In 1963-64, Mike Walton joined the Toronto Marlboros of the OHL and immediately established himself as a top-flight offensive forward. Among a lineup that included future NHLers Ron Ellis, Pete Stemkowski, Gary Smith, and Jim McKenny, the club banded together to secure a Memorial Cup victory by season's end.
Along the way towards the big leagues, Walton married Conn Smythe's granddaughter. This made him part of the Leafs' family in literal terms, but it didn't do much to enhance his relationship with the club's coach, Punch Imlach.
Upon Walton's arrival at his first training camp, Imlach told him to cut off his expansive sideburns and trim his slightly unruly hair. Walton refused. Eventually the two adversaries worked things out between themselves. But that didn't dissuade George Armstrong and Tim Horton from hiding in his room one night, trapping the young recruit and proceeding to work him over like drunken barbers.
Walton survived and after periodic stints in the CHL and AHL secured a regular shift with the Leafs. By the tail end of 1966-67, he enjoyed his first Stanley Cup victory and, by the following season, established himself as a solid NHL sniper.
But by the end of the decade, Walton's relationship with the club began to sour. He was benched by Imlach in 1969 and eventually walked away from the club. Reconciliation followed. But after Imlach was replaced by Johnny McLellan, the same scenario occurred again. This time, Walton sought the assistance of a league-sanctioned psychiatrist who diagnosed him with a depressive illness that was complicated by his family link to the team. He was traded to the Boston Bruins.
After a slow start in Beantown, he gradually regained his confidence and again became a solid NHL scorer. He won his second Stanley Cup in 1972. Walton stuck with the Bruins until 1973. It was at that time that he signed with the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA. There he finished his first season as the league's top scorer with 117 points in 78 games. He played one additional offensively prolific season and then returned to the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks in 1975-76.
From that point onward, save the 1977-78 campaign where he netted 66 points in 65 games, Walton's offensive skills receded as he played out the tail end of his career in a number of locales. In 1978-79, he put in brief stints with the Blues, Blackhawks, Rochester Americans, and the New Brunswick Hawks. He then went overseas to play a final season in Cologne.