Jerome Gerald "Topper" Toppazzini - Born July 29, 1931 in Copper Cliff, Ontario – Died April 21, 2012 in Sudbury, Ontario was a Canadian ice Hockey right winger.
Toppazzini played his junior Hockey with the Copper Cliff Jr. Redmen, and during his first season 1946-47 with the Redmen, got to play and practice with Tim Horton and George Armstrong. During his second season with the Redmen, Toppazzini got to play in 7 Memorial Cup playoff games, scoring 2 goals and 3 assists.
Toppazzini played with the St. Catharines Teepees during the 1948-49 season, scoring 24 goals & 20 assists in 45 games, and another 2 goals, 2 assists in 5 playoff games for the Teepees.
Toppazzini then played for the Barrie Flyers from 1949 to 1951, and led the team with 40 goals and 90 points in 54 games, going on to add 34 points in 23 playoff games to spearhead the Flyers to its first Memorial Cup championship in 1951.
Turning pro, with the Boston Bruins, Toppazzini spent the following season with their American Hockey League / AHL farm team, the Hershey Bears, playing with his younger brother Teddy and helping the Bears to a division title with 20 goals and 25 assists in 54 games.
Toppazzini made his NHL debut for the 1952-53 season with the Bruins, scoring 23 points in 69 games. The following season, splitting time between Hershey and the Bruins, he was traded to the Chicago Black Hawks for center Gus Bodnar on February 16, 1954. Toppazzini played 84 games in a Black Hawks jersey, scoring 14 goals and 21 assists.
Toppazzini then part of the largest transaction in league history at the time, when on May 27, 1955 he was traded to the Detroit Red Wings by Chicago with Dave Creighton, Gord Hollingworth and John McCormack for Tony Leswick, Glen Skov, Johnny Wilson and Benny Woit. Toppazzini played just 40 games for the Red Wings before he was traded back to the Bruins by Detroit with Real Chevrefils for Murray Costello and Lorne Ferguson, January 17, 1956, and finished the season with the Bruins, scoring 7 goals and 7 assists in 28 games.
Wearing #21, Toppazzini remained with Boston for the next nine seasons, blossoming into a skilled two-way player while playing on a line with smooth center Don McKenney and hard charging left wing Fleming Mackell; the trio was Boston's best line as they surged to the Stanley Cup finals in 1957, knocking off the heavily favored former Cup champion Detroit Red Wings en route, but losing to the dynasty Montreal Canadiens who were in the middle of 5 straight Stanley Cup victories.
His best seasons statistically were 1957-58, when Toppazzini scored a career high 25 goals in the regular season and added nine goals in the Stanley Cup playoffs (with a hat trick against the New York Rangers and three game-winning goals) in leading the Bruins to the Cup finals again, as Boston would mount a serious challenge to the dynastic Montreal Canadiens for NHL supremacy. During the season, he also set a then-NHL record by scoring seven short-handed goals in one season.
Always a fan favorite, he won the Elizabeth C Dufresne Trophy twice in a row, in 1956-57 and 1957–58, as the best performing and most popular Boston Bruin at home games.
On October 16, 1960, Toppazzini substituted for Boston goaltender Don Simmons, who was injured with thirty seconds left in a match against the Chicago Black Hawks. At the time, teams were not required to carry a backup goaltender on the bench, although they were required to have one available in the arena. Reportedly, Toppazzini did not want to wait for the Black Hawks' house goaltender to suit up. He faced no shots in his brief stint. By the 1965 playoffs, the NHL ruled that all teams must have a spare goaltender on the bench and ready to play. Toppazzini is thus the last position player to substitute in goal during a NHL match.
Toppazzini scored 19 goals en route to a career high 50 points during the 1961-62 season, but was later traded to Chicago by Boston with Matt Ravlich for Murray Balfour and Mike Draper, June 9, 1964. Then traded to Detroit (Pittsburgh Hornets-AHL) by Chicago (Buffalo Bisons-AHL) for Hank Ciesla, October 10, 1964.
Toppazzini played 65 games for the AHL Hornets, scoring 16 goals and 31 assists. His rights were then acquired by the Los Angeles Blades of the Western Hockey League in the 1965 Reverse Draft; he initially held out before joining the Blades for the 1966 and 1967 seasons. He finished his playing career in 1968 as the player-coach of the Port Huron Flags of the International Hockey League.
After his retirement as a player, Toppazzini was named coach of the Springfield Kings of the American Hockey League in 1972, but was let go after two seasons in which the Kings finished in last place both years.
n 1975, he returned to Sudbury to coach the Sudbury Wolves. In his first season, while coaching the likes of Mike Foligno, Randy Carlyle, Rod Schutt and Ron Duguay, he posted the winningest record in club history and won the 1976 OHL coach of the year award. That year, the Wolves lost in the league final to Dale McCourt's Hamilton Fincups. Toppazzini was later named Sudbury's Sportsman of the Year following the Wolves playoff run in 1976.
In 1977, Toppazzini bought the Belvedere Hotel on Lorne Street in Sudbury, and converted it into the iconic Boston Bruins-themed sports bar and family restaurant known as the Beef 'n Bird. Over the next 25 years, the Beef 'n Bird became renowned for pioneering Porketta Bingo on Saturday afternoons. Among other things, that tradition became a successful fundraiser for Copper Cliff Minor Hockey, an organization that was never far from his heart.
Jerry Toppazzini was inducted into the inaugural Sudbury Kinsmen/House of Kin Sports Celebrity Dinner and Awards Hall of Fame on May 4, 1960. "It was a great award for me personally coming home," he said at the time. "I don't think that I won it. Hockey won it. I wasn't expecting it."