Toronto Maple Leafs (Toronto Maple Leaves) is a professional Canadian ice hockey team, located in Toronto, Ontario. The franchise is one of the founders of the National Hockey League, so the club is considered one of the tournament’s history. They have won a total of thirteen Stanley Cups, being the last one in the 1966-67 season, and are with Montreal Canadiens one of the most popular teams in Canada. According to the most recent edition of Forbes magazine in November 2012, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the NHL’s most valuable franchise with an approximate value of $ 1 billion.
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Toronto team starts
In 1917 the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Quebec Bulldogs and Ottawa Senators, from the National Hockey Association, decided to create the National Hockey League. The owner of the previous Toronto team, the Toronto Blueshirts, decided not to join the new championship due to discrepancies. Given this situation, the four franchises thought that not having a team in the second most populous city in Canada would be unfeasible, so they decided to grant a temporary franchise to the owners of the city’s sand, Arena Gardens, until the Toronto Blueshirts could be integrated into the championship.
The new team, officially only Toronto, had the previous Blueshirts players, so the press began using that denomination to refer to the whole. Toronto was the first Stanley Cup champion in the history of the NHL, under the direction of Charlie Querrie and Dick Carroll. The following year, the owners decided to make their own club, the Toronto Arena, and became an official franchise. Unable to count on the stars of the previous year, the Sands season was unsuccessful. This, coupled with legal disputes with the owner of the Blueshirts, caused the bankruptcy of the company Arena.
The franchise was put up for sale, and coach Querrie got a group, which he already directed to the St. Patricks of the Ontario Hockey Association, to buy. The new owners renamed the club as Toronto St. Patricks, a name that lasted until 1927. They won the Stanley Cup again in 1922, with players like ‘Babe’ Dye or ‘Ace’ Bailey.
Change of name to Toronto Maple Leafs
After losing a lawsuit, Querrie is forced to sell the club. Despite receiving more substantial offers from other cities, the previous owner sold it to Conn Smythe for $ 160,000. Smythe took control of the club on Valentine’s Day, 1927, and changed the name of the franchise to Toronto Maple Leafs (maple leaf), in honor of the Maple Leaf regiment he fought during World War I. From that moment they were characterized by a physical game that has historically characterized the team.
After several bad seasons, the team premiered a new stadium in 1931: Maple Leaf Gardens. Led by the Kid Line (Busher Jackson, Joe Primeau and Charlie Conacher), they won their third Stanley Cup. Despite winning only one title during the 1930s, Toronto reached the final five times without beating it. Maple Leafs also introduced the first Star Party (All-Star) of the NHL, in tribute to his player Ace Bailey who saw his career as a player truncated in 1933 because of an injury.
The 1940s were successful for the club, with five Stanley Cups (1942, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949) and players like Syl Apps, Babe Pratt or Turk Broda. Although part of the 1942 squad left the team for various reasons, Toronto was able to recover and form a winning team that would rival its eternal rival, Montreal Canadiens. With their victory in 1948, they managed to unseat the Canadiens as a team with more titles momentarily. The team would win again in 1951.
In the 1961-62 season Conn Smythe sells all his shares to a consortium formed by his son Stafford and several entrepreneurs. The sale price was 2.3 million dollars. With the new owners Toronto won three Stanley Cup in a row, from 1962 to 1964, with players like Frank Mahovlich, Red Kelly, Johnny Bower, Dave Keon, Andy Bathgate, and Tim Horton. In 1967 they achieved their last Stanley Cup against the Canadiens. Darryl Sittler also stood out, and currently holds the record for goals scored in a match (10)
In 1971 Stafford Smythe dies, so one of his partners, Harold Ballard, takes his actions and the control of the Maple Leafs. Internal conflicts over franchise control extended to the workforce, and Toronto did not achieve a single title in that decade. The decline of the team came from 1979, when Ballard hired Punch Imlach, who was manager during the three consecutive titles from 1962 to 1964, as general manager. He sold several influential players in Toronto, with Ballard’s interference in certain actions, and the bad situation ended in a spiral of poor Leafs results. But the bad results allowed him to take good players from the drafts, like Wendell Clark, top scorer of the club at the time.
Ballard dies in 1990, and a year later Stee Stavro, owner of a supermarket chain and Ballard’s personal friend, buys most of the Leafs shares. Unlike the previous owner, Stavro decided not to intervene in sports, and hired Cliff Fletcher as general director, who won the Stanley Cup in 1989 with Calgary Flames. Fletcher decided to build a competitive block again, through transfers and the signing of several free agents. From the 1992-93 season the game improved, and Toronto managed to qualify again for the playoffs.
In 1996 Stavro joined Larry Tanenbaum, co-founder of Toronto Raptors (NBA), to form a new company that ran both clubs. Thus was born the Toronto Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainmetnt, which runs the operations of Leafs, Raptors, Toronto FC (Major League Soccer) and Toronto Marlies (AHL). In the 1999-2000 season, led by Pat Quinn, division champions were proclaimed and reached the conference finals. That same year Toronto leaves its mythical Maple Leaf Gardens stadium to move to the Air Canada Center. In 2003-04 the team achieved a percentage of .623 in the regular season, one of the best in the history of the franchise.
After the 2004-05 strike, Maple Leafs would have to adopt several changes in the workforce and management.
In the 2012/13 season he qualified for the playoffs, but lost in the first round against Boston Bruins.