Toronto Maple Leafs

Wed, 18 Mar 2009 08:15

History of Toronto Maple Leafs

Information about the NHL team Toronto Maple Leafs.

Probably having one of the most tumultuous starts in the history of professional ice hockey, the Toronto Maple Leafs nonetheless have had it good. Scoring many championships and acquiring the Stanley Cup for a couple or more times, other ice hockey teams have certainly had enough to contend with when they went up against the Maple Leafs in different bouts throughout the years. What started out as an ice hockey team for lease eventually became one of the great contenders in the NHL up to the present.

Toronto Maple Leafs: nucleus years

The history of the Toronto Maple Leafs is shrouded in controversy over then Toronto Blueshirts owner Eddie Livingstone, also a member of the National Hockey Association or NHA. In 1917, the owners of the other teams decided to put up the National Hockey League, excluding Livingstone and his team from the new league. However, the original four teams that put up the NHL were reduced, as the Quebec Bulldogs chose to sit out while the Montreal Wanderers had to pull out as their home staium burned down. While Livingstone settled his dispute, his players from the Blueshirts were rented out to the Toronto Arena Company in order for the city to have its representation in the league. A formal name was yet to be settled for these rental team, and the media and fans referred to them still as the Blueshirts or the Torontos. However, ticket sales went down when people learned that a team from Toronto wasn't much of a success, as only 700 people showed up, most of whom were guests of team management. Eventually, when ownership was formalized under the Arena Company, the team went down in history as the Toronto Arenas, who snatched the first NHL's Stanley Cup in season 1917-18.

Toronto Maple Leafs: asking for St. Patrick's blessing

After their successful bid at the first NHL game for the Stanley Cup, the Arenas however, bowed out of the following season. Despite having clinched the much-coveted title, the Arenas lost on a dire factor – ticket sales. However, in the following season of 1919-20, the team re-emerged with a new name and new owners. From being known as the Toronto Arenas, the team emerged as the Toronto St. Patricks or St. Pats, in an attempt to capitalize on the large Irish population in the country. The St. Pats had the advantage of a revitalized team, thanks to the force brought in by Babe Dye, with nine goals in five games, an unbeaten record up to this day. The St. Pats were managed by Charlie Querrie and coached by George Donoughue when the team made a surprise attack on the Ottawa Senators in the NHL finals. For the Stanley Cup in season 1921-22, the Toronto St. Patricks successfully crushed the champions of the West Coast in their bid for the much-coveted trophy. However, in the following seasons, the Saint Pats failed to make championships and only maintained fairly high spots in the league. A great base of players was eventually built up by the St. Pats as they took in Clarence “Hap” Day from the collegiate level and Irvine “Ace” Bailey by season 1926-27.

Toronto Maple Leafs: name evolution and ownership issues

In 1927, a threat to transfer to Philadelphia was thwarted by new York Rangers founder Conn Smythe when he bought the Toronto St. Patricks. Smith then went on to further revitalize the team, giving them a new name yet again. As season 1927-28 arrived, the St. Pats were then known as the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs also sported the traditional blue and white colors of the city on their jerseys. The Maple Leafs were then a tough team to contend with, as star players Joe Primeau, Red Horner, and goalie Lorne Chabot joined the group when the Maple Leafs rejoined the NHL in season 1924-25. Season 1929-30 saw Charlie “Big Bomber” Conacher and Harvey “Busher” Jackson  enter the Leafs' team. However, despite the addition of so many promising players, the Maple Leafs didn't make it to the playoffs. Maple Leafs owner Smythe then traded two players and $35,000 for the Ottawa Sens' King Clancy, and by 1931 he had his dream team on the ice. Ticket sales were finally rising and Toronto seemed to be the best team to wager one's bets on. Before the Canadiens became the team with the most number of Stanley Cup wins, the Maple Leafs were the ones who tended to the trophy for many times at first.

Toronto Maple Leafs: 1930s-1950s

The 1930s saw much fanfare for the much-celebrated team. Team members were as much as raucous as their fans and even became famous for their off-ice pranks. However, with the growing popularity and strength of the Maple Leafs, owner Conn Smythe realized he needed a new stadium that can play up to the the team's needs. The Maple Leafs moved into the Maple Leaf Garden but lost their maiden game against the Chicago Blackhawks in their new home. Another mishap befell the Maple Leafs when their star forward Ace Bailey cracked his skull when Boston Bruins defenseman Eddie Shore knocked him onto the ice in a game. This injury was almost fatal for Bailey, but it put an end to his career on the ice. Despite winning three Stanley Cups, the Maple Leafs' performance eventually slackened. Though they placed in the five finals in seven years, the victorious end eluded the team. The Maple Leafs lost to the Montreal Maroons, the Detroit Red Wings, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Boston Bruins, and to the Rangers. By season 1940-41, the Maple Leafs were barely keeping up with the other teams.

Season 1942-43 however sparked a glimmer of hope for the team when Don Metz gave an unexpected stellar performance. More victories followed, perpetuated by start players such as Syl Apps, Turk Brodda, and Sweeney Schriner. They won the Stanley Cup in season 1948-49 after turning to lesser known stars such as Franck Mccool, Babe Pratt, and Steve Birilko who unfortunately died in a plane crash in the 1950s.

Toronto Maple Leafs: forever rivals

After the Montreal Canadiens, the Toronto Maple Leafs came in second for winning the most number of Stanley Cups throughout the history of the NHL. Many players have graced the ice and led this team to getting the thirteen Stanley Cups it is proud of, before the Canadiens snatched and kept the trophy in a staggering 24 wins. Despite the bitter rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens, the Maple Leafs also have forged competitions with other teams. In Canada, sparks flew when the Maple Leafs clashed with the Ottawa Sens in the early 1990s. When it comes to battling it out with American teams, the Maple Leafs also have a lot of adversaries from Uncle Sam's land. The rift against the Philadelphia Flyers that started in the 1970s was reopened in 2003 when the Maple Leafs were defeated in their bid for the Stanley Cup. The Buffalo Sabres have also been the Maple Leafs convenient rival, thanks to the proximity of the city to Toronto. Leafs fans can drive just a short distance when the team is playing in Buffalo to provide support.