Return to Glory:
The Leafs From Imlach to
Toronto: ECW Press, 1995. 301pp, paper, $19.95.
ISBN 1-55022-242-2. CIP.
Toronto Maple Leafs (Hockey team).
Toronto Maple Leafs (Hockey team)-History.
Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.
In covering the period from May, 1967, to early 1995, Podnieks writes
passionately as he describes first the decline of the Toronto Maple Leafs
hockey club following their last Stanley Cup win of 1967, and then their
rise to legitimate Cup contender in the 1990s. Return to
Glory is structured in two parts, with each section principally
revolving around the actions of a pair of individuals.
In the shorter "Part One," Podnieks largely ascribes the Leafs'
on-ice downfall to the off-ice, egocentric, and eccentric actions of the
book's villains, team owner Harold Ballard, and the Leafs' General
Manager and sometime coach, Punch Imlach. In "Part Two," the white hats
are worn by Cliff Fletcher, who became GM in June, 1991, following
Ballard's death, and Fletcher's choice as coach, Pat Burns.
Podnieks does not just restrict his black-white value judgments to
management, and readers may be surprised by some of his assessments of
both Leaf players and their opponents. In addition to describing lots of
game action, including detailed sections on the 1993 and 1994 playoffs,
Podnieks also covers the post-Ballard back-room financial games as
various individuals tried to gain control of Maple Leaf Gardens.
By ending the book shortly after the conclusion of the 1994 owners'
lockout/players' strike, Podnieks leaves readers with a sense of
incompleteness -- for the title's promise will only be realised by
another Stanley Cup victory, not just by the Leafs twice making it to the
semi-finals. While the book's cover is full-colour, the numerous
photos scattered throughout the book are black and white. A thirty-page
appendix of all-time Leaf team and individual achievements completes the
For the serious hockey fan, Return to
Glory is a fine read, but its
scope is likely too limited and its contents too detailed for the average
high school collection. The book, however, should be purchased for the
adult collections of public libraries where it will be available to
Recommended with reservations.
Dave Jenkinson is a hockey fan who also teaches courses in children's
and young adult literature at the Faculty of Education, University of
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Copyright © 1995 the Manitoba Library Association.
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