NHL - ATLANTIC
Arena: Air Canada Centre
Coach: Sheldon Keefe
2021-2022 TEAM LEADERS
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs are an NHL team currently playing in the Atlantic Division based in Toronto, Ontario. The Leafs joined the league as an Original Six franchise, participating in the first ever NHL game against the Ottawa Senators in 1917. Though Toronto technically has the second most cups out of any franchise at 13, the Leafs currently have the longest active cup drought in the NHL having won their last cup all the way back in 1967.
Currently, the Leafs have assembled a very impressive top six after drafting forwards such as Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander. Combined with big free agency signings like the current captain of the team, John Tavares, Toronto has become a very good regular season squad- despite this, the Leafs have yet to win a single playoff series since 2004, finding nothing but heartbreaking playoff losses and blown leads since then.
The Leafs are coming off of winning the all-Canadian North Division in 2021, losing 4-3 to the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs after blowing a 3-1 lead.
The Leafs joined the league in 1917, alongside the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, and Montreal Maroons. Interestingly enough, the Leafs were unnamed for the first few decades of existence, known instead as the “Torontos,” “Blueshirts (a name that would later be adopted by the New York Rangers),” “Arenas,” and “St. Pats.” The team officially adopted the name “Maple Leafs” in 1927, already winning two cups in the process.
Toronto would go on to win 11 more cups between 1932-1967, winning their last championship just before the initial year of the NHL expansion- as such, the Leafs have never won a cup outside of the Original Six era.
The Leafs would continue to show up in the playoffs on a semi-regular basis after the NHL expansion, but had trouble finding success beyond the first two rounds. Toronto would lose four conference finals series between 1993 and 2002, followed by their most recent playoff series win in 2004 just before the NHL lockout. Since then, the Leafs have made the playoffs on six different occasions, losing in the first round every time.
2022 Key Stats
Toronto is once again looking like a lock-in for a top three spot in the top heavy Atlantic Division, but most Leafs fans are probably tired of only regular season success. The Leafs have a lot to play for after blowing a 3-1 series lead to the lowest seeded archrivals Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs last year (not to mention the fact that they went on to make it to the finals). Toronto has been dealing with some frustrating injuries and Covid protocol for key players throughout the season, but has managed to stay afloat thanks to the contributions of new players such as Michael Bunting and Jason Spezza.
Unsurprisingly, Auston Matthews is the leader of the team with 25 goals and 16 assists in 35 games played. Despite being in and out of the lineup at times this season, Matthews has continued to be a scoring machine and is currently ranked fourth in the league for goals. William Nylander is next for team scoring with 38 points in 38 games. The captain, John Tavares, is another player nearly at a point-per-game with 36 points in 37 games. If it wasn’t obvious, the Leafs’ top six has been having a fantastic year and is one of the most dangerous forward groups in the league.
Mitch Marner has been affected by injury and Covid protocol the most, playing only 29 games so far. Despite this, he still has 26 points and is yet another player at nearly a point-per-game pace.
Goaltending has been solid with Jack Campbell, who currently has a record of 19-6-3 and a SV% of .927.
Championships Won by the Team
Toronto is behind only the Montreal Canadiens in total Stanley Cup wins at 13, but the franchise is notorious these days for being one of the least successful postseason teams in the league. Toronto’s last playoff series win came in 2004 over the Ottawa Senators in the first round before losing 4-2 to the Flyers in the conference semifinals.
Since then, the Leafs have been synonymous with failed expectations and shocking blown leads. In 2013, the Leafs had a 3-1 lead in game seven against the Boston Bruins halfway through the third period. Boston came back to tie the game with two goals in the last two minutes, winning the game (and series) in overtime. The Leafs would go on to lose two more game sevens against the Bruins in 2018 and 2019.
The team would play the Columbus Blue Jackets in the play-in round of the 2020 playoffs with a massive rally to overcome a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3 in overtime and force a game five- only to lose 3-0 in the elimination game.
The most recent playoff loss was so brutal, it deserves it’s own section. Sorry, Leafs fans!
Important Team Events
The 2020-2021 season was an anomaly for the league, especially for the Canadian division. Because of travel restrictions set by the Canadian government, teams were unable to cross the border during the regular season. As a result, all the Canadian teams were grouped into the Northern Division, playing one another exclusively for the entire year.
Because of the creation of the Northern Division, a Canadian team was guaranteed to make at least the Conference Finals, giving Canada a shot at its first cup since Montreal won in 1993. Toronto took the division as the clear frontrunner for cup contention, winning the division with a record of 35-14-7 with a matchup against the 31-31-9 Montreal Canadiens.
Toronto took an early 3-1 series lead, looking like they would finally win their first playoff series in a decade and a half with a clear shot at the Stanley Cup finals. After a dominant 4-0 win in game four, the series looked all but over. Unfortunately, this wasn’t quite the case.
Toronto would go on to lose games five and six in overtime, giving the Canadiens a shot at the dreaded game seven. With their backs against the wall and Montreal riding all the momentum, the Leafs laid a total egg with a 3-1 loss, losing the series and blowing yet another playoff lead.
One of the top players in Maple Leafs franchise history is easily Mats Sundin. Mats Sundin played with the Leafs from 1994-2008, setting the franchise record for goals (420) and points (987) during his tenure with the team- unfortunately, he would never hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup in his career. Nevertheless, Sundin is considered one of the greatest Leafs in franchise history.
Current players such as Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander are undoubtedly going to be remembered as some of the best Leafs in recent history as well- for instance, Matthews has already amassed 392 points in his first 369 games, with 224 of those points being goals.
Mitch Marner is in a similar boat with a point-per-game pace in his young career, with 384 points in 384 games so far. While Börje Salming is the franchise leader in assists at 620, Marner will likely pass him (or come close) with 272 career assists already under his belt.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have had 40 coaches in franchise history (not including the seasons prior to being named Toronto in 1927) and are currently coached by Sheldon Keefe. Keefe took over for the franchise as head coach after the departure of Mike Babcock in 2019 after allegations of abusive behavior in the locker room.
Punch Imlach is the longest tenured coach in franchise history, coaching 760 total games between 1958-1969, finishing his career with a total record of 365-270-125 and a playoff record of 44-45. Imlach would win four Stanley Cups for Toronto, including three straight between 1962-1964 and their most recent win in 1967.
Hap Day is the other most successful coach in the history of the Leafs, coaching the team from 1940-1950 in 546 games. Day would finish with a record of 259-206-81 and a playoff record of 49-31. Day would win five cups in his 10 year stay, winning in 1942, 1945, 1947, 1948, and 1949.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Leafs are an Original Six team, joining the NHL upon the league’s formation in 1917. However, Toronto would not receive their team identity as the Leafs until 1927.
Mats Sundin leads the franchise in goals and points, but players like Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are on pace to set new records should they remain with the organization.
The Leafs have won the cup 13 total times.
The Leafs have not won a series since 2004 against the Ottawa Senators.
As an Original Six team, the Leafs’ biggest rivals are the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens due to a long shared history and over 100 years of playoff matchups. The Leafs also share the province of Ontario with the Ottawa Senators.