The Maple Leafs will kick off their 100th anniversary celebrations this weekend. And looking at Mike Palmateer’s equipment Friday, you’d guess his gear is at least that old.
On this particular day, Palmateer has joined a who’s who of former Maple Leafs at the Mattamy Athletic Centre — the upper floors of the building formerly known as Maple Leaf Gardens — to turn in one final practice before Saturday’s Centennial Classic alumni game at BMO Field against their Detroit Red Wing counterparts. The hairlines have receded and the bellies have ballooned but one thing hasn’t changed — Palmateer’s set of leather pads, which he said are from 1984.
“I don’t think Palmy could carry the big pads anymore,” legendary Leafs pugilist Dave (Tiger) Williams said. “I think if you were to put (Ben) Bishop’s or (Frederik) Andersen’s pads on Palmy, I don’t think you’d see Palmy.”
Under the domed ceiling that made the Gardens famous, this conglomeration of Maple Leafs history is the perfect curtain-raiser to the team’s centennial festivities.