NHL Team Profiles: Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs are a pro Ice hockey team in the NHL and have been regular FanDuel Stanley Cup picks. They were founded in 1917 and play in the Atlantic Division of the eastern conference.
They have won 13 Stanley Cups, second only to the Montreal Canadiens. They also have two minor league affiliates and are one of the biggest teams in the entire NHL.
There is much to know about them, however.
To be familiar with the Maple Leafs you need to know their history.
Their Early Years
The NHL was formed in 1917 in Montreal by teams that used to belong to the NHA. They originally wanted a four-team circuit, made up of the Canadiens, Maroons, Ottawa, and another club either in Toronto or Quebec City.
Toronto’s inclusion in the inaugural season was announced properly in late 1917. They did not have a name officially, but they were called the ‘Blue shirts’ informally by the press and the fans. Amazingly they won the first-ever Stanley Cup in the NHL.
The following season, the Toronto Arena Hockey Club was formed and granted full membership in the NHL. They also decided that only NHL teams could play at the Arena Gardens which killed the NHA off completely.
From 1927 until 1961 there were some financially tricky seasons for the Maple Leafs,
In February 1927, Smythe renamed the team the Maple Leafs, after the national symbol of Canada, attributing it to his experiences during WWI, and viewing the symbol as one of courage and a reminder of home.
In September 2917 the team changed their color scheme.
In 1930 Smythe decided to construct a new arena which would end up being the Maple Leaf Gardens, their first game was against the Chicago Black Hawks which they lost.
Then from 1933, the Leafs went to the Finals 5 times in 7 years.
Their first dynasty was in the 40s, and the 1942 finals, they were down 3-0 to Detroit when Don Metz galvanized the team.
The Leafs are still the only team to have performed a reverse sweep successfully, and it was in this game they did so.
Smythe was reenlisted in the army after WWII broke out and as he had arranged for many of the players to enlist, a large portion of the team did not play several seasons due to obligations with the Forces.
As the war ended many of those who had enlisted returned to their teams.
As the 60s came around, the Leafs became stronger, many trades were made and the team was pumped up with talent so that in ‘61 their playoff run only ended in the semifinals against the Red Wings.
In 1961, Smythe also sold almost all of his shares in the club’s parent company to a partnership that was composed of his son and other partners.
Under this new ownership, Toronto won 3 Stanley Cups in a row, rocking NHL lines. However, 2 seasons after their victory run they saw many departures from the team, and from 1966-1967 they lost 10 consecutive games.
From 1968 until 1970 they made the playoffs only one time!
In 1971, Harold Ballard became the primary Leaf’s owner, and the WHA became a competitor against the NHL, but he did not believe it would compete, which ended up leading to key player losses.
Disarray and chaos were rife in this era for the Maple Leafs, the 80s were chaos, and their success was minimal. They sometimes made the playoffs but when they did, it was with the worst winning percentages on record.
From 1990 until 2004, the franchise saw a bit more success. With new ownership once more, and a new coach things got better.
They had strong seasons in 1990 and again in 1993 when they started the season with a winning streak of 10 games and finished the season with 98 points. They ended up making it to the conference finals only to get eliminated by the Canucks in 5 games.
Eventually, in 1988, they gained a new home, while the MLGL purchased the Toronto Raptors.
The 1999-2000 season saw the Maple Leafs host the 50th All-Star game, and then went on to win their first 100-point season and a division title in 37 years!
The 00s saw the Maple Leafs see their longest playoff drought in history, coaching changes, and a lack of success. Eventually, Brendan Shanahan came into play as the new president of the Maple Leafs.
With new coaching, the Maple Leafs started to see more success, and more skilled players being brought in.
In 2021, they lost their first round of the playoffs, however, despite such a painful ending to that season, in 2022 they seemed ready to take another run, which they did, making it to the playoffs but losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games in the first round again!
The Maple Leafs have been a great team throughout NHL history, however, in recent years they have seen more of a struggle than in their latter years. That being said, they still have plenty of potential to do brilliantly in this year’s games!
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