Former Toronto Maple Leafs captain George Armstrong will always be linked to that historic moment of May 2, 1967, which left Maple Leaf Gardens fans delirious. This popular Hockey Hall of Famer, who was affectionately known as “Chief” for his Iroquois decent, enjoyed a 21- year NHL career with the Maple Leafs. During his time
Former Toronto Maple Leafs captain George Armstrong will always be linked to that historic moment of May 2, 1967, which left Maple Leaf Gardens fans delirious.
This popular Hockey Hall of Famer, who was affectionately known as “Chief” for his Iroquois decent, enjoyed a 21- year NHL career with the Maple Leafs. During his time wearing the Maple Leaf, Armstrong played a vital role in helping them win the Stanley Cup in 1962, 1963, 1964 and finally 1967, when there were referred to as the “Over the hill gang.”
During that last Stanley Cup run in 1967, Armstrong became the last plater to score in the pre-expansion era when on May 2nd during Game 6 action against the favoured Montreal Canadiens, the Chief’s signature moment came when he took a pass from Bob Pulford before eventually with 47 seconds left, scoring into an open net to seal what was a 3-1 Stanley Cup clinching win.
Many of those iconic Maple Leafs’ heroes from that team have since passed, but Armstrong is still vibrant and in good health — recently celebrating his ninetieth birthday on July 6.
“Yeah, everyone is being careful around me,” Armstrong said. “But, y’know, I was never much for birthday or anniversary parties. I did plenty of celebrating when I was young: winning four Stanley Cups with the Leafs; a Calder Cup with Pittsburgh and some Junior championships (as a player and coach) with the Marlboros. That’s good enough for me. At my age, now, it’s all about family.”
For the past decade or so, Armstrong has proven to be a loyal loving husband to his wife of 63 years Betty, who is currently residing in a nursing home due to dementia.
“It’s been awhile since she recognized any of us,” Armstrong’s son Fred Armstrong said. “But Dad is loyal to the bone. He’s still by her side for three hours every day; feeding her and making sure she knows even if she doesn’t that he still loves her.”
Reflecting on the NHL returning to action from the COVID-19 pandemic, Armstrong doesn’t hesitate in voicing his dissatisfaction on the players returning to action as he stated,
“I don’t like the idea because they’re putting money ahead of health. I would prefer if they played it safe. Hopefully, everyone will through it, but I’m not sure that’s possible. Like a lot of elderly people, I don’t see my children as much today, but I understand why they are being careful. I wish hockey would do the same.”
Hitting the 90-year plateau, Armstrong admits that once in a while he will think about death but that it doesn’t bother him, and he wants to continue living for a long time. Unfortunately, among the teammates he lost from that ’67 Stanley Cup winning team was hist best friend in hall of fame goalie Johnny Bower who passed back on Boxing Day 2017.
“Johnny had a good life and he was a prize as a teammate and friend. No one said a nasty word about him. If you didn’t like Johnny Bower, you couldn’t get along with anyone.”
Armstrong likes this current Leafs team but believes they still have to get more physical and mature before they have a legitimate change of one again hoisting the Cup.