Toronto Maple Leafs
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Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leafs
2017-18 Toronto Maple Leafs season
Toronto Maple Leafs 2016 logo.svg
Conference Eastern
Division Atlantic
Founded 1917
History Toronto Arenas
Toronto St. Patricks
Toronto Maple Leafs
Home arena Air Canada Centre
City Toronto, Ontario

Blue, white[1][2]

Media Leafs Nation Network
Sportsnet Ontario
Sportsnet 590 The Fan
TSN Radio 1050
Owner(s) Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd.
(Larry Tanenbaum, chairman)
General manager Lou Lamoriello
Head coach Mike Babcock
Captain Vacant
Minor league affiliates Toronto Marlies (AHL)
Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL)
Stanley Cups 13 (1917-18, 1921-22, 1931-32, 1941-42, 1944-45, 1946-47, 1947-48, 1948-49, 1950-51, 1961-62, 1962-63, 1963-64, 1966-67)
Conference championships 0
Presidents' Trophy 0
Division championships 5 (1932-33, 1933-34, 1934-35, 1937-38, 1999-2000)
Official website

The Toronto Maple Leafs (officially the Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Club) are a professional ice hockey team based in Toronto, Ontario. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The club is owned by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, Ltd. and are represented by Chairman Larry Tanenbaum. With an estimated worth of US $1.4 billion in 2017 according to Forbes, the Maple Leafs are the second most valuable franchise in the NHL, after the New York Rangers.[3] The Maple Leafs' broadcasting rights are split between BCE Inc. and Rogers Communication.[4] For their first 14 seasons, the club played their home games at the Mutual Street Arena, before moving to Maple Leaf Gardens in 1931. The Maple Leafs moved to their present home, the Air Canada Centre in February 1999.

The club was founded in 1917, operating simply as Toronto and known then as the Toronto Arenas. Under new ownership, the club was renamed the Toronto St. Patricks in 1919. In 1927 the club was purchased by Conn Smythe and renamed the Maple Leafs. A member of the "Original Six," the club was one of six NHL teams to have endured through the period of League retrenchment during the Great Depression. The club has won thirteen Stanley Cup championships, second only to the 24 championships of the Montreal Canadiens. The Maple Leafs history includes two recognized dynasties, from 1947 to 1951; and from 1962 to 1967.[5][6] Winning their last championship in 1967, the Maple Leafs' 50-season drought between championships is the longest current drought in the NHL. The Maple Leafs have developed rivalries with three NHL franchises, the Detroit Red Wings, the Montreal Canadiens, and the Ottawa Senators.

The Maple Leafs have retired the use of thirteen numbers in honour of nineteen players. In addition, a number of individuals who hold an association with the club have been inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame. The Maple Leafs are presently affiliated with two minor league teams, the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League, and the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL.

Team history

Early years (1917-1927)

The National Hockey League was formed in 1917 in Montreal by teams formerly belonging to the National Hockey Association (NHA) that had a dispute with Eddie Livingstone, owner of the Toronto Blueshirts. The owners of the other four clubs -- the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Quebec Bulldogs and the Ottawa Senators -- wanted to get rid of Livingstone, but discovered that the NHA constitution did not allow them to simply vote him out of the league.[7] Instead, they opted to create a new league, the NHL, and did not invite Livingstone to join them. They also remained voting members of the NHA, and thus had enough votes to suspend the other league's operations, effectively leaving Livingstone's squad in a one-team league.[8]

Team photo of the Arenas from the 1917-18 season. The club won its first Stanley Cup in their inaugural season.

The NHL had decided that it would operate a four-team circuit, made up of the Canadiens, Maroons, Ottawa, and one more club in either Quebec or Toronto. Toronto's inclusion in the NHL's inaugural season was formally announced on November 26, 1917, with concerns over the Bulldog's financial stability surfacing.[9] The League granted temporary franchise rights to the Arena Company, owners of the Arena Gardens.[10] The NHL granted the Arena responsibility of the Toronto franchise for only for the inaugural season, with specific instructions to resolve the dispute with Livingstone, or transfer ownership of the Toronto franchise back to the League at the end of the season.[11] The roster was composed almost entirely of former Blueshirts, including Harry Cameron and Reg Noble, but the club does not claim their history. The franchise did not have an official name, but was informally called "the Blueshirts" or "the Torontos" by the fans and press.[12] During the inaugural season the club performed the first trade in NHL history, sending Sammy Hebert to the Senators, in return for cash.[13] Under manager Charlie Querrie, and head coach Dick Carroll, the team won the Stanley Cup in the inaugural 1917-18 season.[14]

For the next season, rather than return the Blueshirts' players to Livingstone as originally promised, on October 19, 1918, the Arena Company applied to become permanent franchise, the Toronto Arena Hockey Club, which was readily granted by the NHL.[15] The Arena Company also decided that year that only NHL teams were allowed to play at the Arena Gardens--a move which effectively killed the NHA.[16] Livingstone sued to get his players back. Mounting legal bills from the dispute forced the Arenas to sell some of their stars, resulting in a horrendous five-win season in 1918-19. With the company facing increasing financial difficulties, and the Arenas officially eliminated from the playoffs, the NHL agreed to let the team forfeit their last two games.[13][2] Operations halted on February 20, 1919, with the NHL ending its season and starting the playoffs. The Arenas' .278 winning percentage that season is still the worst in franchise history. However, the 1919 Stanley Cup Finals ended without a winner due to the worldwide flu epidemic.[13]

The team was known as the St. Patricks from 1919 to 1927.
Team photo of the club during the 1921-22 season. Then known as the St. Patricks, the club won its second Stanley Cup in 1922.

The legal dispute forced the Arena Company into bankruptcy, and it was forced to sell the team. On December 9, 1919, Querrie brokered the team's purchase by the owners of the St. Patricks Hockey Club, allowing him to maintain an ownership stake in the team.[17] The new owners renamed the team the Toronto St. Patricks (or St. Pats for short), which they used until 1927.[18] Changing the colours of the team from blue to green, the club won their second Stanley Cup championship in 1922.[2]Babe Dye scored four times in the 5-1 Stanley Cup-clinching victory against the Vancouver Millionaires.[19] In 1924 Jack Bickell invested $25,000 in the St. Pats as a favour to his friend Querrie, who needed to financially reorganize his hockey team.[20]

Conn Smythe era (1927-1961)

After a number of financially difficult seasons, the St. Patricks' ownership group seriously considered selling the team to C. C. Pyle for CAD$200,000. Pyle sought to move the team to Philadelphia.[2][21] However, Toronto Varsity Graduates' coach Conn Smythe put together a group of his own and made a $160,000 offer. With the support of St. Pats shareholder J. P. Bickell, Smythe persuaded Querrie to accept their bid, arguing that civic pride was more important than money.[21]

After taking control on February 14, 1927, Smythe immediately renamed the team the Maple Leafs, after the national symbol of Canada.[22] He attributed his choice of a maple leaf for the logo to his experiences as a Canadian Army officer and prisoner of war during World War I. Viewing the maple leaf as a "badge of courage," and a reminder of home, Smythe decided to give the same name to his hockey team, in honour of the many Canadian soldiers who wore it.[2][23][24] However, the team was not the first to use the name. A Toronto minor-league baseball team had used the name "Maple Leafs" since 1896.

Initial reports were that the team's colours were to be red and white,[25] but the Leafs wore white sweaters with a green maple leaf for their first game on February 17, 1927.[26] On September 27, 1927, it was announced that the Leafs had changed their colour scheme to blue and white.[27] Although Smythe later stated he chose blue because it represents the Canadian skies and white to represent snow, these colours were also used on his gravel and sand business' trucks.[27] The colour scheme also followed a longstanding tradition of top-level, Toronto-based teams using blue as their primary colour, starting with the Toronto Argonauts in 1873, the University of Toronto Varsity Blues in 1877, the Maple Leafs baseball team, as well as the NHA's Toronto Blueshirts.

Opening of Maple Leaf Gardens (1930s)

The Kid Line featuring Charlie Conacher, Joe Primeau, and Busher Jackson, led the Leafs to win the 1932 Stanley Cup, as well as four more Stanley Cup finals appearances over the next six years.
The Kid Line consisted of Charlie Conacher, Joe Primeau, and Busher Jackson (left to right). They led the Leafs to win the 1932 Stanley Cup, as well as four more Stanley Cup finals appearances over the next six years.

Despite four more lacklustre seasons (including three with Smythe as coach), Smythe saw the increasing popularity of the team, and the need for a new arena. Finding an adequate number of financiers, he purchased land from the Eaton family, and construction of the arena was completed in five months.[28][29] The Maple Leafs debuted at their new arena, Maple Leaf Gardens, with a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Black Hawks on November 12, 1931.[29] The debut also featured Foster Hewitt in his newly constructed 'gondola' above the ice surface, where he began his famous Hockey Night in Canada radio broadcasts that eventually came to be a Saturday-night tradition.[29]

By the 1931-32 NHL season, the Maple Leafs were led by the "Kid Line" consisting of Busher Jackson, Joe Primeau and Charlie Conacher and coached by Dick Irvin. The Leafs captured their third Stanley Cup that season, vanquishing the Chicago Black Hawks in the first round, the Montreal Maroons in the semifinals, and the New York Rangers in the finals.[30] Smythe took particular pleasure in defeating the Rangers that year. He had been tapped as the Rangers' first general manager and coach for their inaugural season (1926-27), but had been fired in a dispute with Madison Square Garden management before the season had begun.[31]

Maple Leafs' star forward Ace Bailey was nearly killed in 1933 when Boston Bruins defenceman Eddie Shore checked him from behind at full speed into the boards.[32] Leafs defenceman Red Horner knocked Shore out with a punch, but Bailey, writhing on the ice, had his career ended.[29] The Leafs held the Ace Bailey Benefit Game, the NHL's first All-Star Game, to collect medical funds to help Bailey. His jersey was retired later the same night.[33] The Leafs reached the finals five times in the next seven years, but bowed out to the now-defunct Maroons in 1935, the Detroit Red Wings in 1936, Chicago in 1938, Boston in 1939 as well as the Rangers in 1940.[29] After the end of the 1939-40 season, Smythe allowed Irvin to leave the team as head coach, replacing him with former Leafs captain Hap Day.[29]

The first dynasty (1940s)

In the 1942 Stanley Cup Finals, the Maple Leafs were down three games to none in the best-of-seven series against Detroit. Fourth-line forward Don Metz then galvanized the team, coming from nowhere to score a hat-trick in game four and the game-winner in game five, with the Leafs winning both times.[34]Captain Syl Apps won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy that season, not taking one penalty, and finished his ten-season career with an average of 5 minutes, 36 seconds in penalties a season.[35] Goalie Turk Broda shut out the Wings in game six, and Sweeney Schriner scored two goals in the third period to win the seventh game 3-1, completing the reverse-sweep.[36] The Leafs remain the only team to have successfully performed a reverse-sweep in the Stanley Cup finals.[37]

The Maple Leafs won the 1942 Stanley Cup, performing the only reverse-sweep in Cup Finals history.
The Maple Leafs score against Detroit during the 1942 Cup Finals. Down three games to none in the best-of-seven series, the Leafs won the next four games, performing the only reverse-sweep in the Cup Finals.

Smythe, who reenlisted in the Canadian Army at the outbreak of World War II, was given leave from military duty to view the final game of the 1942 finals. He arrived at the game in full military regalia.[36] Earlier, at the outbreak of war, Smythe arranged for many of his Maple Leafs players and staff to take army training with the Toronto Scottish Regiment. Most notably, the Leafs announced a large portion of their roster had enlisted, including Apps, and Broda,[38] who did not play on the team for several seasons due to their obligations with the Canadian Forces.[39] During this period, the Leafs turned to lesser-known players such as rookie goaltender Frank McCool and defenceman Babe Pratt.[39][40]

The Maple Leafs beat the Red Wings in the 1945 Finals. They won the first three games, with goaltender McCool recording consecutive shutouts. However, in a reverse of the 1942 finals, the Red Wings won the next three games.[39] The Leafs were able to win the series, winning the seventh game in 2 -1 to prevent a complete reversal of the series played three years ago.[39]

After the end of the war, players who had enlisted were beginning to return to their teams.[39] With Apps and Broda regaining their form, the Maple Leafs beat the first-place Canadiens in the 1947 finals.[39] In an effort to bolster their centre depth, the Leafs acquired Cy Thomas and Max Bentley in the following the off-season. With these key additions, the Leafs were able to win a second consecutive Stanley Cup, sweeping the Red Wings in the 1948 finals.[39] With their victory in 1948, the Leafs moved ahead of Montreal as the team having won the most Stanley Cups in League history. It took the Canadiens ten years to reclaim the record. Apps announced his retirement following the 1948 finals, with Ted Kennedy replacing him as the team's captain.[41] Under a new captaincy, the Leafs managed to make it to the 1949 finals, facing the Red Wings, who had finished the season with the best overall record. However, the Leafs went on to win their third consecutive Cup, sweeping the Red Wings in four games. This brought the total of Detroit's play off game losses against the Leafs to eleven.[39] The Red Wings were able to end this losing streak in the following post-season, eliminating Toronto in the 1950 NHL playoffs.[39]

The Barilko Curse (1950s)

Harry Lumley won the Vezina Trophy in 1954.
Harry Lumley won a Vezina Trophy following the 1953-54 season, recording a franchise record 13 shutouts.

The Maple Leafs and Canadiens met again in the 1951 finals, with five consecutive overtime games played in the series.[42] Defenceman Bill Barilko managed to score the series-winning goal in overtime, leaving his defensive position (in spite of coach Joe Primeau's instructions not to) to pick up an errant pass and score.[42] Barilko helped the club secure its fourth Stanley Cup in five years. His glory was short-lived, as he disappeared in a plane crash near Timmins, Ontario, four months later.[42][43] The crash site was not found until a helicopter pilot discovered the plane's wreckage plane about 80 kilometres (50 mi) north of Cochrane, Ontario eleven years later.[44] The Leafs did not win another Cup during the 1950s, with rumours swirling that the team was "cursed," and would not win a cup until Barilko's body was found.[45] The "curse" came to an end after the Leafs' 1962 Stanley Cup victory, which came seven weeks before to the discovery of the wreckage of Barilko's plane.[45]

Their 1951 victory was followed by lacklustre performances in the following seasons. The team finished third in the 1951-52 season, and were eventually swept by the Red Wings in the semi-finals.[42] With the conclusion of the 1952-53 regular season, the Leafs failed to make it to the post-season for the first time since the 1945-46 playoffs.[42] The Leafs' poor performance may be attributed partly to a decline in their sponsored junior system (including the Toronto St. Michael's Majors and the Toronto Marlboros).[42] The junior system was managed by Frank J. Selke until his departure to the Canadiens in 1946. In his absence, the quality of players it produced declined. Many who were called up to the Leafs in the early 1950s were found to be seriously lacking in ability. It was only later in the decade that the Leafs' feeder clubs turned out enough impressive prospects to enable the team to be competitive again.[42]

After a two-year drought from the playoffs, the Maple Leafs clinched a berth after the 1958-59 season. A relatively young team, under Punch Imlach, a new general manager and coach, the team managed to make it to the 1959 Finals, although they lost to the Canadiens in five games.[42] Building on a successful playoff run, the Leafs followed up with a second-place finish in the 1959-60 regular season. Although they advanced to their second straight Cup Finals, the Leafs were again defeated by the Canadiens in four games.[42]

New owners and a new dynasty (1961-1971)

Captaining the team from 1958 to 1969, George Armstrong led the team to four Stanley Cups. Armstrong is the all-time leader in games played with the Maple Leafs.

Beginning in the 1960s, the Leafs became a stronger team, with Johnny Bower as goaltender, and Bob Baun, Carl Brewer, Tim Horton and Allan Stanley serving as the Maple Leafs' defencemen.[46] In an effort to bolster their forward group during the 1960 off-season, Imlach traded Marc Reaume to the Red Wings for Red Kelly. Originally a defenceman, Kelly was asked to make the transition to the role of centre, where he remained for the rest of his career.[46] Kelly helped reinforce a forward group made up of Frank Mahovlich, and team captain George Armstrong. The beginning of the 1960-61 season also saw the debut of rookies Bob Nevin, and Dave Keon. Keon previously played for the St. Michael's Majors (the Maple Leafs junior affiliate), but had impressed Imlach during the Leafs' training camp, and joined the team for the season.[46] Despite these new additions, the Leafs' 1961 playoff run ended in the semifinals against the Red Wings, with Armstrong, Bower, Kelly and others, suffering from injuries.[46]

In November 1961, Smythe sold nearly all of his shares in the club's parent company, Maple Leaf Gardens Limited (MLGL), to a partnership composed of his son Stafford Smythe, and his partners, newspaper baron John Bassett and Toronto Marlboros President Harold Ballard. The sale price was $2.3 million, a handsome return on Smythe's original investment 34 years earlier.[47] Initially, Conn Smythe claimed that he knew nothing about his son's partners and was furious with the arrangement. However, he did not stop the deal because of it.[48] Conn Smythe was given a retiring salary of $15,000 per year for life, an office, secretary, a car with a driver, and seats to home games.[49] Smythe sold his remaining shares in the company, and resigned from the board of directors in March 1966, after a Muhammad Ali boxing match was scheduled for the Gardens. Smythe found Ali's refusal to serve in the United States Army offensive, noting that the Gardens was "no place for those who want to evade conscription in their own country".[50] He had also said that because the Gardens' owners agreed to host the fight they had "put cash ahead of class".[51]

Under the new ownership, Toronto won another three straight Stanley Cups. The team won the 1962 Stanley Cup Finals beating the defending champion Chicago Black Hawks on a goal from Dick Duff in Game 6.[52] During the 1962-63 season, the Leafs finished first in the league for the first time since the 1947-48 season. In the following playoffs, the team won their second Stanley Cup of the decade.[46] The 1963-64 season saw certain members of the team traded. With Imlach seeking to reinvigorate the slumping Leafs, he made a mid-season trade that sent Duff, and Nevin to the Rangers for Andy Bathgate and Don McKenney. The Leafs managed to make the post-season as well as the Cup finals. The 1964 Cup finals were perhaps most notable for Baun's heroic performance. During game six, Baun suffered a fractured ankle and required a stretcher to be taken off the ice. Surprisingly, he returned to play with his ankle frozen, and eventually scored the overtime, game-winning goal against the Red Wings.[53][46] Winning game seven 4-0, with two goals from Bathgate, the Leafs won their third consecutive Stanley Cup.[46]

Johnny Bower was the Leafs' goaltender from 1958 to 1969. He helped the team win four Cups in the 1960s.
Johnny Bower was the Maple Leafs' goaltender from 1958 to 1969. He helped the team win four Cups.

The two seasons after the Maple Leafs' Stanley Cup victories, the team saw several player departures, including Bathgate, and Brewer, as well as several new additions, including Marcel Pronovost, and Terry Sawchuk.[46] During the 1966-67, the team had lost 10 games in a row, sending Imlach to the hospital with a stress-related illness. However, from the time King Clancy took over as the head coach, to Imlach's return, the club was on a 10-game undefeated streak, building momentum before the playoffs.[46] The Leafs made their last Cup finals in 1967. Playing against Montreal, the heavy favourite for the year, the Leafs managed to win, with Bob Pulford scoring the double-overtime winner in game three; Jim Pappin scored the series winner in Game 6.[54] Keon was named the playoff's most valuable player, and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.[55]

The Maple Leafs failed to make the playoffs for two of the decade's last three years. They lost several players to the 1967 expansion drafts, and the team was racked with dissension because of Imlach's authoritative manner, and his attempts to prevent the players from joining the newly formed Players' Association.[46] Imlach's management of the team was also brought into question due to some of his decisions. It was apparent that he was too loyal to aging players who had been with him since 1958.[46] In 1967-68 season, Mahovlich was traded to Detroit in a deal that saw the Leafs acquire Paul Henderson, and Norm Ullman.[56] The Leafs managed to return to the playoffs after the 1968-69 season, only to be swept by the Bruins. Immediately after, Stafford Smythe confronted Imlach and fired him.[57] This act was not without controversy, with some older players, including Horton, declaring that, "if this team doesn't want Imlach, I guess it doesn't want me".[58]

The Maple Leafs completed the 1969-70 season out of the playoffs. With their low finish, the Leafs were able to draft Darryl Sittler at the 1970 NHL Amateur Draft.[59] The Leafs returned to the playoffs after the 1970-71 season with the addition of Sittler, as well as Bernie Parent and Jacques Plante, who were both acquired through trades during the season.[60] They were eliminated in the first round against the Rangers.

Punch Imlach won four Cups as the Leafs' coach in the 1960s. However, his second stint as the club's general manager during the 1979-80 season was controversial; most notably his public dispute with team captain Darryl Sittler.
Punch Imlach won four Cups as the Leafs' coach in the 1960s. However, his second stint as the club's general manager during the 1979-80 season was controversial, as he traded Lanny McDonald, and engaged in a public dispute with team captain Darryl Sittler.

The Ballard years (1971-1990)

A series of events in 1971 made Ballard the primary owner of the Maple Leafs. After a series of disputes between Bassett, Ballard and Stafford Smythe, Bassett sold his stake in the company to them.[61] Shortly afterwards, Smythe died in October 1971. Under the terms of Stafford's will, of which Ballard was an executor, each partner was allowed to buy the other's shares upon their death.[61] Stafford's brother and son tried to keep the shares in the family,[62] but in February 1972 Ballard bought all of Stafford's shares for $7.5 million, valuing the company at $22 million.[63][64][65] Six months later, Ballard was convicted of charges including fraud, and theft of money and goods, and spent a year at Milhaven Penitentiary.[60][61]

By the end of 1971, the World Hockey Association (WHA) began operations as a direct competitor to the NHL. Believing the WHA would not be able to compete against the NHL, Ballard's attitude caused the Maple Leafs to lose key players, including Parent to the upstart league.[60] Undermanned and demoralized, the Leafs finished with the fourth-worst record for the 1972-73 season. They got the fourth overall pick in the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft,[60] and drafted Lanny McDonald. General Manager Jim Gregory also acquired the 10th overall pick from the Philadelphia Flyers, and the 15th overall pick from the Bruins, using them to acquire Bob Neely and Ian Turnbull.[60] In addition to these first round picks, the Leafs also acquired Börje Salming during the 1973 off-season.[66]

Despite acquiring Tiger Williams in the 1974 draft, and Roger Neilson as head coach in the 1977-78 season, the Maple Leafs found themselves eliminated in the playoffs by stronger Flyers or Canadiens teams from 1975 to 1979.[60] Although Neilson was a popular coach with fans and his players, he found himself at odds with Ballard, who fired him late in the 1977-78 season. Nielson was later reinstated after appeals from the players and public.[67] Nielson and Gregory were fired after the 1979 playoffs, with Imlach named as Gregory's replacement.[60]

In the first year of his second stint as general manager, Imlach became embroiled in a dispute with Leafs' captain Darryl Sittler over his attempt to take part in the Showdown series for Hockey Night in Canada.[60][68] In a move to undermine Sittler's influence on the team, Imlach traded McDonald, who was Sittler's friend.[69] By the end of the 1979-80 season, Imlach had traded away nearly half of the roster he had at the beginning of his tenure as general manager.[70] With the situation between Ballard and Sittler worsening, Sittler asked to be traded.[71] Forcing the Leafs' hand, the club's new general manager, Gerry McNamara, traded Sittler to the Flyers on January 20, 1982.[72]Rick Vaive was named the team's captain shortly after Sittler's departure.[70]

The Maple Leafs' management continued in disarray throughout most of the decade, with an inexperienced McNamara named as Imlach's replacement in September 1981.[70] He was followed by Gord Stellick on April 28, 1988, who was replaced by Floyd Smith on August 15, 1989.[70] Coaching was similarly shuffled often after Nielson's departure. Imlach's first choice for coach was his former player Smith, although he did not finish the 1979-80 season after being hospitalized by a car accident on March 14, 1980.[73]Joe Crozier was named the new head coach until January 10, 1981, when he was succeeded by Mike Nykoluk. Nykoluk was head coach until April 2, 1984.[70]Dan Maloney returned as head coach from 1984 to 1986, with John Brophy named head coach from 1986 to 1988. Both coaches had little success during their tenures.[70][74]Doug Carpenter was named the new head coach to begin the 1989-90 season, when the Leafs posted their first season above .500 in the decade.[70]

The team did not have much success during the decade, missing the playoffs entirely in 1982, 1984 and 1985.[70] However, the low finishes allowed the team to draft Wendel Clark first overall at the 1985 NHL Entry Draft.[70] Clark managed to lead the Leafs to the playoffs from 1986 to 1988, as well as the 1990 playoffs, although they were always eliminated in the first round.[70] Ballard died on April 11, 1990.[75]

Resurgence (1990-2004)

At the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, the Leafs acquired Mats Sundin in a trade. Sundin was later named captain prior to the 1997-98 season.
At the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, the Leafs acquired Mats Sundin in a trade with the Quebec Nordiques. Sundin was later named captain before the 1997-98 season.

Don Crump, Don Giffin, and Steve Stavro were named executors of Ballard's estate.[76] Stavro succeeded Ballard as chairman of Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd. and governor of the Maple Leafs.[77]Cliff Fletcher was hired by Giffin to be the new general manager, although this was opposed by Stavro, who told Fletcher that he wanted to install his own man.[78] Fletcher immediately set about building a competitive club by hiring Pat Burns as the new coach, and by making a series of trades and free agent acquisitions, such as acquiring Doug Gilmour and Dave Andreychuk, which turned the Leafs into a contender.[79] Assisted by stellar goaltending from minor league call-up Felix Potvin, the team posted a then-franchise-record 99 points, and the eighth-best overall record in the NHL.

Toronto dispatched the Detroit Red Wings in seven games in the first round, then defeated the St. Louis Blues in another seven games in the Division Finals.[79] Hoping to meet long-time rival Montreal (who was playing in the Wales Conference finals against the New York Islanders) in the Cup finals, the Leafs faced the Los Angeles Kings in the Campbell Conference finals.[79] They led the series 3-2, but dropped game six in Los Angeles. The game was not without controversy, as Wayne Gretzky clipped Gilmour in the face with his stick, but referee Kerry Fraser did not call a penalty, and Gretzky scored the winning goal moments later.[80] The Leafs eventually lost in game seven 5-4.[79]

The Leafs had another strong season in 1993-94, starting the season on a 10-game winning streak, and finishing it with 98 points.[79] The team made it to the conference finals again, only to be eliminated by the Vancouver Canucks in five games.[79] At the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, the Leafs packaged Wendel Clark in a multi-player trade with the Quebec Nordiques that landed them Mats Sundin.[79]

New home and a new millennium

Larry Tanenbaum bought a stake in MLGL in 1996, becoming partners with Stavro. On February 12, 1998, MLGL purchased the Toronto Raptors, a National Basketball Association franchise, and the Air Canada Centre arena the Raptors were building, from Allan Slaight and Scotiabank.[81][82][83] With the acquisition, MLGL was renamed to Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), acting as the parent company of the two teams.[83]

Missing two consecutive playoffs in 1997 and 1998, the Leafs relieved Fletcher as general manager.[79]Curtis Joseph was acquired as the team's starting goalie, while Pat Quinn was hired as the head coach before the 1998-99 season.[79] Realigning the NHL's conferences in 1998, the Leafs were moved from the Western to the Eastern Conference.[82] On February 13, 1999, the Leafs played their final game at the Gardens before moving to their new home at the Air Canada Centre.[84] In the 1999 playoffs, the team advanced to the Conference Finals, but lost in five games to the Buffalo Sabres.[79]

The Maple Leafs move to the Air Canada Centre in 1999.
The Maple Leafs moved to their current home arena, the Air Canada Centre, in February 1999.

In the 1999-2000 season, the Leafs hosted the 50th NHL All-Star Game.[85] By the end of the season, they recorded their first 100-point season and won their first division title in 37 years.[86] In both the 2000 and 2001 playoffs, the Leafs defeated the Ottawa Senators in the first round, and lost to the New Jersey Devils in the second round.[86][87] In 2002 playoffs, the Leafs dispatched the Islanders and the Senators, in the first two rounds, only to lose to the Cinderella-story Carolina Hurricanes in the Conference Finals.[88] The 2002 season was particularly impressive in that injuries sidelined many of the Leafs' better players, but the efforts of depth players, including Alyn McCauley, Gary Roberts and Darcy Tucker, led them to the Conference Finals.[89]

As Joseph opted to become a free agent during the 2002 off-season, the Leafs signed Ed Belfour as the new starting goaltender.[90] Belfour played well during the 2002-03 season and was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy.[91] The Leafs lost to Philadelphia in seven games during the first round of the 2003 playoffs.[92] In 2003, an ownership change occurred in MLSE. Stavro sold his controlling interest in MLSE to the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (OTPP) and resigned his position as chairman in favour of Tanenbaum.[93] Quinn remained as head coach, but was replaced as general manager by John Ferguson Jr..[94]

Before the 2003-04 season, the team held their training camp in Sweden and played in the NHL Challenge against teams from Sweden and Finland.[95] The Leafs went on to enjoy a very successful regular season, leading the NHL at the time of the All-Star Game (with Quinn named head coach of the East's All-Star Team). They finished the season with a franchise-record 103 points.[96] They finished with the fourth-best record in the League, and their highest overall finish in 41 years, achieving a .628 win percentage, their best in 43 years, and third-best in franchise history. In the 2004 playoffs, the Leafs defeated the Senators in the first round of the post-season for the fourth time in five years, with Belfour posting three shutouts (setting the record for the most shutouts in a single playoff series) in seven games, but lost to the Flyers in six games during the second round.[96]

After the lockout (2005-2014)

Following the 2004-05 NHL lockout, the Maple Leafs experienced their longest playoff drought in the club's history. They struggled in 2005-06 and, despite a late-season surge (9-1-2 in their final 12 games), led by third-string goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Toronto was out of playoff contention for the first time since 1998.[97] This marked the first time the team had missed under Quinn, who was later relieved as head coach.[98] Quinn's dismissal was controversial since many of the young players who were key contributors to the Leafs' late-season run had been drafted by him before Ferguson's arrival, while Ferguson's signings (Jason Allison, Belfour, Alexander Khavanov, and Eric Lindros) had suffered season-ending injuries.[98][99]

In the 2009-10 season the Maple Leafs acquired Dion Phaneuf through a trade. Named as the team captain in the following off-season, Phaneuf captained the team until he was traded in 2016.
In the 2009-10 season the Maple Leafs acquired Dion Phaneuf as a part of a seven-player trade. Named team captain in the following off-season, he continued in the role until he was traded to Ottawa in 2016.

Paul Maurice, who previously coached the Maple Leafs' farm team the Toronto Marlies' inaugural season, was named as Quinn's replacement.[100] On June 30, 2006, the Leafs bought out fan-favourite Tie Domi's contract. The team also decided against picking up the option year on goaltender Ed Belfour's contract; he became a free agent.[101] However, despite the coaching change, as well as a shuffle in the roster, the team did not make the playoffs in 2006-07. During the 2007-08 season, John Ferguson, Jr. was fired in January 2008, and replaced by former Leafs' general manager Cliff Fletcher on an interim basis.[102] The Leafs did not qualify for the post-season, marking the first time since 1928 the team had failed to make the playoffs for three consecutive seasons.[103] It was also Sundin's last year with the Leafs, as his contract was due to expire at the end of the season. However, he refused Leaf management's request to waive his no-trade clause in order for the team to rebuild by acquiring prospects and/or draft picks.[104] On May 7, 2008, after the 2007-08 season, the Leafs fired Maurice, as well as assistant coach Randy Ladouceur, naming Ron Wilson as the new head coach, and Tim Hunter and Rob Zettler as assistant coaches.[105]

On November 29, 2008, the Maple Leafs hired Brian Burke as their 13th non-interim, and the first American, general manager in team history. The acquisition ended the second Cliff Fletcher era and settled persistent rumours that Burke was coming to Toronto.[106] On June 26, 2009, Burke made his first appearance as the Leafs GM at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, selecting London Knights forward Nazem Kadri with the seventh overall pick.[107] On September 18, 2009, Burke traded Toronto's first- and second-round 2010, as well as its 2011 first-round picks, to the Boston Bruins in exchange for forward Phil Kessel.[108] On January 31, 2010, the Leafs made another high-profile trade, this time with the Calgary Flames in a seven-player deal that brought defenceman Dion Phaneuf to Toronto.[109] On June 14, during the off-season, the Leafs named Phaneuf captain after two seasons without one following Sundin's departure.[110] On February 18, 2011, the Leafs sent long-time Maple Leaf Tomas Kaberle to the Bruins in exchange for prospect Joe Colborne, Boston's first-round pick in 2011, and a conditional second-round draft choice.[111]

On March 2, 2012, Burke fired Wilson and named Randy Carlyle the new head coach. However, the termination proved to be controversial as Wilson had received a contract extension just two months prior to being let go.[112] Changes at the ownership level also occurred in August 2012, when the OTPP completed the sale of their shares in MLSE to BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications.[113] On January 9, 2013, Burke was fired as general manager, replaced by Dave Nonis.[114] In their first full season under the leadership of Carlyle, Toronto managed to secure a playoff berth in the 2012-13 season (which was shortened again due to another lock-out) for the first time in eight years. However, the Leafs lost in seven games to eventual 2013 Stanley Cup finalist Boston in the first round.[115] Despite the season's success, it was not repeated during the 2013-14 season, as the Leafs failed to make the playoffs.[116]

Brendan Shanahan era (2014-present)

Brendan Shanahan was named the president and an alternate governor of the club in 2014.
Brendan Shanahan was named the president and an alternate governor of the club shortly after the 2013-2014 season ended.

Shortly after the end of the 2013-14 regular season, Brendan Shanahan was named as the president and an alternate governor of the Maple Leafs.[117] On January 6, 2015, the Leafs fired Randy Carlyle as head coach, and assistant coach Peter Horachek took over on an interim basis immediately after the firing.[118] While the Leafs had a winning record before Carlyle's firing, the team eventually collapsed. On February 6, 2015, the Leafs set a new franchise record of 11 consecutive games without a win. At the beginning of February, Shanahan gained the approval of MLSE's Board of Directors to begin a "scorched earth" rebuild of the club.[119] Both Dave Nonis and Horachek were relieved of their duties on April 12, just one day after the season concluded. In addition, the Leafs also fired a number of assistant coaches, including Steve Spott, Rick St. Croix; as well as individuals from the Leafs' player scouting department.[120][121]

On May 20, 2015, Mike Babcock was named as the new head coach, and on June 23, Lou Lamoriello was named the 16th general manager in team history.[122][123] On July 1, 2015, the Leafs packaged Kessel in a multi-player deal to the Pittsburgh Penguins in return for three skaters, including Kasperi Kapanen and a conditional first round pick, and a third round pick. Toronto also retained $1.2 million of Kessel's salary for the remaining seven seasons of his contract.[124] During the following season, on February 9, 2016, the Leafs packaged Phaneuf in another multi-player deal, acquiring four players, as well as a 2017 2nd-round pick from the Ottawa Senators.[125] The team finished last in the NHL for the first time since the 1984-85 season and secured a 20 percent chance at winning the first overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. They were also guaranteed to pick no lower than fourth.[126][127] They subsequently won the draft lottery and used the first overall pick to draft Auston Matthews.[128]

In their second season under Babcock, Toronto secured the final Eastern Conference wildcard spot for the 2017 playoffs. On April 23, 2017, the Maple Leafs were eliminated from the playoffs by the top-seeded Washington Capitals. With a score of 2-1 in the sixth game of the first round, Marcus Johansson scored the winner for the Capitals 6:31 into overtime.[129]

Team culture

Fan base

Tickets to Maple Leafs' home games have long been among the most difficult to acquire even during losing seasons.[130] The Air Canada Centre holds 18,900 seats for Leafs games, with 15,500 reserved for season ticket holders.[131] Because of the demand for season tickets, their sale is limited to the 10,000 people on the waiting list. As of March 2016, Leafs' season tickets saw a renewal rate of 99.5 percent, a rate that would require more than 250 years to clear the existing waiting list.[131] With an average of US$1.9 million per game, the Leafs had the highest average ticket revenue per game in the 2007-08 season.[132][needs update]

Fans gather at Maple Leafs Square during the playoffs.
Fans gather at Maple Leaf Square to watch game two between the Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins during the 2013 NHL playoffs.

Leafs' fans have been noted for their loyalty to the team, in spite of its performance.[133][134] In a study conducted by Fanatics in March 2017, the Leafs and the Minnesota Wild were the only two NHL teams to average arena sellouts, with average win percentages below the league's average.[135] In a 2014 survey by ESPN The Magazine, the Leafs were ranked last out of the 122 professional teams in the Big Four leagues. Teams were graded by stadium experience, ownership, player quality, ticket affordability, championships won and "bang for the buck"; in particular, the Leafs came last in ticket affordability.[136] Conversely, fans of other teams harbour an equally passionate dislike of the team. In November 2002, the Leafs were named by Sports Illustrated hockey writer Michael Farber as the "Most Hated Team in Hockey."[137]

Despite their loyalty, there have been several instances where the fanbase voiced their displeasure with the club. During the 2011-12 season, fans attending the games chanted for the dismissal of head coach Ron Wilson, and later general manager Brian Burke.[138][139] Wilson was let go shortly after the fans' outburst, even though he had been given a contract extension months earlier. Burke alluded to the chants noting "it would be cruel and unusual punishment to let Ron coach another game in the Air Canada Centre".[138] During in the 2014-15 season fans threw Leafs jerseys onto the ice to show their disapproval of the team's poor performances in the past few decades.[140] Similarly, during the late-regular season that overlaps with the opening Major League Baseball (MLB) season, and the success of MLB's Toronto Blue Jays, fans have also been heard sarcastically chanting "Let's go Blue Jays!" as a sign of their shift in priority from an underperforming team to the start of the 2016 Blue Jays season.[141][142][143]

Many Leaf fans live outside the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and throughout Ontario, including the Ottawa Valley, the Niagara Region, and Southwestern Ontario.[144][145][146] As a result, Leafs-Senators games at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, and Leafs-Sabres games at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, host a more neutral attendance, due in part to the Leafs fans in those areas, and to those cities' proximity to the GTA and the relative ease in getting tickets to those teams' games.[147][148][149]

The Leafs are also a popular team in Atlantic Canada. In November 2016, a survey was conducted that found 20 percent of respondents from Atlantic Canada viewed the Leafs as their favourite team; second only to the Montreal Canadiens at 26 percent.[150] The Leafs were found to be the most favoured team in Prince Edward Island, with 24 percent of respondents favouring the Leafs; and the second favourite team in Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador (19 and 24 percent respectively, both trailing respondents who favoured the Canadiens by one percent).[150]


"Montreal-Toronto was the traditional rivalry, Detroit-Toronto was the bitter rivalry."
- Bob Nevin[151]

During the 25 years of the Original Six-era (1942-67), teams played each other 14 times during the regular season, and with only four teams continuing into the playoffs, rivalries were intense. As one of this era's most successful teams, the Maple Leafs established historic rivalries with the two other most successful teams of the time, the Montreal Canadiens and the Detroit Red Wings.[152]

Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings host the Maple Leafs at the 2014 Winter Classic.
The Red Wings hosted the Maple Leafs at the 2014 NHL Winter Classic.

Both teams are Original Six teams, with the clubs' first game played in 1927. From 1929 to 1993, the teams met each other in the 16 playoff series, as well as seven Stanley Cup Finals. Meeting one another for a combined 23 times in the postseason, they have played each other in more postseason series than any other two teams in NHL history with the exception of the Bruins and Canadiens who have played a total of 34 postseason series.[153] The teams are approximately 380 kilometres (240 mi) apart via Ontario Highway 401 -- and their proximity means the number of shared fans (particularly in markets such as Windsor, Ontario) added to the rivalry.[145]

The rivalry between the Detroit Red Wings and the Maple Leafs was at its height during the Original Six-era.[151] The Leafs and Red Wings met in the postseason six times during the 1940s, including four Stanley Cup finals. The Leafs beat the Red Wings in five of their six meetings.[154] In the 1950s, the Leafs and Red Wings met one another in six Stanley Cup semifinals; the Red Wings beat the Leafs in five of their six meetings.[155] From 1961 to 1967, the two teams met one another in three playoff series, including two Stanley Cup finals.[156] Within those 25 years, the Leafs and Red Wings played a total of 15 postseason series including six Cup Finals; the Maple Leafs beat the Red Wings in all six Cup Finals.

The teams have only met three times since the Original Six-era, with their last postseason meeting in 1993.[157] After the Leafs moved to the Eastern Conference in 1998, they faced each other less often, and the rivalry began to stagnate. The rivalry became intradivisional once again in 2013, when Detroit was moved to the Atlantic division of the Eastern Conference as part of a realignment.[158]

Montreal Canadiens

Toronto's rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens has been called hockey's greatest.[159] It is the oldest in the NHL, featuring two clubs that were active during the inaugural NHL season in 1917.[160] In the early 20th century, the rivalry was an embodiment of a larger culture war, English Canada versus French Canada.[161] The Canadiens have won 24 Stanley Cups, while the Maple Leafs have won 13, ranking them first and second for most Cup wins.[160]

The Hockey Knights in Canada are two murals at College subway station, the nearest station to Maple Leaf Gardens. A mural of Toronto's rival, the Montreal Canadiens is on the northbound side of the station, while another mural of the Maple Leafs stands directly across from it on southbound side of the station.

The height of the rivalry was during the 1960s, when the Canadiens and Leafs combined to win all but one Cup. The two clubs had 15 postseason meetings. However, failing to meet each other in the playoffs since 1979, the rivalry has waned.[160] It also suffered when Montreal and Toronto were placed in opposite conferences in 1981, with the Leafs in the Clarence Campbell/Western Conference and the Canadiens in the Prince of Wales/Eastern Conference. In 1998, the Leafs were moved into the Eastern Conference's Northeast Division.[162] This has served to rekindle the rivalry, although the two teams have yet to appear in a playoff series against each other.

The rivalry's cultural imprint may be seen in literature and art. The rivalry from the perspective of the Canadiens fan is perhaps most famously captured in the popular Canadian short story "The Hockey Sweater" by Roch Carrier. Originally published in French as "Une abominable feuille d'érable sur la glace" ("An abominable maple leaf on the ice"), it referred to the Maple Leafs sweater a mother forced her son to wear.[161] The son is presumably based on Carrier himself when he was young.[163] This rivalry is also evident in Toronto's College subway station on Line 1, which displays murals depicting the two teams, one on each platform.[164]

Ottawa Senators

The modern Ottawa Senators entered the NHL in 1992, but the rivalry between the two teams did not begin to emerge until the late 1990s. From 1992 to 1998, Ottawa and Toronto played in different conferences (Eastern and Western respectively), which meant they rarely played each other. However, before the 1998-99 season, the conferences and divisions were realigned, with Toronto moved to the Eastern Conference's Northeast Division with Ottawa.[162] From 2000 to 2004, the teams played four post-season series; the Leafs won all four playoff series.[165] Due in part to the number Leafs fans living in the Ottawa Valley, and in part to Ottawa's proximity to Toronto, Leafs-Senators games at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa hold a more neutral audience.[166][147][167]

Team information


Foster Hewitt was the Maple Leafs' first play-by-play announcer on the radio from 1927 to 1968
Foster Hewitt was the Maple Leafs' first play-by-play announcer on the radio from 1927 to 1968

As a result of both Bell Canada and Rogers Communications having an ownership stake in MLSE, Maple Leafs broadcasts are split between these two media companies. Due to this arrangement, regional TV broadcasts are split between Rogers' Sportsnet Ontario and Bell's TSN4.[4][168] Colour commentary for Bell's television broadcasts is performed by Jamie McLennan and Ray Ferraro, while play-by-play is provided by Chris Cuthbert and Gord Miller. Colour commentary for Rogers' television broadcasts is performed by Greg Millen, while play-by-play is provided by Paul Romanuk. MLSE also operates a regional specialty channel, the Leafs Nation Network.[169] The channel broadcasts programming related to the Maple Leafs, and the Toronto Marlies, its American Hockey League affiliate.

Like the Maple Leafs television broadcasts, radio broadcasts are split evenly between Rogers' CJCL (Sportsnet 590, The Fan) and Bell's CHUM (TSN Radio 1050).[4] Both Bell and Rogers' radio broadcasts have their colour commentary provided by Jim Ralph, with play-by-play provided by Joe Bowen. Foster Hewitt was the Leafs' first play-by-play broadcaster, providing radio play-by-play from 1927 to 1978. In addition, he provided play-by-play for television from 1952 to 1958, and colour commentary from 1958 to 1961.[170] Originally aired over CFCA, Hewitt's broadcast was picked up by the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (the CRBC) in 1933, moving to CBC Radio (the CRBC's successor) three years later.[171] As the show was aired on Canadian national radio, Hewitt became famous for the phrase "He shoots, he scores!" as well as his sign-on at the beginning of each broadcast, "Hello, Canada, and hockey fans in the United States and Newfoundland."[172]

Home arenas and practice facilities

Home arenas
Arena Tenure
Arena Gardens 1917-1931
Maple Leaf Gardens 1931-1999
Air Canada Centre 1999-present

The team's first home was the Arena Gardens, later known as the Mutual Street Arena. From 1912 until 1931, the Arena was ice hockey's premier site in Toronto.[173] The Arena Gardens was the third arena in Canada to feature a mechanically-frozen, or artificial, ice surface, and for 11 years was the only such facility in Eastern Canada.[174] The Arena was demolished in 1989, with most of the site converted to residential developments.[175] In 2011, parts of the site were made into a city park, known as Arena Gardens.[176]

Maple Leaf Gardens was the home arena for the Maple Leafs from 1931 to 1999.
Opening in 1931, Maple Leaf Gardens was the home arena for the Maple Leafs from 1931 to 1999.

In 1931, over a six-month period, Conn Smythe built Maple Leaf Gardens on the northwest corner of Carlton Street and Church Street, at a cost of C$1.5 million (C$23.5 million in 2018).[177] The arena soon acquired nicknames including the "Carlton Street Cashbox," and the "Maple Leaf Mint," since the team's games were constantly sold out.[178] The Maple Leafs won 11 Stanley Cups while playing at the Gardens. The first annual NHL All-Star Game was also held at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1947.[179] The Gardens opened on November 12, 1931, with the Maple Leafs losing 2-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks.[29] On February 13, 1999, the Maple Leafs played their last game at the Gardens, suffering a 6-2 loss to the Blackhawks.[84] The building is presently used as a multi-purpose facility, with a Loblaws grocery store occupying retail space on the lower floors, and an athletics arena for Ryerson University, occupying another level.[180][181]

The Maple Leafs presently use two facilities in the City of Toronto. The club moved from the Gardens on February 20, 1999, to their current home arena, the Air Canada Centre, a multi-purpose indoor entertainment arena on Bay Street in Downtown Toronto.[182] The arena is owned by the Maple Leafs' parent company MLSE, and is shared with the NBA's Toronto Raptors (another MLSE subsidiary), as well as the National Lacrosse League's Toronto Rock.[183] In addition to the main arena, the Maple Leafs also operate a practice facility at the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence. Opened in 2009 by the Lakeshore Lions Club, the arena adopted the name of the Lions' old arena, the Lakeshore Lions Arena. Facing financial difficulties, in September 2011, the City of Toronto took over ownership of the arena from the Lions' Club. It is now a City of Toronto controlled Corporation.[184][185] Renamed the Mastercard Centre, the facility has three NHL rinks and one Olympic-sized rink.[185]

Logo, uniform and mascot

Wordmark for the Toronto Maple Leafs (2016-present).
Former Kabel bold-font wordmark used by the Toronto Maple Leafs (1970-2016).

The team is represented through a number of images and symbols, including the maple leaf logo found on the club's uniform, and their mascot. The Maple Leafs' jersey has a long history and is one of the best-selling NHL jerseys among fans.[186] Throughout franchise history, Toronto's uniform has had four major incarnations and many minor alterations. The club's first uniforms were blue and featured the letter T.[187] The first major alteration came in 1919, when the club was renamed the St. Patricks. The uniforms were green with "Toronto St. Pats" on the logo, lettered in green either on a white "pill" shape or stripes.[2][188]

When the club was renamed the Maple Leafs in the 1927-28 season, the logo was changed, and the team reverted to blue uniforms.[27] The logo was a 48-point maple leaf with the words lettered in white. The home jersey was blue with alternating thin-thick stripes on the arms, legs and shoulders. The road uniform was white with three stripes on the chest and back, waist and legs.[189] For 1933-34, the alternating thin-thick stripes were replaced with stripes of equal thickness. This remained the basic design for the next 40 years.[189] In 1937, veins were added to the leaf and "Toronto" curved downwards at the ends instead of upwards.[190] In 1942, the 35-point leaf was introduced. In 1946, the logo added trimming to the Leaf with a white or blue border, while "C" for captain and "A" for alternate captain first appeared on the sweaters. In 1947, the "Toronto Maple Leafs" lettering was in red for a short time. In 1958, a six-eyelet lace and tie was added to the neck and a blue shoulder yoke was added. In 1961, player numbers were added on the sleeves.[191]

The fourth major change came in the 1966-67 season, when the logo was changed to an 11-point leaf, similar to the leaf on the then-new flag of Canada to commemorate the Canadian Centennial.[191] Before the 1970-71 season, the Leafs adopted a new 11-point leaf logo, with a Kabel bold-font "Toronto" going straight across, running parallel to the other words. Other changes to the sweater removed the arm stripes, extended the yoke to the end of the sleeves, added a solid stripe on the waist, three stripes on the stockings and a miniature Leaf crest on the shoulders.[192] In 1973, the jersey's neck was a lace tie-down design, before the V-neck returned in 1976. In 1977, player names were added to the away jerseys and in 1979 to the home jerseys, but not until after the Leafs were fined by the NHL for refusing to comply with a new rule.[192]

With the NHL's 75th anniversary season (1991-92 season), the Leafs wore "Original Six" style uniforms similar to the designs used in the 1940s.[192] Because of the fan reaction to the previous season's classic uniforms, the first changes to the Leaf uniform in over twenty years were made. Two stripes on the arms and waist were added. A "TML" logo was added to the shoulder. The older veined-style Leaf logo was reused as a shoulder crest on the sweater from 1992 to 2000, and again from 2008 to 2016.[192] When the Reebok Edge uniform system was introduced in the 2007-08 season, the tail stripes were absent from the change, but returned three years later. In addition, the veined leaf logo returned to the uniforms.[186][193] For the 2014 NHL Winter Classic the Leafs wore a sweater inspired by their earlier uniforms in the 1930s.[193]

On February 2, 2016, the team unveiled a new logo for the 2016-17 season in honour of its centennial, dropping the use of the Kabel-style font lettering used from 1970; it returns the logo to a form inspired by the earlier designs, with 31 points to allude to the 1931 opening of Maple Leaf Gardens, and 17 veins a reference to its establishment in 1917. 13 of the veins are positioned along the top part in honour of its 13 Stanley Cup victories. The logo was subsequently accompanied by a new uniform design that was unveiled during the 2016 NHL Entry Draft on June 24, 2016.[194][195][196]

The Maple Leafs' mascot is Carlton the Bear, an anthropomorphic polar bear whose name and number (#60) comes from the location of Maple Leaf Gardens at 60 Carlton Street, where the Leafs played throughout much of their history.[197]

Logo for the Arenas (1917-1918). 
Logo for the St. Patricks (1919-1922). 
Logo for the St. Patricks (1922-1925). 
Logo for the Maple Leafs (1927). 
Logo for the Maple Leafs (1938-1967). Alternate logo for the Maple Leafs (1992-2000; 2008-2016). 


The Maple Leafs is one of six professional sports teams owned by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE). Initially the ownership of the club was granted to the Arena Gardens of Toronto, Limited; an ownership group fronted by Henry Pellatt, that owned and managed Arena Gardens.[198] After the League's inaugural season, Arena Gardens petitioned the League for a permanent franchise, with team manager Charles Querrie, and the Arena Gardens treasurer Hubert Vearncombe as its owners.[199] Facing financial issues stemming from litigations from Eddie Livingstone, Querrie brokered the sale of the Arena Garden's share to the owners of the amateur St. Patricks Hockey Club.[200][201] Maintaining his shares in the club, Querrie fronted the new ownership group until 1927, when the club was put up for sale. Toronto Varsity Blues coach Conn Smythe put together an ownership group and purchased the franchise for $160,000.[21] In 1929, Smythe decided, in the midst of the Great Depression, that the Maple Leafs needed a new arena.[28][29] To finance it, Smythe launched Maple Leaf Gardens Limited, a publicly traded management company to own both the Maple Leafs and the new arena, which was named Maple Leaf Gardens. Smythe transferred his ownership of the Leafs to the company in exchange for shares in MLGL, and sold shares in the holding company to the public to help fund construction of the arena.[202]

Conn Smythe was the principal owner of the Maple Leafs from 1927 to 1961.
Conn Smythe was the principal owner of the Maple Leafs from 1927 to 1931, and from 1947 to 1961.

Although Smythe was the face of MLGL from its founding, he did not gain principal ownership of the company until 1947.[203][204][205] Smythe remained the principal owner of the company until 1961, when he sold 90 percent of his shares to an ownership group consisting of Harold Ballard, John Bassett, and Stafford Smythe. Ballard gained principal ownership of the company in February 1972, shortly following the death of Stafford Smythe.[65] Ballard was the principal owner of MLGL until his death in 1990. The company remained a publicly traded company until 1998, when an ownership group fronted by Steve Stavro privatized the company by acquiring more than the 90 percent of stock necessary to force objecting shareholders out.[206][207]

The present ownership structure emerged in 2012, after the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (the company's former principal owner) announced the sale of its 75 percent stake in MLSE to a partnership between Bell Canada and Rogers Communications, in a deal valued at $1.32 billion.[208] As part of the sale, two numbered companies were created to jointly hold stock. This ownership structure ensures that, at the shareholder level, Rogers and Bell vote their overall 75 percent interest in the company together and thus decisions on the management of the company must be made by consensus between the two.[209] The remaining 25 percent is owned by Larry Tanenbaum, who is also the chairman of MLSE.[208] Bell's pension fund is involved in Bell's ownership stake, at least in part, intended to ensure they can retain its existing 18 percent interest in the Montreal Canadiens, as NHL rules prevent any shareholder that owns more than 30 percent of a team from holding an ownership position in any other team.[210]

While initially primarily a hockey company, with ownership stakes in a number of junior hockey clubs including the Toronto Marlboros of the Ontario Hockey Association, the company later branched out to own the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL from the late 1970s to late 1980s.[211] On February 12, 1998, MLGL purchased the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association (NBA), who were constructing the Air Canada Centre. After the Raptors purchase, MLGL changed names to MLSE.[83] The company's portfolio has since expanded to include the Toronto FC of Major League Soccer, the Toronto Marlies of the AHL, and a 37.5 percent stake in Maple Leaf Square.[212]

Season-by-season record

Season GP W Losses OTL Pts GF GA Finish Playoffs
2012-13 48 26 17 5 57 145 133 3rd, Northeast Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 3-4 (Bruins)
2013-14 82 38 36 8 84 231 256 6th, Atlantic Did not qualify
2014-15 82 30 44 8 68 211 262 7th, Atlantic Did not qualify
2015-16 82 29 42 11 69 198 246 8th, Atlantic Did not qualify
2016-17 82 40 27 15 95 251 242 4th, Atlantic Lost in First Round, 2-4 (Capitals)

Players and personnel

Current roster

Updated January 15, 2018[213][214]

# Nat Player Pos S/G Age Acquired Birthplace
31 Denmark Andersen, FrederikFrederik Andersen G L 28 2016 Herning, Denmark
55 Sweden Borgman, AndreasAndreas Borgman D L 22 2017 Stockholm, Sweden
42 Canada Bozak, TylerTyler Bozak (A) C R 31 2009 Regina, Saskatchewan
28 Canada Brown, ConnorConnor Brown RW R 24 2012 Toronto, Ontario
8 United States Carrick, ConnorConnor Carrick D R 23 2016 Orland Park, Illinois
23 Canada Dermott, TravisTravis Dermott D L 21 2015 Newmarket, Ontario
51 United States Gardiner, JakeJake Gardiner D L 27 2011 Minneapolis, Minnesota
33 Canada Gauthier, FrederikFrederik Gauthier C L 22 2013 Laval, Quebec
2 United States Hainsey, RonRon Hainsey D L 36 2017 Bolton, Connecticut
11 Canada Hyman, ZachZach Hyman C R 25 2015 Toronto, Ontario
43 Canada Kadri, NazemNazem Kadri C L 27 2009 London, Ontario
47 Finland Komarov, LeoLeo Komarov (A) C L 31 2012 Narva, Soviet Union
32 Canada Leivo, JoshJosh Leivo LW R 24 2011 Innisfil, Ontario
12 Canada Marleau, PatrickPatrick Marleau LW L 38 2017 Swift Current, Saskatchewan
16 Canada Marner, MitchellMitchell Marner RW R 20 2015 Markham, Ontario
15 Canada Martin, MattMatt Martin LW L 28 2016 Windsor, Ontario
34 United States Matthews, AustonAuston Matthews C L 20 2016 San Ramon, California
35 Canada McElhinney, CurtisCurtis McElhinney G L 34 2017 London, Ontario
20 Canada Moore, DominicDominic Moore C L 37 2017 Thornhill, Ontario
29 Sweden Nylander, WilliamWilliam Nylander C R 21 2014 Calgary, Alberta
46 Czech Republic Polak, RomanRoman Polak D R 31 2016 Ostrava, Czechoslovakia
44 Canada Rielly, MorganMorgan Rielly (A) D L 23 2012 West Vancouver, British Columbia
26 Russia Soshnikov, NikitaNikita Soshnikov Injured Reserve RW L 24 2015 Nizhny Tagil, Russia
25 United States van Riemsdyk, JamesJames van Riemsdyk LW L 28 2012 Middletown Township, New Jersey
22 Russia Zaitsev, NikitaNikita Zaitsev Injured Reserve D R 26 2016 Moscow, Soviet Union

Team captains

There have been twenty-one team captains throughout the team's history.[215]Ken Randall served as the team's first captain in the inaugural 1917-18 NHL season.[215] The first captain to have served the position for multiple seasons was Reg Noble, serving as captain from 1920 to 1924.[215]John Ross Roach was the first goaltender to be named captain in the NHL, and the only goaltender to serve as the Leafs' captain.[216][215] He was one of only six goalies in NHL history to have been officially recognized as the team captain. Named captain in 1956, Jimmy Thomson was the first non-Ontarian born captain in Maple Leaf history. In 1997, Mats Sundin became the first non-Canadian to captain the Maple Leafs. His tenure as captain holds the distinction as the longest captaincy for a non-North American born player in NHL history.[217] George Armstrong, captain from 1958 through 1969, was the longest serving captain in the team's history. The last player named to the position was Dion Phaneuf on June 14, 2010. No replacement has been named since he was traded on February 9, 2016.[110][125]

Three captains of the Maple Leafs have held the position at different points in their career. Syl Apps' first tenure as the captain began from 1940 to 1943, before he stepped down and left the club to enlist in the Canadian Army. Bob Davidson served as the Maple Leafs captain until Apps' return from the Army in 1945, when he resumed his captaincy until 1948.[218] Ted Kennedy's first tenure as captain was from 1948 to 1955. He announced his retirement from the sport at the end of the 1954-55 season, with Sid Smith succeeding him as captain.[215] Although Kennedy missed the entire 1955-56 season, he came out of retirement to play the second half of the 1956-57 season. During that half season, Kennedy served his second tenure as the Maple Leafs' captain.[219] Darryl Sittler was the player to have been named the team's captain twice. As a result of a dispute between Sittler and the Maple Leafs' general manager Punch Imlach, Sittler relinquished the captaincy on December 29, 1979. The dispute was resolved in the following off-season, after a heart attack hospitalized Imlach. Sittler arranged talks with Ballard to resolve the issue, eventually resuming his captaincy on September 24, 1980.[220] No replacement captain was named during the interim period.

Syl Apps was the team captain from 1940 to 1943 and again from 1945 to 1948.
Syl Apps led the team to three Stanley Cups as captain from 1940 to 1943 and again from 1945 to 1948. From 1943 to 1945 Apps was serving with the Canadian Army.
Dick Carroll was the first coach of the club (1917-19)
Dick Carroll was the first coach for the club. Coach from 1917 to 1919, he won one Stanley Cup with the Arenas.

Head coaches

The Maple Leafs have had 39 head coaches (including four interim coaches).[215] Ten head coaches spent their entire head coaching career with the club. The franchise's first head coach was Dick Carroll, who coached the team for two seasons.[215] Punch Imlach coached the most games of any Leafs' head coach with 750 games, and has the most all-time points with the Maple Leafs, with 865.[215] He is followed by Pat Quinn, who coached 574 games, with 678 points all-time with the Maple Leafs.[215] Quinn also has the most points in a season of any Maple Leafs' coach, with 103 in the 2002-03 season.[96] Five Maple Leafs' coaches have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as players, while four others were inducted as builders. Pat Burns is the only Leafs' head coach to win a Jack Adams Award with the team.[221] Both Mike Rodden and Dick Duff, have the fewest points with the Maple Leafs, with 0. Both were interim coaches who coached only two games each in 1927 and 1980 respectively, losing both games.[215] A number of coaches have served as the Leafs head coach on multiple occasions. King Clancy was named the head coach on three separate occasions while Charles Querrie and Punch Imlach served the position on two occasions.[215] Mike Babcock is the current head coach. He was named as coach on May 20, 2015, signing an eight-year $50-million contract, becoming the highest paid NHL coach in history.[222]

Draft picks

The Maple Leafs selected Walt McKechnie, a centre from the London Nationals with their first pick, sixth overall in the 1963 NHL Amateur Draft.[223] Two Maple Leafs captains were obtained through the draft, Darryl Sittler in the 1970 draft; as well as Wendel Clark in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft. The Maple Leafs have had 11 top-five draft picks since the draft's inception in 1963. Two of these picks were the first overall draft pick; Clark in the 1985 draft, and Auston Matthews in the 2016 draft.[224]Timothy Liljegren was the most recent player selected by the Maple Leafs in the first round, using the seventeenth overall pick at the 2017 draft.[225]

Team and league honours

Retired numbers
No. Player Position Tenure Date of honour[226] Date of retirement[227]
1 Turk Broda G 1935-1943, 1946-1951[Notes 1] March 11, 1995 October 15, 2016
1 Johnny Bower G 1958-1969 March 11, 1995 October 15, 2016
4 Hap Day D 1924-1937 October 4, 2006 October 15, 2016
4 Red Kelly C 1960-1967 October 4, 2006 October 15, 2016
5 Bill Barilko D 1945-1951[Notes 1] Not honoured October 17, 1992[228]
6 Ace Bailey RW 1926-1933[Notes 1] Not honoured February 14, 1934
7 King Clancy D 1930-1937 November 21, 1995 October 15, 2016
7 Tim Horton D 1949-1970 November 21, 1995 October 15, 2016
9 Charlie Conacher RW 1929-1938 February 28, 1998 October 15, 2016
9 Ted Kennedy C 1942-1955, 1956-1957[Notes 1] October 3, 1993 October 15, 2016
10 Syl Apps C 1936-1943, 1945-1948[Notes 1] October 3, 1993 October 15, 2016
10 George Armstrong RW 1949-1971[Notes 1] February 28, 1998 October 15, 2016
13 Mats Sundin C 1994-2008 February 11, 2012 October 15, 2016
14 Dave Keon C 1960-1975 Not honoured October 15, 2016
17 Wendel Clark LW 1985-1994, 1996-1998, 2000 November 22, 2008 October 15, 2016
21 Borje Salming D 1973-1989 October 4, 2006 October 15, 2016
27 Frank Mahovlich LW 1956-1968 October 3, 2001 October 15, 2016
27 Darryl Sittler C 1970-1982 February 8, 2003 October 15, 2016
93 Doug Gilmour C 1992-1997 January 31, 2009 October 15, 2016
Player elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame
Number retired for multiple players
Number was not honoured before being retired

Retired numbers

The Maple Leafs have retired the numbers of 19 players (as some players used the same number, only 13 numbers have been retired).[227] Between October 17, 1992, and October 15, 2016, the Maple Leafs took a unique approach to retired numbers. Whereas players who suffered a career ending injury had their numbers retired, "great" players had their number "honoured".[228] This meant that, although it hung from the rafters, the number was still in team circulation, and could still be worn by other players.

During this period, only two players met the criteria, the first being number 6, worn by Ace Bailey and retired on February 14, 1934; and Bill Barilko's number 5, retired on October 17, 1992.[228] The retirement of Bailey's number holds the distinction of being the first of its kind in professional sports.[229][230] It was briefly taken out of retirement before to the 1968-69 season, after he asked that Ron Ellis be allowed to wear his number.[231] Bailey's number was re-retired after Ellis ended his career.

The first players to have their numbers honoured were Syl Apps and Ted Kennedy, on October 3, 1993.[228] Mats Sundin was the last player to have his number honoured on February 11, 2012.[232] On October 15, 2016, before the home opening game of the team's centenary season, the Maple Leafs announced they had changed their philosophy on retiring numbers, and that the numbers of those 16 honoured players would now be retired, in addition to the retirement of Dave Keon's number.[227]

As well as honouring and retiring the numbers, the club also commissioned statues of former Maple Leafs. The group of statues, known as Legends Row, is a 9.2 metres (30 ft) granite hockey bench with statues of former club players. Unveiled in September 2014, it is located outside Gate 5 of the Air Canada Centre, at Maple Leaf Square.[233] As of October 2017, statues have been made of 14 players with retired numbers.[234]

In addition to the thirteen numbers retired by the Maple Leafs, the number 99 is also retired from use in the organization. At the 2000 NHL All-Star Game hosted in Toronto, the NHL announced the League-wide retirement of Wayne Gretzky's number 99, retiring it from use throughout all its member teams, including the Maple Leafs.[235]

Hall of Famers

The Toronto Maple Leafs acknowledges an affiliation with 75 inductees of the Hockey Hall of Fame. The 75 inductees include 62 former players as well as 13 builders of the sport. The 13 individuals recognized as builders of the sport include former Maple Leafs broadcasters, executives, head coaches, and other personnel relating to the club's operations. Inducted in 2017, Dave Andreychuk was the latest Maple Leafs player to be inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame.[236]

Franchise career leaders

These are the top franchise leaders in regular season points, goals, assists, points per game, games played, and goaltending wins as of the end of the 2015-16 season.[239]

  •  *  - current Maple Leafs player
Tim Horton sitting on the bench
Tim Horton played the second-most games with the Maple Leafs, and the most amongst defencemen.
Player Seasons GP TOI W L T OT GA GAA SA SV% SO
Turk Broda 1935-1943, 1946-1951 629 38,167 302 224 101 -- 1,609 2.53 -- -- 62
Johnny Bower 1945-1969 475 27,396 219 160 79 -- 1,139 2.49 14,607+ .922+ 32
Felix Potvin 1991-1999 369 21,641 160 149 49 -- 1,026 2.87 11,133 .908 12
Curtis Joseph 1998-2002 270 15,808 138 97 28 -- 656 2.49 7,257 .910 17
Mike Palmateer 1976-1984 296 16,868 129 112 41 -- 964 3.43 8,886 .849 15
Harry Lumley 1952-1956 267 16,007 103 106 58 -- 586 2.20 1,696+ .907+ 34
Lorne Chabot 1928-1933 215 13,126 103 79 31 -- 475 2.17 -- -- 31
John Ross Roach 1921-1928 222 13,674 98 107 17 -- 639 2.80 -- -- 13
Ed Belfour 2002-2006 170 10,079 93 61 11 4 422 2.51 4,775 .912 17
James Reimer 2010-2016 207 11,176 85 76 -- 23 528 2.83 6,118 .914 11
+ Shots and save percentage data from 1955-56 season onwards

In popular culture

References to the Maple Leafs may be found in Canadian movies, television shows, on radio, and in literature. In 1946, the comedy team of Wayne and Shuster performed a sketch on their CBC radio program in which the imaginary hockey team, the Mimico Mice, competed against the Leafs. Foster Hewitt provided the play-by-play of the game, with real player names used for the Leafs and Wayne and Shuster voiced the entire Mimico team.[240] In 1992, Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip released the song "Fifty Mission Cap," which memorialized Bill Barilko.[241]

References to the Leafs in literature includes Foster Hewitt juvenile hockey novel, He Shoots, he scores!. Published in 1949, it featured the members of the team, including actual managers and players.[242] In 1963, Scott Young wrote A Boy at the Leafs' Camp, a children's book giving a behind-the-scenes insight into the sport.[243] In 1971, Young and George Robertson co-wrote an adult hockey-romance novel, Face-off, about the experiences of a star rookie player, Billy Duke, with the Leafs.[244] The novel became a movie in 1971 with Art Hindle as Billy Duke. The film featured many of the players. Jim McKenny, body-doubled for Hindle for the on-ice action scenes because of his resemblance to Hindle. Owner Ballard had a part as the team doctor.[245] In 1979, Roch Carrier wrote the short story The Hockey Sweater about a boy whose mother forces him to wear the hated the Maple Leafs sweater he has been given as a present, instead of a sweater for his beloved Montreal Canadiens. In 1980, the story was turned into an animated short by the National Film Board of Canada.[246]

References to the Leafs may also be found in film. In 1993, the film Gross Misconduct was about the life of former Maple Leaf Brian Spencer.[247] Comedian Mike Myers, a fan, often included references and even an entire plot line in his films. In Austin Powers in Goldmember, the ticker below the news item on a television reads, "Maple Leafs win Stanley Cup." In another scene, the character Mini-Me wears a Maple Leafs sweater.[248] Myers played a guru hired to help the Leafs' star player in the 2008 movie The Love Guru.[249] At the beginning of the 2010 spy film Fair Game, CIA agent Valerie Plame is being questioned by a suspicious weapons trafficker. He asks her if she is an American, and after responding that she is Canadian, he asks her about the Leafs. She replies that she is not a fan.[250]

Minor league affiliates

The Toron.
The Toronto Marlboros were the Leafs Junior A affiliate from 1927 to 1967. They shared a common owner from 1927 to 1989.
The current Toronto Marlies logo was used since 2016.
The Toronto Marlies are the current AHL farm team of the Maple Leafs.



See also


  • Holzman, Morey; Nieforth, Joseph (2002). Deceptions and Doublecross: How the NHL Conquered Hockey. Dundurn Press. ISBN 1-5500-2413-2. 
  • LeafsPR (2016). McNaughton, Scott; Meagher, Ian; Lund, Chris; Keogh, Steve, eds. Toronto Maple Leafs Media Guide 2016-17. Toronto Maple Leafs. 
  • Leonetti, Michael (2014). 100 Things Maple Leafs Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. Triumph Books. ISBN 1-6007-8935-8. 
  • Obodiac, Stan (1976). The First 50 Years. McClelland and Stewart Limited. ISBN 0-7710-9064-1. 
  • Shea, Kevin; Wilson, Jason (2016). The Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Club: The Official Centennial Publication. McClelland & Stewart. ISBN 0-7710-7929-X. 
  • Smythe, Conn; Young, Scott (1981). Conn Smythe: If you can't beat 'em in the alley. Toronto, Ontario: McClelland and Stewart. ISBN 0-7710-9078-1. 


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