Léo Joseph Boivin - Born August 2, 1932 in Prescott, Ontario is a retired Canadian professional ice Hockey defenceman and coach.
Leo Boivin began playing Hockey at the age of seven on the frozen ice surfaces of Prescott, Ontario, and the St. Lawrence river. Like many youngsters in the area, the River was a big part of Leo's childhood. In the summer he would swim and fish there. But it was the winter came that really made Leo happy. That's when the river would freeze over, and water became a host to Hockey.
"We had many a Hockey game on the St. Lawrence River. We had some open air rinks close by and anytime the river was frozen, we'd go there and skate too. I remember being on skates since I could walk," Leo told Brian McFalone in his excellent book "Over The Glass And Into the Crowd." As a youngster, my Dad made a rink right beside our house and I used to skate on that all the time, he remembers. "Across the road from where we lived, they had a rink there and I used to skate and practice over there. That's how I started."
Boivin started playing organized Hockey, and quickly found his calling. "I got into Bantam and Midget Hockey and knew that I wanted to be a defenceman because defencemen got to stay on the ice longer."
Leo was recruited for the Inkerman Rockets, a junior team in a small town founded in 1942 by a local school teacher. The Rockets grew to enjoy much reknown, partly because Boivin helped make the team competitive against squads from much larger centres. "I went to the Inkerman Rockets for two years. I was playing for them and we were in a pre-season tournament with Kingston and a scout for the Boston Bruins was there. He had watched me play for two seasons, and he signed me to a 'B' Form with the Boston Bruins, which was just to go to training camp."
Boivin then played 2 years with the Port Arthur West End Bruins, and during his second year there, Boston traded his rights to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Leafs were searching for a replacement for hard-hitting defenceman Bill Barilko, who had disappeared while on a fishing trip to northern Quebec during the summer of 1951. "Bill Barilko being lost was a terrible thing." They believed that the tough, young defenceman from Prescott just might fit the hole they had on their blueline. "That was my game even in junior Hockey. I just kept getting better and better at bodychecking."
Boivin turned professional with the American Hockey League champion Pittsburgh Hornets in 1951-52, but was called up to the Maple Leafs for a two-game tryout late that season, making his NHL debut in a 6-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings on March 8, 1952. "My team growing up as a kid was the Montreal Canadiens. I used to listen to them on the radio all the time. ('Butch') Bouchard and (Maurice) Richard and all those guys. When I played with Toronto in 1952, I played against Billy Reay, Elmer Lach, Butch Bouchard - all my heroes."
Boivin remained in Toronto until 1955 when he got traded to the Boston Bruins. It was in Boston where he really became a top notch defensemen. He starred in Boston for 11 years. A fierce rivalry existed between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens during the late-1950's. "We had some great games with Montreal. We ended up playing Montreal twice for the Stanley Cup, once in 1957 and again in 1958." in which the Canadiens won both on route to 5 Stanley Cups in a row.
Boivin became Captain of the Boston Bruins in 1963, and was captain of the Bruins for four of his twelve years in Boston, and fans will always remember him for his body checking skills. Foster Hewitt said it best when he described this particular play involving Boivin and the great Frank Mahovlich.
"Mahovlich has a breakaway! He's at the Boston blue line. Only Boivin between him and the goal. Big Frank dekes left. Now he shifts right, trying to sweep around the burly Boston defenseman . . . WHAMMO! `Uh-oh! Boivin catches No. 27 with a wicked hip check. Frank does a cartwheel. Now Boivin has the puck . . . ''
During his years in Boston, Boivin was selected to participate in the NHL's All-Star Game in 1961, 1962 and 1964.
Boston then fell on some hard times when they finished in last place for three years straight. Boivin was on the move once again this time to the Detroit Red Wings on February 16, 1966. Boivin helped the Wings to the Stanley Cup finals in his first year there, losing to Montreal again, this time in six games.
In 1967, the NHL doubled in size, and the Original Six was no more. Boivin was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Expansion Draft, returning to the city where he began his professional Hockey career sixteen years earlier.
In January 1969, the Penguins traded Boivin to the Minnesota North Stars. The North Stars ended the 1969-70 season in third place in the West Division, but were eliminated in the quarter-finals.
The North Stars released him in the summer of 1970, and instead of taking an offer to join Punch Imlach's Buffalo Sabres, Boivin opted to retire.
After retiring as a player, Leo stayed in the game as a scout. He went behind the bench as the interim coach of the St. Louis Blues during the 1975-76 and 1977-78 seasons, and later coached the Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League, but discovered he preferred scouting to coaching. After a decade in St. Louis Boivin followed Emile Francis to Hartford and scouted for the Whalers until he retired as a scout in 1993.
Boivin played 1,150 regular season contests, scoring 72 goals and contributing 250 assists for 322 points. In 54 playoff games, Leo collected 3 goals and 10 assists.
Leo Boivin was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1986.