A story from Kevin Shea on Facebook about Gord Rawlinson
Most of us dream about enjoying the 15 minutes of fame that Andy Warhol talked about. For one young man, that 15 minutes of fame came in Maple Leaf Gardens on May 2, 1967.
“I was on my way to Montreal for a summer job at Expo ’67,” began the 20-year-old, who’d left his home in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. With a coveted ticket to Game Six of the Stanley Cup final between Toronto and Montreal in hand, he sat in the stands and watched as the Maple Leafs toppled the Canadiens, 3-1.
“I had told the people back home, ‘I’m going to try to get on TV.’” As the period wound down, the young man formulated a plan that would allow him to say hi to his pals back in Saskatchewan. He fidgeted as the crowd counted down the final seconds to the Leafs’ fourth Stanley Cup championship that decade. “At the end of the game, I had my father’s business card for CKBI Radio, so I went down (to ice level) and showed it to the guy and said, ‘I’m here…’ and he said, ‘Yeah, go ahead.’”
Clarence Campbell, the NHL’s president, stood at centre ice, the Stanley Cup placed on a table to his right. He called for Toronto’s captain, George Armstrong, to proceed to centre ice to accept Lord Stanley’s Cup. Armstrong skated over, his son in tow shuffling alongside. The Leafs captain then tipped the Cup slightly and held it aloft, sharing the glory with his son, the fans in the arena and those watching on television from coast to coast. He then waved over his teammates to join him at centre ice.
“In those days, they didn’t parade around with the Stanley Cup. They all just gathered around it and as they did that, I just went in there,” chuckled the young man, reflecting on his daring intrusion. As the crowd roared, the Maple Leafs huddled around the Stanley Cup for the photographers. The bespectacled young man, looking dapper, was living a dream as he jostled in amongst the victors. Standing just behind the kneeling captain, who was cradling the Stanley Cup, the pride of Prince Albert stood shoulder to shoulder with Milan Marcetta on his right and Larry Jeffrey, dressed in civilian clothes and hobbling on crutches, to his left. “I could hear the odd player say, ‘Who is this?’ but I just stood there.”
As the flashes turned the cavernous Gardens into an explosion of light, the ‘mystery man’ stared straight into the television cameras and beamed. Allan Stanley gripped the trophy to the young man’s right, with Tim Horton directly behind and goalkeeper Al Smith craning his neck to get a glimpse of the Stanley Cup. The blond-haired fan took a moment to wave to the crowd as several members of the team began to leave the ice. Pete Stemkowski and George Armstrong collaborated on lifting the Cup and prepared to carry it to their dressing room, which was prepared to host a celebration. Armstrong took control and skated towards the exit when Jim Pappin reached over to embrace the Cup. As he did, and as the ice was clearing of Leafs, our young fan turned towards the camera and gave one final wave to his friends back home in Prince Albert.
“There were many calls to my folks back in Prince Albert,” laughed the mystery fan. “My father said that he spent more than two hours with his hand on the phone and he would lift it up and say, ‘We saw him. Thanks a lot.’ He wouldn’t even take his hand off the phone because as soon as he put it down, it would ring again. People kept calling, saying, ‘We saw your son on the ice with the Stanley Cup!’”
Today, Gordon Rawlinson, that fan who became part of hockey history by talking his way onto the ice for the Stanley Cup celebration in 1967, is President and CEO of Rawlco Communications, sole proprietor of seven radio stations in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Amidst all of his other successes, Gord Rawlinson looked back with great pride at his escapade. “It didn’t last very long, maybe 30 seconds,” he grinned, adding, “It was quite fun.”