The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the most storied franchises in the entire NHL. And as one of the “Original Six” teams, they are also one of the longest standing teams. The team has won the second most Stanley Cups of any team in NHL history, with 13. The only team with more is fittingly enough their bitter rival, the Montreal Canadiens. Despite being extremely well supported, with plenty of money at their disposal, the Maple Leafs have struggled in recent years, unable to rekindle their past glories.
History of the Maple Leafs Pure Maple Syrup
The Toronto Maple Leafs were originally the Toronto Arenas, owned by the Arena Company. They came to be after the league that preceded the NHL, the National Hockey Association, disbanded due to a disagreement with the pushy owner of the Toronto Blueshirts organization of that league. In the new NHL, the Toronto Arenas soon became a team as the league decided there could be no NHL without a franchise in Toronto. How right they were about that! The Arenas however were short lived. Under new ownership the team was renamed as the Toronto St. Patricks, and actually had green as their main jersey color.
It was not until 1927 that the Toronto Maple Leafs, or officially, the Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Club, came into existence as we know them today. With the classic blue and white jerseys, the team had a sense of dignity and respect from the beginning, that would be justified by handfuls of championships to follow.
The team was actually named after a World War I regiment called the Maple Leaf Regiment. There was also a baseball team in Toronto entitled the Toronto Maple Leafs for some time before the hockey team was known as such. Since the name of the regiment, Maple Leaf, is a proper noun, the word Leaf does not change to its normal plural of Leaves, hence the spelling, Toronto Maple Leafs.
When the Golden Years of the Maple Leafs are recalled, people are usually referring to the 1940s, when the Leafs won five Stanley Cups. The team also won four in the 1960s, marking a decade where their archrival the Montreal Canadiens also won four championships. The last of these titles, and the last Stanley Cup that the Maple Leafs won, came in 1967 against guess who, those hated Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens were heavily favored to win the Stanley Cup that year, however the Leafs pulled it out, including winning a double overtime all-time classic in the third game. The three other championships in the 1960s were won consecutively, from 1962-1964.
All of these championships, along with another in the 1930s and one more in the 1950s, took place while the team was playing at their longtime home, the Maple Leaf Gardens. The Gardens housed the team astonishingly from 1931 all the way until 1999, when the team moved to the Air Canada Centre. The new arena has all of the amenities of a modern arena and was designed to be a multipurpose sports and entertainment complex. But of course, it’s missing that classic aura of nostalgia and prestige that the Maple Leaf Gardens had.
Air Canada Centre is owned by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd., the group that owns not only the Maple Leafs but also the Toronto Raptors of the NBA. In fact, the Air Canada Centre was actually originally designed mainly for basketball, until MLSE purchased both the Raptors and the new stadium in progress, in the process finding a new home for the Leafs.
Most Popular Team in the NHL
The Toronto Maple Leafs have an extremely broad and far reaching fan base, affectionately known as Leafs Nation. This has made them the most valuable NHL franchise, being estimated at nearly half of a billion dollars. It has also made the Maple Leafs the most despised team in the NHL, similar to how the New York Yankees are the most loved and hated team in Major League Baseball. From 1946-1999 at the Maple Leaf Gardens arena, the team sold out every home game, a truly miraculous feat.
This large and dedicated fan base though has added an ever increasing pressure for the Maple Leafs to win. The team is in an extremely long drought when it comes to Stanley Cup Championships. It looked as if the early 1990s would be the time when the Maple Leafs finally broke through once again. Stars like franchise scoring leader Mats Sundin, Doug Gilmour, Dave Andreychuk and goalie Felix Potvin led the team close but not all the way. In the first several years of the 2000s the team also made several playoff runs, but always came up short.