Where Are They Now?

 
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Paul Patskou

It should come as no surprise that a school which has produced several world class hockey players and coaches would also be the home of one of the worlds leading hockey historians. Paul Patskou spent five years at York Memo before graduating in 1970 before moving on to obtain a degree in history at York University.

Growing up in the Old Weston Road and Rogers Road area Paul had attended both General Mercer and Osler Public Schools before coming to Memo. As a young boy he could be found playing road hockey at the old Coke factory near his home or on the outdoor natural ice at General Mercer PS. Growing up in a household of true Leaf’s fans Paul learned to love the game at an early age and fondly remembers watching the Saturday night Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts with his dad.

It would be shortly after the last game of the 1959 regular season which saw the Leaf’s dramatically clinch a playoff spot that his father would pass away. Paul was only seven years old at the time.

Years later Paul began a search to see if he could find a video copy of the last game they had watched together and a career as a hockey historian was launched. It was on a 1997 trip to the National Archives in Ottawa that Paul finally found the tape he had been searching for and he was off and running in his life long pursuit of our hockey history.

Soon after, Brian McFarlane, the longtime “Hockey Night in Canada” commentator, learned that Patskou had a mutual interest in the history of hockey through film. McFarlane became a mentor. McFarlane said he had given Patskou old films, salvaging them from the basement of Maple Leaf Gardens after the former owner Harold Ballard told McFarlane to “get it all out of there.” Included were 800 plus Leaf games on tape.

In 1998, Patskou attended a meeting of the Society for International Hockey Research. Two days later, through word of mouth, the CBC called him to help produce a documentary about the closing of Maple Leaf Gardens, and his career took off for good. Called “The Columbo” of sports historical film he is considered the world’s foremost authority of hockey on video.

His projects and accomplishments read like a trip through hockey history. In researching a non-hockey film for a CBC documentary, he made a rare discovery at the end of the tape. It contained highlights of Willie O’Ree, a black player, who was called up by the Boston Bruins to play his first N.H.L. game against the Montreal Canadiens, breaking hockey’s color barrier.

Paul also used his vast knowledge and collection to help put together the “Classic Games Series” on the Leaf’s TV network, featuring games from as far back as the 1950’s. Other well-known projects he has contributed to would include:

  •  The CBC’s great documentary series “A Peoples Hockey History” Three “Centennial” projects for the NHL’s 100th anniversary
  • The highly acclaimed documentary on “Red Army” tracing the history of the historic Russian club team
  • Contributed to over 50 hockey books to date.

Regularly called upon by such notable networks as TSN, Sportsnet, CBC, Leaf’s Nation Network and the NHL. Consults as a volunteer for the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Paul’s personal collection at home includes such rare footage as Foster Hewitt calling a game on radio in the 1940’s, the 1967 NHL finals featuring the Leaf’s last Stanley Cup and rare footage of an outdoor game shot back in 1898 by none other than Thomas Edison.

Paul’s house has become not only a museum of sorts but an archive resource that has seen members of hockey royalty drop by to see long lost film of themselves in action. Ken Dryden, Red Kelly, Bob Baun, Bobby Hull and Frank Mahovlich have all made the pilgrimage to view rare footage of themselves that was thought to be lost for all time.

Paul continues his work to this day and has joined forces with many like-minded individuals who are all part of the highly regarded “Society for International Hockey Research” group bringing back the memories of our youth for all of us to live again. This picture at the top of the page was taken at a 2019 re-union of the 1968-1969 Toronto Marlboros.

Patskou2Paul is shown with former Marlboros and YMCI classmates Fred Barrett (left) and Lorne Stamler (right), all having graduated with the class of 1970. Barrett played three years with the Marlboros before moving onto a solid 13- year NHL career. Stamler was a Marlboro for two seasons and went onto play four years at Michigan Tech before graduating to a pro career that included four years as an NHL player.

Paul also arranged a re-union of the 1973 Memorial Cup Champion Toronto Marlboros. In attendance was another YMCI alumni – John Hughes. Hughes was considered one of the greatest athletes in school history, excelling in football and track and field - all while a member of the Marlboros. He went on to play 6 seasons in the newly formed WHA before spending 2 full seasons in the NHL.

By Paul Lewicki