With the advent of NHL realignment, the Florida Panthers will be playing the 2013-14 NHL season in a new division with new division rivals. In an effort to get Panthers fans acquainted with these new opponents, we will be running a series titled “Let’s Get To Know…”. Instead of a doing straight up season previews for the Atlantic Division, “Let’s Get To Know…” will have much broader goals. As a blog dedicated to the Florida Panthers, any preview we write about other teams will probably end up being scantily researched and ultimately useless (that does not mean we probably won’t try anyway). There are hundreds if not thousands of hockey writers out there dedicated solely to their teams and their season previews would be a much better way to allocate your internet time if you are interested in learning more about the current states of each Atlantic Division team. We want these pieces to educate Panthers fans about the history of our new rivals, how they got to where they are today, and just any fun general weirdness that we feel will make your viewing experience of these match ups more rewarding when the season gets under way. So without further ado…lets get to know…The Toronto Maple Leafs!
Toronto Maple Leafs:
- Original Six Team formed in 1917-18 as the Toronto Arenas
- Won the NHL’s first Stanley Cup in 1918, have won 13 total Cups in their history, second only to the Montreal Candaiens
- General Manager: Dave Nonis
- Head Coach: Randy Carlyle
- Last Playoff Appearance: 2013, lost to Bruins in first round 4 games to 3
- Ranked by Forbes as the most valuable NHL franchise. Only NHL franchise valued at $1 billion.
- Franchise Scoring Leader: Mats Sundin (420 goals, 567 assits for 987 points in 981 games played)
- Played in Maple Leaf Garden from from 1931-1999
- Current home (1999-present) is Air Canada Centre (capacity 19,746)
- The Maple Leafs history coincides with the formation of the NHL and it can all be traced back to the “man responsible for the formation of the NHL” Eddie Livingstone. Before there was the NHL, there was the National Hockey Association (NHA) and Eddie Livingstone was the owner of the Toronto Blueshirts. Livingstone was so despised by the other NHA owners that they broke off and formed the NHL without him. The break was supposed to be temporary so hockey could continue to be played while the NHA owners negotiated with Livingstone whatever it was they negotiated back then. (See obtuse ownership finaglings are imbued in the leagues’ history!!!) When it was clear that Livingstone was not going to be moved from whatever his position was, the NHL owners who still held the majority in the NHA voted to permanently shut the NHA down and move forward with their new league. (Source)
- Not only did the NHA owners form the NHL to ditch Livingstone but the Toronto Arenas (the team formed to replace Livingstone’s Toronto Blueshirts) won the inaugural Stanley Cup with a roster predominately made up of players leased from Livingstone’s now defunct NHA team.
- In 1919 with the Toronto Arenas (what a terrible name by the way) facing financial troubles, the team was sold and renamed the Toronto St. Patricks or Toronto St. Pats for short. Along with the name change, their colors were changed from blue and white to green and white. Check out the St. Pat’s jersey here.
- When the St. Pat’s ownership group, headed by Charlie Querrie, ran into financial troubles in 1927 (the result of losing a lawsuit to none other than Eddie Livingstone), two potential buyers of the franchise emerged. A Philadelphia group put together an offer worth $200,000 while a man named Conn Smythe headed up an offer that would keep the franchise in Toronto worth $160,000. Querrie chose the Toronto bid and with that nod to civic pride over money, the Maple Leafs sidestepped a bullet that would have gravely altered their history. Had the Leafs moved to Philly they would have sacrificed a future as one of the leagues’ most storied franchises, to instead become just a footnote in the dusty annals of the NHL. (Source Wiki)
- Upon purchasing the team, Smythe changed the teams’ name to The Maple Leafs. A popular version of why he chose Maple Leafs was to honor the Maple Leaf Regiment that served during WWI. This explains why the name is spelled Leafs and not Leaves. Because the regiment was a proper noun its plural is Leafs.
- Originally Smythe kept the Leafs’ colors green and white and their original logo looked at lot like a marijuana leaf if I do say so myself.
- If you asked the Maple Leafs organization what their blue and white colors signify they would tell you the blue is for the Canadian sky and the white is for the snow.
- Conn Smythe left no stone uncovered when it came to helping his team, and he even turned to gambling on a few occasions to raise money. Prior to his time with the Maple Leafs, Smythe work for the New York Rangers. Following his dismissal from New York, Smythe took $2,500 of his separation money and bet on a football game between Toronto and McGill. After winning that bet he bet his subsequent winnings on the New York Rangers beating the Toronto St. Pats. When it was all said and done, Smythe had turned his $2,500 into $10,000. He used that ten grand as the initial investment in purchasing the Toronto St. Pats.
- Another Smythe gambling story is, when the cash strapped Ottawa Senators put star defenseman King Clancy on the market for an exorbitant asking price, Smythe bet $100 on a horse he owned named Rare Jewel who was running at odds of 100-1 that day. His horse won and Smythe put his winnings towards purchasing Clancy for $35,000. To make this story even stranger, Smythe’s trainer and partner had given Rare Jewel some brandy on the day of the race. Smythe was unaware of this and his inebriated horse miraculously came through with the win.
- So lets recap for a minute here: the Leafs got their start thanks to some good old fashion collusion which was necessitated by the dislike of Livingstone, who by all accounts seems like he was a royal a-hole, and their most famous owner purchased the team with gambling money that he won betting against the team he was purchasing….now the Leafs are the highest valued team in the NHL. I know they are located on the other side of one of those Great Lakes in some little known place called Canada but their story has all the makings of a classic American success story.
Fun facts and miscellaneous:
- Toronto is the largest city in Canada and at 2.6 million residents, it is the 5th most populous city in North America.
- Phil Kessel is listed as 202 lbs…thats a fun fact because of this picture.
- The word Toronto originates from the Mohawk word Tkaronto which translates to “where there are trees standing in the water”. You cannot get much better imagery for a team named the Maple Leafs who happen to play their sport on a frozen pond.
- Supposedly, tickets to Leafs games are the hardest ticket in hockey to get. The organization claims they have sold out every game since World War II and the waiting list for season tickets was 2,500 names long as of 2008.
- Leafs fans live and die with their team and their exuberance can be annoying at times, especially when they are taking over the BB&T Center at Panthers’ home games. The fact that they rank a cool 12 out of 10 on the hockey fan obnoxiousness meter makes this video of Leafs’ fans reacting to their team blowing game 7 against the Bruins so much sweeter:
Actually that was not sweet at all, just sad and depressing. Every sports fan has lived through a similar experience and knows that empty feeling..anyway I bet one of these guys went home that night and brought himself back from the edge by making this gem of a video hyping up Leafs Nation for the 2013-14 season:
By the way I just entered “Florida Panthers hype video” and all I got was football…in fact I had to go to the second page to find anything hockey related. It just so happened that in doing this search I stumbled upon this beauty of a post game report from a 1995 Panthers-Maple Leafs matchup:
The only thing that matters in this video and in life in general is Leafs’ Head Coach Pat Burns and his spectacular mullet mustache combo from 0:44-0:53.
- Okay lets wrap this up with some famous Maple Leafs fans..we’ll start with the most famous human the universe has ever seen Justin Bieber who has been know to rock a Maple Leafs jersey from time to time. A quick google images search also shows him rocking Canucks, Blackhawks, and Jets jerseys so maybe he’s just a fan of polyester.
- Drake is from Toronto and you can bet your ass he is a Maple Leafs fan…at least when they are in the playoffs:
GO LEAFS GO!!! YOU CAN’T SHAKE THE TREE!!! #TORONTOMAPLELEAFS
— Drizzy (@Drake) May 13, 2013
- We cannot forget about Mike Myers who loves the Leafs so much that he gave them the distinguished honor of being featured in his hit comedy classic, “The Love Guru“.
- Last but not least, astronaut Chris Hadfield is a Leafs fan. DAMN! The MAPLE LEAFS ARE SO POPULAR THEY’VE GOT FANS IN MUTHER F-ING SPACE!!!
- Last but not least the Toronto Maple Leafs’ mascot is Carlton the Bear. His name and number (60) are a tribute to the address of Maple Leaf Garden which was located at 6o Carlton St.
So there you have it. When the season starts and the Panthers face off against Maple Leafs you may not be able to name three Leafs’ players who are on the rise and you may not know who is undervalued or overvalued in fantasy hockey but you will know that their mascot is named Carlton and really why would you ever need to know anything else.