Tributes pour in for hockey legend Howie Meeker

Meeker

Howie Meeker, who went from Stanley Cup-winner to Canadian hockey icon as a colourful TV hockey analyst who wore his heart on his sleeve, has died. He was 97.

A spokesman for the Toronto Maple Leafs confirmed via email that Meeker died on Sunday. There was no immediate word on the cause of death.

National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement yesterday evening, commending Meeker for his accomplishments as a player, broadcaster, and educator for the game of hockey.

Bettman writes,  "Howie Meeker spent his long and remarkable life playing, teaching and broadcasting the game of hockey and serving his country with incredible enthusiasm."

As an NHL player, Meeker won the Calder Trophy as the top rookie in 1947, the same year Gordie Howe entered the league,  and went on to play in three all-star games and hoist four Stanley Cups in eight seasons with the Maple Leafs.

Most famously, he passed the puck to Bill Barilko for the 1951 Cup overtime winner against Montreal.