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Remembering Johnny Bower (1924-2017)

Johnny Bower, the winningest goaltender in American Hockey League history and a charter member of the AHL Hall of Fame, passed away on Tuesday.

He was 93.

“Johnny Bower was a Hall of Fame goaltender and a Hall of Fame gentleman who defined excellence and perseverance and never forgot his roots in the American Hockey League,” said AHL President and Chief Executive Officer David Andrews.

“We join the entire hockey world in mourning his passing and celebrating his legacy, and we offer our deepest condolences to his wife Nancy and his entire family.”

Born in Saskatchewan, Johnny Bower reached legendary status in the AHL before finally getting a chance to star in the National Hockey League.

He made his pro debut with the AHL’s Cleveland Barons in 1945 and went on to win four Calder Cups and three league MVP awards. He led the AHL in wins five times and was named to six postseason AHL All-Star Teams, including five first-team selections. He also won the Harry “Hap” Holmes Award (then given to the goaltender with the lowest goals-against average in the league) on three occasions.

After the 1957-58 season, Bower was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the inter-league draft and would play 11 seasons with the Leafs, leading the team to three consecutive Stanley Cups from 1962-64 and a fourth in 1967.

Bower’s 359 victories (359-174-57) remain the most by a goaltender in American Hockey League history, and his 45 career shutouts and longest streak without allowing a goal (249:51) were both league records for more than 50 years before both were surpassed earlier this decade.

Bower’s number 1 was retired by the Cleveland Barons, and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1976 and the AHL Hall of Fame in its inaugural class in 2006.

Johnny Bower is survived by his wife, Nancy, as well as three children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.