so grand,
Came back in 51,
The biggest hero in the land."
-Charlie Angus and the Grevious Angels
The Bill Barilko Song
It could be the spookiest sports story of them all.
The curse of the Bambino has nothing on this one or any of the curses that supposably hang over the Chicago Cubs.
Sixty years ago, Bill Barilko scored the Stanley Cup winning winning goal overtime in 1951, that summer he goes missing returning from a fishing trip. Despite one of the most extensive searches he is not found. The Leafs experience a Stanley Cup drought until the wreckage of his plane and his remains are found. Incredible!
If Paul Henderson's Summit series winner is "The Golden Goal" to Canadians, Barilko's Stanley Cup winner has to be "THE GOAL" for Leafs fans. Scored in overtime of the fifth game in the best of seven series against the Montreal Canadiens, it is a wonderful goal. And it is a wonderfully photographed goal as well.
I was lucky enough to photograph Anne Klisanich, Bill Barilko's sister, earlier in the week. I had a chance to look through her scrap books that the family kept surrounding his hockey career and his disappearence. It was also a challenge, Anne has been photographed by some of the best over the years and I wanted to make sure that I shot something that would rival those pictures.
Anne Klisanich poses with a photo of her brother, former Leaf's defenceman Bill Barilko scoring the Stanley Cup winner. I consider this photograph taken by Nat Turofsky on the of finest hockey or sports pictures ever. Frank Lennon's Henderson goal and Ray Lussier's Bobby Orr goal are great, but Turofsky was shooting with a 4x5 camera. Incredible!
The puck that Bill Barilko scored the Stanley Cup winning goal was also part of a Hockey Hall of Fame display. Other items were his fishing pole, a piece of the airplane and a lighter that the City of Toronto presented to players for the win.
Oh yeah, there was a hockey game too!
The Lyrics above are from Charlie Angus and the Grevious Angels. Angus is the Member of Parliament for Timmins-James Bay. The Bill Barilko Song can be found on iTunes.