The year 2009 is coming quickly to an end and I have decided to take a look at the best Toronto Maple Leaf player on a decade by decade basis covering Toronto clubs from 1920-2009. The Maple Leafs were known as the Toronto St. Pats until the 1927 season when the team was purchased by Conn Smythe and the named changed to the Toronto Maple Leafs. This organization has had many outstanding players and currently boasts 57 players in the Hockey Hall of Fame who at one time or another who wore the Toronto sweater. The Toronto Maple Leafs have won 11 Stanley Cups with the Toronto St. Pats and the Toronto Arenas winning one a piece for a total of 13 but unfortunately for most fans the organization has not won a Stanley Cup since the 1966-67 season. We now give a decade by decade breakdown of who we feel was the best player of each decade, this was not an easy task as the Leafs especially during their Stanley Cup winning years had many key players that contributed to the teams success.
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Legend: GP- Games Played, G- Goals, A- Assists, PTS- Points
1920-29 BABE DYE
Career Maple Leaf/St. Pat's Regular Season Stats: GP- 218 G- 173 A- 42 PTS- 215
Career Maple Leaf/St. Pat's Playoff Stats: GP- 11 G- 11 A- 1 PTS- 12
Babe Dye was the first Toronto sniper, the Babe whos real name is Cecil Henry Dye scored an unheard of 11 goals in 7 playoff games leading the St. Pat's to the Stanley Cup. Dye also scored 38 goals in 29 games in the 1924/25 season and averaged over todays 82 game schedule would have scored an astonishing 106 goals for the season.
The Hockey News ranked him #83 on the list of the NHL's Greatest Players.
Inducted into Hall of Fame: 1970 Maple Leafs/St. Pat's Stanley Cups won: 1
Honourable Mention: Reg Noble, Happy Day
1930-39 CHARLIE CONACHER
Career Maple Leaf Regular Season Stats: GP- 326 G- 200 A- 124 PTS 324
Career Maple Leaf Playoff Stats: GP- 41 G- 14 A- 12 PTS- 26
Conacher was part of the famous kid line of the 30's and collected 14 career hat tricks as a member of the Leafs. Conacher captured the Art Ross trophy as the league's leading scorer in 1934 and then again 1935 and was selected to the end of the year All Star squad on five occasions, three times as first line right winger and the other two as the second line right winger.
The Hockey News ranked him # 36 on the list of the NHL's Greatest Players.
Inducted into Hall of Fame: 1961 Maple Leaf Stanley Cups won: 1
Honourable Mention: Harvey "Busher" Jackson, Joe Primeau, King Clancy
1940-49 SYL APPS
Career Maple Leafs Regular Season Stats: GP- 423 G- 201 A- 231 PTS- 432
Career Maple Leaf Playoff Stats: GP- 69 G- 25 A- 29 PTS- 54
Apps came into the league flying and captured the Calder trophy as the NHL rookie of the year in 1937 and then added the Lady Byng trophy in 1942. Apps Captained the Greatest comeback in Stanley Cup history when the Maple Leafs came back from being down three games to none against Detroit to win four straight and capturethe Cup in 1941-42. This feat has never been accomplished again in an NHL Final. Apps was also selected to the end of the season All Star team five times, twice as the first team center and three times as the second team center.
The Hockey News ranked him # 33 on the list of the NHL's Greatest Players.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame: 1961 Maple Leaf Stanley Cup wins: 3
Honourable Mention: Turk Broda, Babe Pratt, Ted Kennedy
1950-59 TED "TEEDER" KENNEDY
Career Maple Leaf Regular Season Stats: GP- 696 G- 231 A- 329 PTS- 560
Career Maple Leaf Playoff Stats: GP- 78 G- 29 A- 31 PTS- 60
Kennedy had the luxury of playing almost two decades as a member of the Maple Leafs in the 40's and 50's. Kennedy still holds the Maple Leaf record for most points in the Stanley Cup Final Series with 23 points in 26 games played. Kennedy captured the Hart Trophy awarded to the leagues MVP in 1955 and was named to the end of the year All Star team three times all as a second line center.
The Hockey News ranked him # 57 on the list of the NHL's Greatest Players.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame: 1966 Maple Leaf Stanley Cup wins: 5
Honourable Mention: Sid Smith, Dick Duff, Tim Horton, Tod Sloan
1960-69 DAVE KEON
Career Maple Leaf Regular Season Stats: GP- 1062 G- 365 A- 493 PTS- 858
Career Maple Leaf Playoff Stats: GP- 89 G- 32 A- 35 PTS- 67
Keon is said by many to be the Greatest Toronto Maple Leaf of All Time. Keon is the Leaf t capture the most NHL hardware winning the Calder Trophy in 1961, the Lady Byng trophy in 1962 and 1963 as well as capturing the 1967 Conn Smythe trophy as the playoff MVP. Keon was also selected to the end of the season All Star team on two occasions, both times as the second team's center. Keon was a tough as nails player and had one of the Greatest shutdown performances in Stanley Cup history when kept Montreal's Jean Beliveau off the scoresheet in the last two games of the teams 1966-67 Stanley Cup win. Keon also had eleven 20+ goal seasons as a Leaf.
The Hockey News ranked him # 69 on the list of the NHL's Greatest Players.
Inducted into Hall of Fame: 1986 Maple Leaf Stanley Cup wins: 4
Honourable Mention: Frank Mahovlich, George Armstrong, Johnny Bower, Red Kelly
1970-79 DARRYL SITTLER
Career Maple Leaf Regular Season Stats: GP- 844 G- 389 A- 527 PTS- 916
Career Maple Leaf Playoff Stats: GP- 64 G- 25 A- 40 PTS- 65
Sittler will always be remembered in Toronto for his still standing NHL record 10 point performance against the Boston Bruins where Sittler scored 6 goals and added 4 assists. Sittler holds the Leaf record for career hat tricks in a season with 18 and was the first Maple Leaf to pass the 100 point plateau, he did this twice and scored over 40+ goals on four occasions. Sittler was named to the end of season All Star team as the second line center in 1977-78.
The Hockey News ranked him # 93 on the list of the NHL's Greatest Players.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame: 1989 Maple Leaf Stanley Cup wins: 0
Honourable Mention: Borje Salming, Lanny McDonald, Ian Turnbull, Norm Ullman
1980-89 RICK VAIVE
Career Maple Leaf Regular Season Stats: GP- 534 G- 299 A- 238 PTS- 537
Career Maple Leaf Playoff Stats: GP- 32 G- 14 A- 9 PTS- 23
Vaive was the first Maple Leaf to ever crack the 50 goal plateau completing this accomplishment in three consecutive seasons with 54, 51 and 52 goals scored. The 80's were one of the teams most difficult decades but you could always count on Vaive flying in from the wing and letting a slapshot go past the opposing netminders. Vaive scored 10 career hat tricks with Toronto and currently sits 10th on the Maple Leafs all time scoring list.
Inducted into Hall of Fame: No Maple Leaf Stanley Cup wins: 0
Honourable Mention: Gary Leeman, Bill Derlago, John Anderson, Al Iafrate
1990-99 DOUG GILMOUR
Career Maple Leaf Regular Season Stats: GP- 393 G- 131 A- 321 PTS- 452
Career Maple Leaf Playoff Stats: GP- 52 G- 17 A- 60 PTS- 77
Gilmour took Toronto by storm, has any one player done as much with the team in only five season. Gilmour took the team to within one game of the Stanley Cup final in 1992-93 the closest the team has come since winning the cup in 1966-67. Gilmour is the Leafs All Time playoff scoring leader and holds the single season record for most points when he earned 127 also in the 1992-93 season. Gilmour also holds the single season record for most assists with 95 and the single season record for playoff points with 35. Gilmour went on to capture the Frank J Selke trophy in the 1992-93 season a the leagues best defensive forward. Gilmour was all heart and none of us will forget the double overtime wrap around goal in the playoffs against the St. Louis Blues. Gilmour is currently on the Hall of Fame ballet and sits 17th in All Time NHL scoring.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame: No Maple Leaf Stanley Cup wins: 0
Honourable Mention: Wendel Clark, Felix Potvin, Dave Andreychuk, Mats Sundin
2000-09 MATS SUNDIN
Career Maple Leaf Regular Season Stats: GP- 981 G- 420 A- 567 PTS- 987
Career Maple Leaf Playoff Stats: GP- 77 G- 32 A- 38 PTS- 70
Sundin is the Maple Leafs All Time Regular Season scoring leader. The Swede sits first in goals and points and for many seasons did not play with the most skilled of Leafs. Sundin has been selected to the NHL All Star game a team record nine times and was selected to the end of season All Star team twice as the second team center. Sundin holds numerous other Leaf records which include leading the team in regular season scoring ten times, most game winning goals with 79, most overtime winners 12, most 30 goal seasons with 10 to name a few more. Sundin will be looking to enter the Hall of Fame in the future as he currently sits 25th on the NHL All Time scoring list.
Inducted into Hall of Fame: No Maple Leaf Stanley Cup Wins: 0
Honourable Mention: Tomas Kaberle, Gary Roberts, Darcy Tucker, Curtis Joseph
We dont want to end this blog without mentioning two other Leaf Greats, one who's career was cut short due to a hit during a game and another who's life was cut short because of a plane crash. Ace Bailey and Bill Barilko the only two Maple Leafs two have their numbers retired on the team. The #5 and #6 will not be worn again for the Toronto Maple Leafs in their honour.
This research was great to complete and share with all the Maple Leaf and hockey fans out there and to see how many Leaf Greats put on the blue and white sweater, makes you proud to be a fan and I know that at the moment this organization is not where we as fans would like them to be but the next Leaf Great cant be that far off and hopefully the Glory of the Past will be rekindled once again.