Tim Horton played 18 straight seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Horton's career is a glowing example of dedication, especially when looked back on from today's era of shifting player loyalties and big-dollar free agent signings. In his almost 20 years wearing jersey #7 for the Leafs, Horton was selected to six All-Star teams and won four Stanley Cups. The quiet leader is arguably the best defenceman in Maple Leaf history, and in 1995 was voted along with Borje Salming as defencemen on the All-Time Great Leaf Team. The blue line leader was in fact a wall on defence, and epitomized the combination of strength, stability and character that scouts still search for in young defencemen.
Horton started his hockey career with a scholarship at Toronto's St. Michael's College School in the 1940s. He played in an era when hockey was known for its ferocious streak, but his smart and consistent defensive game, averaging less than a penalty per game, set him apart from his peers. When a group of Russian hockey players saw Tim Horton play a game in the 1960s, they called him the best player they had ever seen -- high praise from a strong hockey nation that appreciated the skills of a sound defensive defenceman as much as those of an offensive star.
Horton never scored more than 40 points in a season, but was a peacemaker on the ice and a calming influence on the Leafs during two of the most successful decades in team history. Tim Horton was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1977, and has been further immortalized by the Canadian chain of coffee shops he started in the 1970s and that still bear his name.
Tim Horton was amazingly strong. During his playing days Gordie Howe called Horton "hockey's strongest man". Some even claim that it was Horton who used his strength and coordination to invent the slap shot.
- Honoured Jersey Number, Toronto Maple Leafs, 1995
- Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, 1977
- J.P. Bickell Memorial Award, Toronto Maple Leafs MVP, 1969
- NHL First All-Star Team Defence, 1968-69
- NHL First All-Star Team Defence, 1967-68
- NHL Second All-Star Team Defence, 1966-67
- NHL First All-Star Team Defence, 1963-64
- NHL Second All-Star Team Defence, 1962-63
- NHL Second All-Star Team Defence, 1953-54