Meeker’s biggest problem was with Conn’s son Stafford, who was gradually taking control of the team. It was Meeker’s opinion that Stafford was blocking his attempts to re-make the Leafs, then criticizing him for not doing his job. Ironically, both men were tracking the progress of a rising hockey man named Punch Imlach, Meeker to have Imlach work for him, Smythe plotting to dump Meeker and install Imlach.
A training camp meeting in 1957 between Smythe and Meeker turned nasty and when Smythe pushed Meeker in the chest to make a point. Meeker slugged him in the face and stormed out of his executive job before the Leafs played a game that year. He kept busy in the 1960s running a large youth hockey program on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula, but being out of the game as a day-to-day participant gnawed at him.
He did some radio broadcast work for CJON in St. John’s, but supplemented his income as a sales and promotions man for major companies such as Toyota cars, Samsonite luggage and Mattel toys. It was during a trip through Montreal in 1968 for a toy convention that he bumped into local TV play-by-play man Ted Darling, who needed a guest analyst for a game against visiting Chicago.
“The rest as they say, is history,” Meeker wrote in his 1999 book Stop It There, Back It Up! “I had no idea at the time what an amazing series of events was about to unfold when I first stuck on the headset.”
The squeaky-sounding Meeker figured he would get only one shot on an NHL telecast so gosh, golly gee, he should let ‘er rip.