Jerry "Topper" Toppazzini (1931-2012)
Hockey fans in Sudbury, Ontario and Boston mourn the former Bruin
The Boston Bruins were saddened to hear of the passing Jerry "Topper" Toppazzini on April 21.
Toppazzini, who was 81, played 659 games over 11 productive seasons with the Bruins and amassed 148-216-364 totals for Boston. A three-time NHL all star, the forward also earned the Elizabeth C. Dufresne Trophy for the Bruins player judged most outstanding in home games for 1956-57 and 57-58 seasons.
In a time when NHL clubs were not required to dress two goaltenders, Toppazzini also spelled injured B's goalie Don Simmons in 1960 to become the last position player to substitute in goal during a NHL game.
In all, Toppazzini played 783 NHL games, scored 163 goals and added 244 assists for 407 total points with Boston, Chicago and Detroit.
After professional coaching stints with the IHL Port Huron Flags as well as the AHL's Springfield Kings, Toppazzini Coached Junior Hockey's Sudbury Wolves for two seasons (1975-76, 1976-77) and was named OHA coach of the year in 1976 when the Wolves finished first overall in the OHA with 102 points. That year Sudbury also reached the OHA finals, but lost to the eventual Memorial Cup champion Hamilton Fincups.Some other highlights of Toppazzini's career include the Barrie Flyers Memorial Cup Championship in 1951 and Toppazzini's induction into the inaugural Sudbury Kinsmen/House of Kin Sports Celebrity Dinner and Awards Hall of Fame on May 4, 1960. He was later named Sudbury's Sportsman of the Year following the Wolves playoff run in 1976.
In 1977 Jerry Toppazzini, whose brother Zellio also played 49 NHL games for Boston, bought the Belvedere Hotel in Sudbury, renovated the building and even now his popular Bruins-themed Beef ‘n Bird Tavern is still family owned and operated.
Toppazzini, a devoted family man, will certainly be missed by everyone who knew him in Sudbury, but Jerry will also always be remembered by fans of his beloved Bruins in Boston.
*Information gathered from www.bruins.nhl.com