Ice Hockey Legends – Toronto Maple Leafs
Undoubtedly, sports having been playing a very integral part in the modern society over the past few decades. With a variety of sports to chose from, more and more athletes continue to sprout and earn a living through sportsmanship. Ice hockey, particularly, has gained popularity in countries such as Canada, the USA and various European countries since its inception in the 19th century. The 6 -per-side full-contact team sport has facilitated the creation of many teams in different leagues, with the Toronto Maple leafs Hockey Team being one of the most recognized and decorated in their league.
Founded on November 1917, the Toronto (Canada)-based franchise is considered a member of the “Original Six”, one of the first six teams to grace the Atlantic Division of the National Hockey League (NHL). The team was initially known as the Toronto Arenas, a name that lasted until 1919 before a change of ownership saw them adopt a new name, the Toronto St. Patricks. Further change of ownership in 1927 facilitated another name-change to the Toronto Maple Leafs, a name that has been retained since. Although their name and logos have changed often, they have only changed home grounds twice. They initially moved from the Arena Gardens to the Maple Leaf Gardens in 1931, later changing to their current home the Air Canada Centre in 1999.
With their blue and white striped coloured kits, the squad has enjoyed winning 13 Stanley Cup championships since their formation, second only to the Montreal Canadiens. This is in addition to another 5 division championships that they have bagged over the years. As of the year 2013, the Leafs were worth an estimated USD $1.15 billion, effectively making them the most valuable team in the NHL. In addition to that, their jersey has been famous for being one of the best-sellers in the NHL history. In 2014, Forbes Magazine ranked them in 26th place in the most valuable sports team category.
The Leafs have also endured their fair share of setbacks, with the oldest one being a legal battle in 1919 which saw the team’s owners file for bankruptcy after selling a majority of the team’s stars. However, the most famous setback has to be the 47-year championship drought the team has had to endure, an NHL record. They won their last championship in 1967 at home after beating their famous rivals, the Montreal Canadiens.
As aforementioned, the Leafs have had a fierce rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens over the years, with most pundits calling it hockey’s greatest. Believed to have begun when the Leaf’s then manager Frank Selke switched sides in 1946, this rivalry has lasted for generations with the 2007 finals play-off serving as its greatest depiction. The Detroit Red Wings have also served as great rivals to the Leafs, with their rivalry exceeding the ice and onto the stands. The increased animosity between fans of the two teams can be accredited to their close proximity and a 1950 incident where a Toronto player was severely injured by a mistimed check from his Red Wings colleague.
The 2014-2015 season has seen the Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Team rank at 6th position in the Eastern Conference having played 54 games and won 23. Whether this will change the team’s fortune is a mystery that the fan’s hope will be unraveled soon.