2024 CONN SMYTHE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
It seems absolutely PERFECT that on the night of March 27 we celebrate No. 27 Darryl Sittler with the 2024 Conn Smythe Lifetime Achievement Award for significant contributions to Canadian sports!
The 73rd Bruce Power & The Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario Conn Smythe Sports Celebrities Dinner & Auction in support of Easter Seals Kids is also thrilled to reunite Sittler and Lanny McDonald. They starred as teammates/linemates with the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1973 to ’79 and remain best friends to this day. McDonald will do the honours of introducing Sittler as only he can.
Sittler is the 10th recipient of the Conn Smythe Lifetime Achievement Award. Cliff Fletcher (2016), Paul Beeston (2017), Paul Henderson (2018), Jerry Howarth (2019), Michael (Pinball) Clemons (2020), Wayne Gretzky (2021), Joe Carter (2022), Eric Lindros (2022) and Marnie McBean (2023) are the others to have had this distinguished accolade bestowed upon them.
As a superstar Maple Leaf from 1970 to ’82 – including serving as captain from 1975 to ’81 – Sittler is fully versed about the legacy of Maple Leafs founder Conn Smythe whose passion for Easter Seals Kids fostered his firm commitment to fundraising for the organization.
That included his devotion to this dinner right from its launch in 1952. Smythe’s Maple Leafs also annually promoted Easter Seals Kids in various other ways such as their team calendars and the Easter Seals Kids Skate with the Leafs.
“I remember the dinners and seeing celebrities like Whipper Billy Watson when he’d carry Timmy or Tammy to the head table,” Sittler said. “I also remember the times our players spent with Easter Seals Kids and seeing them having their pictures taken with guys like George Armstrong.”
Sittler fondly recalls his many years of participation in the Easter Seals Skates. All those memories, along with the company he joins, make this recognition even more special.
“It’s an honour to be picked for this award,” Sittler said. “I pretty well know all of the other recipients. They were exceptional contributors to Canadian sports and to their communities.”
When it comes to inspiration and respect among all-time Canadian athletes few can match Sittler’s stature and accomplishments. Born in Kitchener on September 18, 1950 and growing up in nearby St. Jacob’s, he forged a brilliant career that led to his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1989. With the likes of Sittler, McDonald, Borje Salming, Ian Turnbull, Mike Palmateer, Tiger Williams, Errol Thompson and so many others, the 1970s Leafs restored pride and passion to the organization.
In 844 regular-season games with the Leafs, Sittler established the club record for goals (389) and points (916) until surpassed by Mats Sundin (420 goals/987 points). Sittler became the first Leaf with 100 points in a season with 41 goals and 59 assists in 1975-76.
Ah, yes, 1976 – now that was quite a year for Sittler who produced an unprecedented hat trick of remarkable deeds!
On February 7, 1976, he set the National Hockey League record for most points in one game with 10 (six goals, four assists) in the 11-4 trouncing of the Boston Bruins at Maple Leaf Gardens.
On April 22, 1976 in the brawl-filled sixth game of a nasty playoff series between the Leafs and the Philadelphia Flyers, Sittler scored five times against Bernie Parent to spark the 8-5 win at the Gardens. That made Sittler the third player in NHL history to score five goals in a Stanley Cup playoff game – and the first to do so since Rocket Richard in 1944.
Finally, on September 15, 1976 at the Montreal Forum, Sittler fired the overtime winner for Team Canada against Czechoslovakia to secure the Canada Cup title.
Great moments delivered by a superb player who thrived on hard work, determination and leadership.
We salute – and congratulate – Darryl Sittler on his well-deserved 2024 Conn Smythe Lifetime Achievement Award!