Is coaching to blame for Toronto's recent woes?
It appears Larry Hillman has finally been made whole by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
According to Sports Illustrated, Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan gave Hillman a cheque to pay back the $2,400 – plus interest – that he was fined in 1967. Shanahan made the gesture in 2017 after the former Toronto defenceman dropped his infamous ‘Hillman Hex’ at the 50-year mark.
Following their Stanley Cup victory in 1967, Hillman asked the franchise for a $5,000 raise to bring his salary to $20,000, but Leafs coach Punch Imlach refused to top $19,500. After a 24-day holdout, Hillman agreed to accept Imlach's offer but was fined $100 for each day of his holdout - a total of $2,400.
When Hillman departed the organization a year later as an expansion pick of the Minnesota North Stars, he vowed the Leafs wouldn’t win the Stanley Cup again until he was repaid his $2,400, with interest.
After 35 years, Hillman said he’d decided that the hex would be lifted at 50 during the Leafs’ centennial season in 2017. He confirmed in 2016 that the hex would go the full distance.
“Yes, it’s still there,” Hillman told the Toronto Star. “It seems to have worked.
“I’ve left it on because they didn’t pay me the $2,400, with interest. It would have been a lot cheaper to pay that than signing all those million-dollar players.”
S.L. Price of Sports Illustrated reports Shanahan asked for and received permission from the Maple Leafs board in 2017 to repay Hillman, who was listed by the franchise at No. 96 on 'The One Hundred' greatest Leafs in October 2016.
The Maple Leafs' Stanley Cup drought sits at 52 years, equal with the St. Louis Blues for the longest in the NHL and seventh longest championship drought in North American major sports.