Article – “Johnny Bower Christmas Gift”

Dec 24, 2023

I always enjoy a “Great Christmas Story”……….

The late Johnny Bower was signing autographs at Hammertine Sports in Whitby Ontario in December of 2012. In that line was a man named Roger Spivey, 61, who had in his possession an old pair of pads that long long ago had been used by Bower, and was seeking to get them signed for display in the rec room he was working on in his Whitby home.

Roger was only two spots back when he overheard a conversation between Bower, the goalie who last led the Leafs to the Stanley Cup in 1967, and another sports fanatic eager to meet the then 86-year-old Mississauga resident. The person two in front of him who Bower was conversing with, also had a pair of pads, which is how Spivey came to hear Bower sadly say he had virtually none of his old gear from his Leaf playing days, the result of stingy owner Harold Ballard keeping all his property under lock and key.

So, on the spur of the moment, Spivey decided to give Bower an early Christmas present and return the pads.
“I thought I may as well give him these because it means more to him than it does to me,” Spivey says simply enough.

“The whole meeting took 45 seconds, maybe, and that was it. Then it got a life of its own.” Word of mouth travels fast & before he knew it his story fell onto a reporters ears. The next thing Spivey knew he was talking to the reporter, having his photo snapped with Bower and appearing in the Toronto Sun.

Bower was overwhelmed by the gesture. He called Spivey just about every week since and took him to see the New York Rangers play the Leafs at the Air Canada Centre later that season. .

Bower had also since been offered — and turned down — $50,000 from a card company for the pads, according to Spivey, who nevertheless has no regrets.

“What meant the most to me actually was … there were people lined up behind him and just as he turned to leave this lady took hold of my hand,” Spivey recalls. “It was Johnny Bower’s wife, Nancy, and she said that “this is the nicest thing that’s ever happened to my Johnny from a fan” … She said, ‘You’ve made his Christmas’.” ????

Credit: hockeybukakke