The following is the second in a three-part series highlighting the Toronto Maple Leafs and its linkages to women’s ice hockey.
Among the members of the Maple Leafs roster who would wear the King Clancy memorial patch on their sleeves to finish the 1986-87 season was Tom Fergus. Acquired from the Boston Bruins on October 11, 1985 in exchange for the consistent Bill Derlago, Fergus would instantly pay dividends for the franchise, resulting in one of the shrewdest acquisitions of the season.
Finishing his inaugural season for the Blue and White with a solid 73-point campaign, highlighted by 31 goals and 42 assists, Fergus ranked second in team scoring behind Czech superstar Miroslav Frycer, who registered 75 points. Adding to such a solid showing was a memorable postseason which saw the Maple Leafs win their first playoff series since 1979 (eliminating defending Norris Division champion Chicago) while pushing the St. Louis Blues to seven games in the Norris Division Final.
Rewarded for his efforts with the honor of serving as assistant captain in the autumn of 1986, part of a leadership core which included Wendel Clark and Borje Salming, Fergus was a source of consistency for the remainder of the decade, finishing among the Leafs’ top five scorers in both 1988 and 1989.
Perhaps Fergus’ greatest personal legacy to hockey in Toronto was the opportunity to coach his children. As a side note, Fergus would become one of many Leafs alumnae that would coach his daughters in retirement.
Others included Nick Kypreos, coaching his daughter Annie at the youth level, while former first round draft pick Luke Richardson coached his daughter Morgan with the PWHL’s Ottawa Lady Senators. Morgan’s career would also hold a unique example of six degrees of separation as she would call Laura Stacey one of her teammates in a gold medal winning effort at the 2012 IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds.
Also a prominent competitor at the PWHL level was Katie Fergus, who also sandwiched in a Halton Catholic Conference Ice Hockey Championship in high school. With her father serving as head coach of her PWHL club, Fergus would develop into a dependable scorer with the Burlington Jr. Barracudas.
Playing alongside the likes of Caitlin Gilligan, who would capture an NCAA Division III title with SUNY-Plattsburgh, Emily Janiga and Nicole Connery, both in their rookie seasons in the NWHL along with current Toronto Furies rookie Renata Fast, Fergus’ time with the Barracudas represented a great point of pride in her career, enjoying the opportunity to share in her father’s enjoyment of hockey, while finding inspiration,
“Growing up my dad really inspired me to play hockey. He was always there when I needed help. Knowing that he was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs was the coolest thing when I was younger. It not only made me proud of him but I also knew that any hockey questions would be easily answered by him!”
Wearing his number 19, Fergus would become a dependable skater at the NCAA level with the Robert Morris Colonials, having never missed a game in her four seasons with the program. Among her teammates with the Colonials included Delayne Brian, who would be recognized as the MVP of the 2016 Clarkson Cup playoffs, along with Rebecca Vint and Kristen Richards, who would both go on to help the Toronto Shamrocks capture the 2015 CBHA national championship.
“My dad was a huge influence on my entire hockey career. I tried getting his number whenever I could. Right when I started playing my only interest was playing centre just like him. He was a great influence on me as he was able to coach many of my teams as I was growing up.”
Fergus would see his time in Toronto come to an end on December 18, 1991, as he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks. Coincidentally, his arrival in Toronto would mark a new chapter for the Maple Leafs as the Wendel Clark era took shape, while the trade to Vancouver, his final NHL stop, would see him part of the first season in the Pavel Bure era.
While his final NHL season allowed him another opportunity to appear in the NHL playoffs, Fergus would enjoy another unique connection to the Maple Leafs while playing in Vancouver. Pat Quinn, part of the 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame Class, served as Vancouver’s head coach and would land in Toronto six years later.
Quinn’s time in Toronto was nothing short of eventful. Along with general manager Ken Dryden, the two would end up not only shaping the city’s hockey landscape in a bold, new direction both would coincidentally become part of the Leafs growing link to women’s hockey and the shaping of its heritage.
Serving as head coach as the franchise transitioned from Maple Leaf Gardens to the Air Canada Centre, Quinn’s first season with Toronto would see the club appear in the Eastern Conference Finals against Buffalo. Serving as Team North America’s head coach for the 2000 NHL All-Star Game (hosted at Air Canada Centre), All-Star festivities also saw Quinn in attendance for the TSN Challenge.
Leading to Canada towards gold at the 2002 Winter Games, Quinn would be part of history as the national women’s team defeated the host United States as Canada captured double gold (which Canada repeated in 2010 and 2014). In another unique instance of six degrees of separation, one of the members of Canada’s women’s ice hockey team was Tammy Lee Shewchuk, who would eventually become Dryden’s daughter-in-law.
As a side note, Quinn’s daughter Kalli would make her own mark in women’s hockey as an administrator. Working at the MasterCard Memorial Cup, she was also a Director at Hockey Canada and served as a manager for Venue Operations at the 2015 Canada Winter Games. Currently, she is the Director of Operations for the BMO Top Prospects Game.
With Quinn being a posthumous induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, it was Kallie who would proudly accept his Hall of Fame Ring and sign the Hall’s registry. With the annual Hockey Hall of Fame Game taking place at Air Canada Centre, it was a fitting complement to the Maple Leafs Centennial, as Quinn was the first coach in franchise history when the club moved to the venue.
During Quinn’s memorable career, another hockey colleague also hold a special connection to women’s hockey. While both skated for the Maple Leafs during their playing career, the most visceral connection between Pat Quinn and Al Arbour took place in 1980, as both led their respective clubs into the Stanley Cup Finals.
Not only would the 1980 finals signify their first appearances as head coaches in professional hockey’s biggest stage, with Arbour’s New York Islanders defeating Quinn’s Philadelphia Flyers in a hard-fought series culminating with Bob Nystrom’s overtime winning goal, Arbour would join a unique fraternity of individuals who have won the Stanley Cup as both a player and a coach.
Becoming the first coach to win four Stanley Cups with an expansion team, Arbour’s career would culminate with recognition in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and a cherished spot in the hearts of sports fans in New York’s Long Island region. As a player, Arbour also experienced a pair of proud milestones in New York State. Skating with the AHL’s Rochester Americans, Arbour would win a pair of Calder Cups in 1965 and 1966.
Among his teammates in Rochester included Don Cherry, Gerry Cheevers and Terry Clancy, whose niece Laura Stacey is in her rookie season with the CWHL’s Brampton Thunder. As a side note, Arbour and Clancy both skated for a pair of expansion clubs during the NHL’s first-ever expansion, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this season.
Having played for the Maple Leafs Stanley Cup championship teams in 1962 and 1964, Arbour’s greatest point of pride involves family. Undoubtedly, hockey runs in the blood as his granddaughter Jaclyn Arbour graced the ice from 2012-16 with Erie, Pennsylvania’s Mercyhurst Lakers.
Suiting up for Mercyhurst allowed Arbour a pair of unique coincidences. From the outset, the Robert Morris Colonials competed in the same conference as Mercyhurst, allowing Arbour and Fergus countless opportunities to face-off, extending both families hockey legacies. In addition, one of Mercyhurst’s rivals included the Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers, allowing Arbour to get in touch with her grandfather’s hockey roots in that community.
Having first risen to prominence with the National Sports Academy in Lake Placid, New York, capturing state championships in 2010 and 2012, Jaclyn was also a three-time invitee to the USA Hockey national camp. Raised in South Setauket, New York, Arbour has always felt her grandfather’s legendary effect,
“He was a huge influence, hockey was a big part of my life and my families lives. That’s all I did as a kid was play hockey with my siblings. I feel like I also picked up on his style of play naturally. He was known to dive in front of the net to block shots and so did I, in college, as a forward. My dad told me that similarity between us and it really touched me. He influenced me throughout my whole hockey career.”
Graduating from Mercyhurst University with a specialization in Public Health, Jaclyn’s career with the Lakers was defined by disciplined play, consistency, positive plus/minus ratings and a durability that culminated with over 100 appearances.
Gaining the opportunity to appear in the NCAA tournament twice, including the 2014 NCAA Frozen Four, scoring a goal against Clarkson, Jaclyn would also earn the privilege of being named the College Hockey America Player of the Week.
Proud of the Stanley Cups that her grandfather won as a player and coach, the Maple Leafs Centennial allows Arbour the chance to gain a more profound appreciation of her grandfather’s playing career and his glory years with the Maple Leafs.
“When I was younger I never really thought of him as a legendary figure, he was just my grandpa. As I grew older, I realized how big of an impact he had on the game and other people’s lives. I have been approached by many fans who tell me how much my grandpa meant to them.
I would have people go out of their way just to watch me play a game and talk to me after just so they can send a message of thanks to him. Even his fellow colleagues in the NHL always talk about how much they looked up to and respected him. It showed me how big of a person he was.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Images obtained from:
Jeff Vinick – Getty Images, Craig Robertson – Toronto Sun, Mercyhurst Lakers Athletics, Robert Morris Colonials athletics