Howie Meeker built an impressive hockey career while influencing generations of hockey players throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. For more than 50 years Howie has touched multiple aspects of hockey as a player, coach, general manager, announcer, and broadcaster. He has instructed and influenced those involved in hockey at all levels from grade school to the National Hockey League (NHL) and various international hockey leagues.
For older generations, Howie is remembered for his impressive NHL career playing with the Toronto Maple Leafs. There were many career highs, including awards for Rookie of the Year in 1947, All-Star player of the game for three consecutive years from 1947-1949 and four Stanley Cup wins in 1947, 1948, 1949, and 1951. His time with the Maple Leafs Hockey Franchise continued as he returned to coach for a season in 1956 and then became their General Manager in 1957.
Howie finished playing in the NHL at the age of 29, but he continued to play hockey professionally for another 15 years. He moved to Newfoundland and Labrador in 1957 where he quickly became involved in local hockey, helping to create a large group of talented players. His coaching contribution had a major influence in hockey in the province. He coached high school, junior, and senior leagues in St. John’s, including the St. John’s Capitals who won a Herder Memorial Trophy in 1970. He is remembered as “simply an excellent coach”, having a philosophy and instructional leadership that benefited many kids, as well as accomplished players.
Adding to his coaching career, Howie created a hockey school teaching the fundamental skills needed to skate, stickhandle, and play the game. He was known for emphasizing thinking ability, which led to skilled players and parents becoming knowledgeable coaches. From 1973-1977, Howie Meeker’s Hockey School was featured on a Canadian television series broadcast by CBC for 107 fifteen-minute episodes. These episodes showcased the “Unique Meeker imprint” with his enthusiasm for the game, highlighting basic physical and mental skills needed to play.
His instruction and coaching continued as he wrote two books while living in Newfoundland. Howie Meeker’s Hockey Basics was published in 1973 and More Hockey Basics from Howie Meeker was published in 1975. These books were extremely influential in shaping the way hockey is played today. His opinions on the lack of basic playing skills lead to his book creating the groundwork for how hockey was taught in the future. He recognized his time in Newfoundland with his training school as the perfect opportunity to test his theories of developing skating power from balance. His first book was selected by the Literary Review of Canada as the 63rd most important book of all time.
Howie’s expertise soon found him employed as a Hockey Analyst for CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada. He enjoyed this position with CBC until 1990; then he joined TSN and worked there until his retirement in 1998. His broadcasting career can be remembered for his use of the telestrator where he made the game simple and easy to understand. He was an open-minded broadcaster who contributed to the advancement of the sport with a drive and determination to fix problems and create skilled players.