Toronto Maple Leafs History
The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of five teams in the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The Maple Leafs play at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and wear uniforms of blue and white. Formerly called the Toronto Arenas and the Toronto St. Patricks, Toronto is the oldest continuously operated franchise in the NHL. The team’s name is derived from the traditional symbol of Canada, the maple leaf.
The Maple Leafs dominated the early NHL, competing in 13 Stanley Cup Finals and collecting seven championships from 1932 to 1951. Toronto is one of just two teams that have won at least three consecutive Stanley Cup championships on two different occasions; the Montréal Canadiens are the other. Head coach Happy Day led the Maple Leafs to three straight titles from 1947 to 1949, and head coach Punch Imlach piloted the club to three successive crowns from 1962 to 1964.
In 1917 the Toronto Arenas and three other former members of the National Hockey Association (NHA) and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) created the NHL. Following the new league’s first season, the NHL-champion Arenas defeated the PCHA-champion Vancouver Millionaires to capture the Stanley Cup. Toronto, renamed the St. Patricks in 1919, won a rematch against Vancouver in 1922. Toronto’s early stars included wings Corbett Denneny, Reg Noble, and Babe Dye, who was awarded the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer in both 1923 and 1925. In 1927 the team was renamed the Maple Leafs.
In 1931 Dick Irvin became the Maple Leafs’ head coach, and he steered the team to seven Stanley Cup Finals from the 1931-32 season to the 1939-40 season. Toronto only won once, over the New York Rangers in 1932. The Maple Leafs teams of this period featured many future Hockey Hall of Fame members, including wings Ace Bailey, who won the Art Ross Trophy in 1929; Charlie Conacher, who received the Art Ross Trophy in 1934 and 1935; Gordie Drillon, who earned the Art Ross Trophy in 1938; and Busher Jackson. Centers Syl Apps and Joe Primeau were also stars of the team.
Irvin’s successor, former Toronto defenseman Happy Day, became Toronto’s coach in 1940. He was even more successful than Irvin. From 1942 to 1949 Toronto reached the Stanley Cup Finals five times, defeating the Detroit Red Wings in 1942, 1945, 1948, and 1949 and the Montréal Canadiens in 1947. The outstanding Maple Leafs of this time included goalie Turk Broda, who received the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s leading goaltender in 1941 and 1948; goalie Frank McCool, who won the Vezina Trophy in 1945; and defenseman Babe Pratt, who was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player (MVP) in 1944.
Under first-year head coach Joe Primeau, the Maple Leafs earned their ninth Stanley Cup championship in 1951, when they defeated the Canadiens 4 games to 1. That same season goalie Al Rollins earned the Vezina Trophy. Punch Imlach became head coach of the team in 1959, and in his 11 seasons as head coach the Maple Leafs collected four Stanley Cup titles, including three straight: in 1962, when they defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, and in 1963 and 1964, when they defeated the Detroit Red Wings. Imlach’s fourth title came in 1967, over the Canadiens. During the 1960s Johnny Bower became a top goalie in the league, earning the Vezina Trophy in both 1961 and 1965. Left wing Frank Mahovlich was Toronto’s top offensive threat, leading the club in scoring five times from 1960 to 1966. Defenseman Tim Horton led the defense and played in the NHL All-Star Game numerous times during the decade.
After 1967 the Maple Leafs’ performance declined, and the club was no longer one of the leading teams of the NHL. Maple Leafs stars during the late 1960s and the 1970s included centers Darryl Sittler and Normie Ullman and defenseman Borje Salming, a member of six consecutive NHL All-Star teams.
Head coach Pat Burns, formerly of the Canadiens, sparked a revival for the Maple Leafs in the 1992-93 season; the team registered 44 regular-season victories and reached the conference finals. For this success, Burns was awarded the Jack Adams Award as the NHL coach of the year. In 1994 the Maple Leafs again reached the conference finals before being eliminated from the playoffs. Outstanding players of the 1990s included centers Doug Gilmour and Mats Sundin, and goalie Felix Potvin.
Official Toronto Maple Leafs Web Site