MAPLE LEAFS (19-25-9)
8:30 pm (TSN4)
After starting off February with back to back wins, the Leafs have stormed back with four straight losses. Wait…what? They actually beat the Canucks??? With that lineup? BAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Okay so on Saturday night, the Leafs spanked the Canucks 5-2 in Vancouver, thus effectively ending a three game losing streak. It was the first Toronto win in Van City since November of 2003 and it was also the club’s first win since trading team captain Dion Phaneuf last Tuesday. With the victory, the Leafs improved to a 3-5-2 record in their last ten games.
In tonight’s matchup, the Buds will look to lose against the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks. The slumping Hawks are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks and have posted an uncharacteristic 4-5-1 record in their last 10 games. Regardless of recent play, we can expect the Hawks to get back on the gravy train tonight as they face the worst team in the NHL. (I died a little inside while typing that)
The two clubs last met exactly one month ago on January 15th. If you can recall, the Blackhawks rolled into Toronto and dished out a 4-1 beating to our beloved Loafs. All-Star Patrick Kane led the way with a hat-trick while Morgan Rielly scored the lone Leaf goal. Sadly, we can all expect more of the same tonight. But hey let’s not focus too much on the inevitable disaster that awaits the Leafs…
Back to the Future
While the Leafs’ future appears to be bright as the club currently holds the best odds of landing the first overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, the present is far bleaker. The pain is here and to the dismay of head coach Mike Babcock, more losses are expected. So how can Leafs Nation cope with the troubles that are laid before them? Well, fans can always ignore the present and dream about the future. Dream about drafting Auston Matthews, signing Steven Stamkos, coordinating lopsided trades, and one day capturing Lord Stanley’s mug.
This is all fantastic, but there is too much uncertainty when dealing with the future. Let’s save the parade planning for the dreamers as we briefly focus on something more definite…the past.
Blast from the Past
Eighty-nine years ago, the Leafs original rebuild commenced. On Monday February 14, 1927, the Toronto St. Patricks were purchased for $160, 000 by a group of local investors led by the legendary Conn Smythe. The sale was in the works for several weeks and ultimately saved the franchise from being moved to Philadelphia. Although the deal was completed on Valentine’s Day, new management would not take control of the club until Wednesday February 16th. At this point in the season, the St. Pats were bottom dwellers and new management promised to bring in big changes to “build up a winning team.” Perhaps, this was the first and only successful rebuild in Leafs history. Changes happened quickly as the new owners announced that the St. Pats would be immediately rebranded as the Toronto Maple Leafs once they took possession of the team. Furthermore, former Toronto Argonaut and amateur hockey player, Alex Romeril, was named interim head coach. He would manage the club for the remainder of the season before being replaced by Conn Smythe.
Sidenote – New coach and a logo change… This could be a common theme in successful Leafs rebuilds. Maybe, Shanny was looking into the past for answers about the future.
On Tuesday, February 15, 1927 (89 years ago today), the Toronto franchise took to the ice for the last time as the Toronto St. Pats. The club was set for a date with the Detroit Cougars who were in their inaugural NHL season. The Cougars would subsequently change their name to the Falcons in 1930 and then to the Red Wings in 1932. Believe it or not, the Cougars did not play their first season in Detroit. By the time the 1926-1927 season had begun, the Detroit Olympia was still under construction so the Cougars played all their home games at the old Windsor Arena in Windsor, Ontario. Oddly enough, in a piece of much forgotten history, the St. Pats would play their final game in Windsor, a city which hasn’t seen NHL hockey since March 26, 1927.
Upon its completion in late 1925, Windsor Arena was hailed as the best arena in Ontario as it featured a state-of-the-art artificial ice rink (which was rare at the time) and held capacity for about 7,000 people.
However, only 150 hockey fans made their way to Windsor Arena to watch the St. Pats last game. Unfortunately, Windsor was hit by a blizzard and the hometown Cougars were struggling. Yes, there was little reason for folks to come out and see two non-playoff teams battle it out in a game which appeared to have no significance at the time. Regardless of the poor attendance, the game was still played and it was rather forgettable too as the St. Pats fell 5-1 to the Cougars. Toronto outshot Detroit 33-27 and Corb Denneny scored the last goal in St. Pats history.
Sidenote – Coincidentally, there is very little reason for Leafs fans to watch tonight’s game in Chicago. You can probably expect a 5-1 road loss too!
On Thursday, February 17, 1927, the St. Pats officially turned a new leaf as they faced the New York Americans in Toronto. Decked out in white jerseys featuring a prominent green Maple Leaf, the Toronto Maple Leafs played their first NHL game. The new look was officially introduced to fans on this night; although, the new identity was first revealed to the club’s players on the train ride to Windsor. Sound familiar???
“Throwback to Shanny’s Steve Jobs moment when he revealed the new Leafs’ logo to the players before introducing it to the fans.”
The freshly rebranded Leafs experienced immediate success as they put up a solid 4-1 victory over the Americans. George “Paddy” Patterson scored the first ever Maple Leaf goal while Irvin “Ace” Bailey led the rest of the offense and captain Hap Day was stellar on the Leafs blueline. Coach Romeril felt that Day, a natural left-winger, would be better suited on the backend and he was right. From that point on, Hap Day would never compete as a forward again as he played his remaining eleven seasons as an NHL defenseman. Romeril and the Buds would close out the final thirteen games of the season with a winning record (7-5-1).
There you have it…a brief glimpse of the original rebuild and its early beginnings. A rebuild which would make the Leafs champions within just four seasons. A rebuild which would define what exactly it is to be a Maple Leaf. A rebuild which created one of the biggest brands and biggest fan-bases in sports history.
This Day in Leafs History
Here are some other events from This Day in Leafs History:
2015 – Leafs send Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Olli Jokinen, Brendan Leipsic and a 1st round draft pick.
2011 – Leafs acquire Aaron Voros from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a conditional 7th round pick.
2011 – Mikhail Grabovski picks up his second goal of the night with a thrilling late game winner against the Bruins; Leafs win 4-3 in Boston.
1999 – Secondary scoring secures the Leafs a point in a 3-3 tie with the New Jersey Devils. Goals scored by Bryan Berard, Derek King and Garry Valk.
1994 – Doug Gilmour leads the Leafs to a 5-4 overtime victory over the Detroit Red Wings as he picks up a goal and two assists.
1984 – Leafs sell winger Bill Harris to the Los Angeles Kings.
1979 – Former Leafs centre Adam Mair was born in Hamilton, Ontario.
1970 – Former Leafs left-winger Rob Cimetta was born in Toronto.
1967 – After an incredible 11 game winless streak, the Leafs picked up their second straight win as they hammered the Rangers 6-0 in Toronto.
1963 – Centre Marty Dallman was born in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
1922 – George O’Donoghue’s Toronto St. Pats beat the Hamilton Tigers 6-4 at the historic Arena Gardens.
1914 – Right-winger Mel Hill was born in Glenboro, Manitoba.
Newspaper Articles from 1927
Instead of reading about the current state of the Leafs which I’m sure all of you know much about, I thought it would be fun to present some articles from the Globe & Mail circa February of 1927. Enjoy!
February 15, 1927
February 15, 1927
February 16, 1927
February 17, 1927
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February 17, 1927
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Michael Grabner – Nazem Kadri – Leo Komarov
Peter Holland – Mark Arcobello – PA Parenteau
Daniel Winnik – Nick Spaling – Brad Boyes
Colin Greening – Byron Froese – Rich Clune
Matt Hunwick – Morgan Rielly
Jake Gardiner – Roman Polak
Martin Marincin – Frank Corrado
Andrew Shaw – Jonathan Toews – Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin – Artem Anisimov – Patrick Kane
Andrew Desjardins – Phillip Danault – Teuvo Teravainen
Brandon Mashinter – Dennis Rasmussen – Vincent Hinostroza
Duncan Keith – Niklas Hjalmarsson
Trevor Van Riemsdyk – Brent Seabrook
Viktor Svedberg – Michal Rozsival
Lines found at www.nhl.com
— Leafs Hub (@LeafsHub) February 12, 2016
Gdiff (5v5) — -14
Gdiff (All) — -24
CF% (5v5) — 50.9
PP% — 14.6
PK% — 81.2
Gdiff (5v5) — -1
Gdiff (All) — +26
CF% (5v5) — 51.1
PP% — 20.3
PK% — 80.9