Ellis played junior hockey in OHL League for Toronto Marlboros when Toronto Maple Leafs drafted him. Ellis played his first single NHL match during 1963-64 season but joined the team full-time for the next season. He adapted to the higher level quickly and became soon a household name in Toronto. One special thing about Ron Ellis is that he was born with a club foot, which required years of treatment as a kid. But that did not prevent him from making it to the NHL during the period, when there were only appr. 120 players around at the time.
In his junior years, Ellis played as a centre, but in 1963-64, Maple Leafs had a host of strong players to that position, so Ellis reluctantly agreed to move to the right wing – as otherwise he probably would not have made it to NHL that time but would have been sent to AHL League instead.
Stanley Cup 1966-67
Season 1966-67 was the 50th season for Toronto franchise in NHL. For Maple Leafs, the season was 40th. Maple Leafs was third in the regular season table. Ron Ellis scored 45 points in the regular season, being the third best point scorer of his team.
Maple Leafs played the Stanley Cup finals vs. Montreal Canadiens and won the series in six games. Toronto won their 13th Stanley Cup, and ever since, the team has not made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. This means that their championship drought has lasted way over 50 years now.
Summit Series in 1972
Ellis played in Canadian team in Summit Series of 1972 vs. the Soviet Union. The legendary eight-game series is an essential part of ice hockey legacy. The quality of the Russians took everyone by surprise and during the first game, Paul Henderson said to Ron Ellis: “Ron, this is gonna be a long series”. And he was right.
Ellis retired from the game just before 1975-76 season. However, he made a comeback for World Championships in 1977, playing for Canadian national team. After that, he made a decision to continue his professional career with the Maple Leafs.
Ellis ended up being out of favour from the new management and during season 1980-81, his chances were somewhat limited: either to retire or move to the minor leagues. Thus, Ellis retired in 1981. He played a total of 1034 NHL regular season games and scored 640 points.
Career after ice hockey
After his professional ice hockey career, Ellis worked as a teacher. He worked also in insurance business. From early 1990’s, Ellis worked in Hockey Hall of Fame. So, he is still an important ambassador of the game of hockey.