Johnny Bower (Born November 8, 1924 in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada) is a Hockey Hall of Fame goalie.
Bower played in the AHL -- largely for the Cleveland Barons -- for eleven seasons in the late 1940s and 1950s, and proved himself the star goaltender of the circuit, winning numerous awards and leading his teams to three Calder Cup championships. He was finally picked up by the New York Rangers of the NHL for the 1953-54 season, but was sent back down to the minor leagues the season following. Bower would toil in the minors four more years in Providence, Vancouver and Cleveland, before being claimed by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1958 Inter-League Draft. He would play eleven full seasons in all with the Leafs, the remainder of his career.
The height of his NHL career came during the Maple Leafs' three consecutive Stanley Cup victories in the early 1960s. His career would be hampered by poor eyesight, but despite that he remained a top-tier goaltender. He was known for his hard-nosed, scruffy playing style and would win another Stanley Cup in 1967 by tandeming with another Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk. His last full season was 1968-69; he played a final game in the fall of 1969 and retired thereafter.
His awards include Hap Holmes Memorial Award (best AHL goaltender, 3 times) and the Vezina Trophy (2 times, at that time awarded for allowing the fewest goals throughout a season). Bower was named a First Team All-Star in 1961. He was awarded the Les Cunningham Trophy as the AHL's Most Valuable Player three times consecutively, one of only four players in North American professional hockey history (Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky and Paul Polillo being the others) to do so at any level of play.
His career stats include: 552 games played, 250 wins, 195 losses, 90 ties, 37 shutouts, and a 2.51 GAA. In addition, he remains the AHL career shutout leader. Bower was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1976.
As an interesting side note, Bower's actual date of birth has always been in considerable dispute -- likely through a desire on his part to conceal how old he really was and so avoid replacement. Many historians believe he was actually born in 1924.