NHL

HNIC legend Meeker receives Order of Canada honour

Former Toronto Maple Leaf and Hockey Night in Canada commentator Howie Meeker was among the 43 people invested with the Order of Canada in a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Friday.
Gov. Gen. David Johnston (right) presents the Order of Canada to former long time Hockey Night in Canada commentator Howie Meeker (left) at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Friday. (Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press)

Former Toronto Maple Leaf and Hockey Night in Canada commentator Howie Meeker was among the 43 people invested with the Order of Canada in a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Friday.

Meeker, who won the rookie of the year award with the Leafs in 1946, also earned the Foster Hewitt Memorial honour in 1998 for excellence in hockey broadcasting. He was also inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame's broadcast wing in 1998, and to the CBC Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

As a pioneer broadcaster with HNIC in the 1970s and 80s, Meeker was one the first to use a telestrator in breaking down game tape during intermissions. 

From 1973 to 1977, the CBC's Howie Meeker Hockey School — with its 15-minute episodes — showed off Meeker's knowledge and enthusiasm to Canadian kids as they learned the ins and outs of the game.

"It's really an honour to join a lot of very important and talented people who have won the same award," said Meeker, who was born in Kitchener, Ont., but lived for 30 years in New Hamburg, Ont., where he said he dreamed "one day, when he was on the pond," of playing for the Leafs.

When asked about receiving the country's highest civilian honour, Meeker called Canada the "greatest country in the world," adding, "It's full of neat people."

In total, Gov. Gen. David Johnston presented 29 members and 14 officers with their insignia of membership.

Rock legend Robbie Robertson and actor Michael J. Fox were also among 43 people invested on Friday.

With files from CBCSports.ca

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