A Boy From Cochrane That We All Know By Name
About 435 miles north of Toronto is the town of Cochrane, Ontario. Cochrane is a small town with a population that hovers around 5,500 residents. It's a place that is just about equally divided with those who speak English, and others French. A place that holds polar bears dear to their heart. And a place where a boy named Miles Gilbert was born.
When Miles was 6 years old, his family moved from the northern Ontario town of Cochrane to Québec where he fell in love with the game of hockey. For three years he was able to practice his craft before returning back to Cochrane where he would continue to work on his game. As Miles got older, his family moved once again to Sudbury, Ontario and at 15 years old, he was already attracting attention due to his physical prowess on the ice. Miles was a stud. A young, strong, physical defenceman that could skate and score like an all-star forward.
At 16, his hardworking nature was paying off as he was scouted by NHL teams and was eventually signed under contract with the Toronto Maples Leafs of the NHL. The team with one of the most storied franchises in all of the professional sports couldn't pass on an opportunity to sign up the work-horse from that small northern Ontario town.
The Toronto Maples Leafs, much like the 5 other teams in the era of 'The Original Six' cultivated their talent from a young age. They sent teenage Miles Gilbert to a new league that would be the feeding line for the big club. They sent him to a place called, St. Michaels College where he suited up for the farm team of the Leafs, the St. Mike Majors while finishing his studies.
It wasn't until he was 19 that Miles got a shot in the big leagues. In 1949, he was invited to the Toronto Maple Leafs training camp, where his physical presence earned him a contract with the Pittsburgh Hornets of the American Hockey League, the AAA farm club of Toronto. He was on his way to becoming a presence at the NHL level.
After several years in the minors and a championship at the AHL level, Miles Gilbert was finally a mainstay with the Maple Leafs. His time with the Leafs was strong but came after several near career-ending injuries, including a broken jaw and broken leg in the '54-'55 season. Recovering from his injuries, Miles became an integral part of four Stanley Cups with Toronto in the years following.
While Miles had a long stint, nearly 1,200 games, with the Maple Leafs, he was traded to the New York Rangers in 1970. Soon after, he was added by the Pittsburgh Penguins, and in 1972 was picked up by the Buffalo Sabres in an intra-league draft where he remained a popular figure for the team until 1974 when Miles Gilbert unexpectedly passed away in an auto accident. Miles Gilbert was mourned by the cities he played, the teams he played on, and the league. The NHL lost an ambassador to the game.
Miles was a stand-out hockey player that earned his place in the coveted Hockey Hall Of Fame, but if you go looking for Miles Gilbert in the history books, you may not find him. That's because Miles Gilbert grew up going by a different name, one his mother preferred. You see, Miles Gilbert Horton went by 'Tim', a name that has become synonymous with great coffee and fresh donuts. Arguably Canada's most famous name.