Ice Hockey

Johnny Bower: Born, Family, Nickname, Height, Spouse, Died

Johnny Bower
Written by Jon Snow


Full Name John William Kiszka
Nickname (s) The China Wall
Profession (s) Professional Ice-hockey Player

Physical Stats and More

Height (approx.) in centimeters: 175 cm
in meters: 2.01 m
in feet inches: 5 ft 9 in
Weight (approx.) in kilogram: 77 kg
in pounds: 170 lbs.
Eye color Black
Body Type Athletic

Personal Information

Date of Birth Nov 8, 1924
Died Dec 26, 2017
Aged 93 years
Zodiac Sign Scorpio
Place of Birth Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Ethnicity White
Complexion Fair
Mother Tongue English
Sexual Orientation Not Known
Signature Male

Family Information

Father John Kiszkan
Mother Betty Kiszkan
Siblings Eight


First Game 1944
NHL Statistics Career


552 250 192 90 37 104.3 31989 2.51 .922

Awards and Honours

Money Factor

Total worth $1-5 Million
Aaron Judge Quotes
  • “The first thing I would do when I saw Bobby coming down at me was to say a little prayer if I had time. I’m sure I wasn’t the only goalie who did that.”
  • “I just made up my mind that I was going to lose my teeth and have my face cut to pieces.”

Lesser Known Facts about Johnny Bower

  • Johnny Bower was one of the most famous Canadian Ice Hockey player. He had excellent goalkeeper skills and so his nickname “the China Wall” is justified. He used to play for the Toronto Maple leaves which is an Ontario based hockey club and a member of the Eastern Conference of the NHL.
  • When Johnny had joined the Toronto leaves it was just an upcoming team of new enthusiastic players but the three consecutive wins of the Stanley cup after his is joining turn his fate.
  • He was not only just a player for the leaves as after retirement, but he also served as a scout, a coach, and a mentor in the upcoming years. He was one of the most integral parts of the leaf and his death was a setback for them which was reflected in the farewell through to him after his death.
  • Johnny was born in a Ukrainian Canadian family in the gateway to the north city of Prince Albert. He was from a very humble background and spent his childhood in relatively poor conditions.
  • His father was a labor and mother a housewife and had a pretty big family of seven sisters and one brother it was evident that what the family made was not well enough for them when asked about his childhood Johnny told the world how he taught himself hockey with broomstick and made Goli pad with the old rejected mattresses.
  • This all might seem dramatic or filmy to some of us but it must have been Johnny’s struggle through these days which would have taught him how to stay calm and composed in situations and handle the ups and downs of life without getting too much influenced by them.
  • The poor conditions of office family led him to lie about his age during the Second World War to get recruitment in the Canadian Army, as a result, he was even stationed in British Columbia and later sent to England with the second Canadian division but then later was discharged due to arthritis in hands. It’s so hard to believe that the same one who was once dismissed due to Arthritis became one of the world’s best athletes and probably the most successful hockey goalkeeper, till date.
  • Bower in his autobiography the China Wall discusses his childhood and remembers how each day during 1930 is used to be e a struggle of existence due to the Great Depression.
  • He also mentions the winter which led ample abandoned Ice surfaces for the big player to rise. He was interested and fond of hockey even when he was a child and a sign of great players is that they love the sport and are not fanboys of teams but of great sportsmen, no matter which team they belong to.
  • When all his friends used to chair for the Toronto maple leaves, he used to chair for the Boston Bruins for their great goalkeeper Mr. Zero.
  • After returning from the war front, he started out at the American Hockey League and spent the biggest crunch of his carrier playing the next eleven seasons between the ’40s and ’50s.

Johnny Bower

  • He rarely wished to play in front which is just opposite of what is seen in children but it is rightly said that legends are the rarest of all cases. His winter work paid off in the league and people started seeing him as one of the most promising players in the league.
  • The first eight seasons playing for the Cleveland Barons which is the most successful team in the history of the American Hockey League, gave him enough bread with some butter but the real party time was in 53-54, when the New York Rangers preferred him for the goalie starting job over the year’s rookie winner and he played the full season with them. Later due to some internal calls he was held back and then returned to the minors.
  • He won numerous awards during this span including the HAL’s best player award thrice. The same is boldly illustrated in the HAL’s Hall of Fame.
  • After returning into the minor league his carrier again witnessed the light of day when the Toronto Maple Leafs claimed him in 58. His life was full of dramatic twists and turns so this one could have been no different.
  • At first, he sarcastically turned down the offer saying that he would not be of much help to the team. Some say that it just took the big gun Punch Implach to convince him and Implach did well by telling how talented and promising he was but the fact of the matter is it took several legal warnings after which Johnny strike the ground. One thing which is common about all the stories is after he came there was no looking back and within games, he proved himself to be the best Goal-Tender.
  • He went with a full gush at the age of 31 and it is believed the greatest contribution of any in individual in the three Stanley cups of 62, 63 and 64 was of him. Ironically, he had an aggressive style of defense where he would exhibit nose dives and scratchy moves like no one else in the sport did.
  • The same man who was turning down the Leaf’s offer to join them by telling how tired he was roaming down the country was the best athlete in the Champion team.
  • He truly seemed unstoppable during and after the cups and was breaking records of his very own favorite Mr. Zero.
  • In fact, he was getting better over himself with the games. On being asked about his gameplay then, he used to reply that he was enjoying the platform and the team which really used to motivate him not only to continue but also to grow and improve in each game.
  • But there are certain things on which you lose control after a certain age. Among these is Eyesight. Probably it was a call by the nature to bring the Legend out of the arena that his eyesight started deteriorating remarkably. Even then he still managed to play for over four years with an amazing and spectacular Exhibition of reflexes like someone had done never before. He was the key player of the 67 Stanley cup won by the Leafs, Although, this was not his last Stanley cup.
  • He continued to play for another two years and it was at the age of 44 when he played his last cup game and became the oldest goaltender to play in a Stanley Cup playoff match.
  • January 2004 saw Bower featuring on a postage stamp. Being a part of the NHL All-Stars Collection, he was also immortalized along with five other All-Stars. In the year 2005, the Royal Canadian Mint had a Bower feature on a non-circulating fifty-cent coin, as part of its four-coin Legends of the Toronto Maple Leafs coin set.
  • On May 24, 2014, Bower attended a street renaming ceremony in Weston in Toronto. Patika Avenue, where he lived during the 1960s, was renamed Johnny Bower Boulevard.
  • Bower was the first goaltender to employ the poke check, an aggressive move whereby the goalie uses his stick to poke the puck away from an attacking player, sometimes leaving his crease to do so. This move has since been imitated by goaltenders at all levels of hockey.
  • Bower was able to capture two Vezina trophies, only that he wasn’t alone when he was awarded it the second time, around. The goaltending tandem of Bowers and Terry Sawchuk became the first co-winners in NHL history to share the honor as the two combined for a 2.47 goals-against average. Bower’s first Vezina came in the 1960-61 season when he led the league with 33 wins, making him go down in the history books as one the most prolific sports personalities.
  • Bower’s last full game was played on December 10, 1969, in a 6-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens. At 45 years, 1 month and 2 days, Bower is thus, still regarded as the oldest full-time goalie in the entire history of NHL, loosely followed by Roberto Luongo who is the league’s oldest goaltender at 38 years old.

Johnny Bower

  • In September of 2014, Bower’s statue was unveiled outside of the Air Canada Centre as a part of the team’s Legends Row. That same year, a street in Toronto’s Weston Village was renamed Johnny Bower Boulevard.
  • Goaltending appealed to Bower when he was merely eight years old – despite the discomfort of a stationary post on frigid outdoors. “I used to watch the defencemen and forwards get bounced around, knocked down and get back up again,” he once told writer Stan Fischler. “I figured, heck, I got it better than they do. At least I’m still standing on my feet.”
  • In 1965, Bower received a once-in-a-lifetime offer as he was asked to sing “Honky the Christmas Goose”, a song for a TV show about a wild goose that ate too much and wasn’t able to fly but still manages to save Santa Claus at the end of it all. Bower knew he wasn’t the greatest singer, but he couldn’t turn down the offer after he found out the proceeds were going to charity.
  • The way he used to play did not only won games and register victories but also used to be a treat for the eyes of the sport’s enthusiasts. People used to watch the games expecting an old legend struggling but what they could see was a hot piece of energy in one of the ends of the iced cold Arena. He was popular within spectators of all the age and was an inspiration for not only the people of that particular sport but also in general.
  • It is rightly said that even the crowns of Kings are tarnished by the air of time. He one of the fittest players in terms of then muscle weight ratio and strength and stamina. For this, he used to work very hard in comparison to his other team members as it is not at all easy for a man to match the fitness of sportsperson who is almost half of his age.
  • The difference between Warriors and legends is that they pass the test of time. His age and deteriorating eyesight could though successfully bring him out of the arena but he still had played a left within him. He continued to be a part of the leaf but now as a scout. Later he was also as the coach of the team and continued to contribute by my mentoring the young players in such a way that they crack the code for bringing laurels to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
  • His post-retirement life was also full of glorious events like being listed in Hall of Fame of the American Hockey League and the National Hockey League. His passion for the sport and love for his team was never-ending and the fact was executed on several occasions where he made public appearances for the team
  • On the 26th of December 2017, one of the most prominent leaders of the Toronto maple leaf left the plant forever. His death was seen as a great loss and was observed by prominent personalities of sport all over the world the farewell given by the leaf’s it was a very emotional one for or all the fans of this star.
  • The city of Toronto shows its gratitude towards the Legend by observing Johnny Bower’s day on the 3rd of January every year. His life was a perfect example of how one can rise to true success from even the worse conditions and become a legend to be remembered in the times to come.


About the author

Jon Snow

Leave a Comment