Born and raised in Toronto, Mike Palmateer won over the hometown fans with his youthful personna and acrobatic style between the pipes during his playing career. Palmateer rose to prominence first with the Toronto Marlboros of the Ontario Hockey Association and he helped capture the 1973 Memorial Cup under the guidance of coach George Armstrong.
Palmateer was selected 85th overall by the Leafs in the 1974 NHL Draft. He started and won his first NHL game on October 28, 1976 against the Detroit Red Wings and a little less than three weeks later shut out the defending Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in a memorable contest at Maple Leaf Gardens. He made an immediate impact in the Leafs single season rookie record book by playing in 50 games (4th), winning 23 games (4th), posting four shutouts (3rd-tie), and playing 2,877 minutes (3rd). His best NHL season came in 1977-78 when he posted a record of 34-19-9 with five shutouts and a goals against average of 2.74 in 63 games.
In the long history of the franchise, Palmateer stands fifth all-time in wins (129), fourth in games (296), and fourth in minutes (16,847). His 16 career assists are the most by a Leafs goaltender all-time.
Backstopped by the play of Palmateer, the Leafs earned playoff berths in each of his first four seasons from 1976-77 to 1979-1980, winning four series along the way. His clubs came out victorious in the three out of four preliminary round series (best of threes) and he played a pivotal role in the Leafs' thrilling seven-game series defeat of the formidable Islanders in 1978. He made 22 clutch saves in the memorable 2-1 overtime thriller at the Nassau County Coliseum.
'The Popcorn Kid' was traded to Washington following the 1979- 80 season but later returned for the 1982-83 and 1983-84 seasons. Bothered by knee issues, Palmateer played in his final NHL game in the Blue and White on February 5, 1984.
Mike Palmateer was the 1979 recipient of the J.P. Bickell Memorial Cup as selected by the Directors of Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd.