By HOWARD BERGER
TORONTO (Aug. 19) — Taking a page from their most storied rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs will brandish a number of historic uniforms during their 100th anniversary season in 2016–17. Two licensing sources tell me the Maple Leafs have decided to replicate what the Montreal Canadiens did for their Centennial celebration in 2008–09.
“The Canadiens brought back five uniforms from their past and I’m expecting the Leafs to do the same,” said one of my sources. “Exactly which five have yet to be determined, but you can put money on something from the very early days of the franchise — perhaps the Toronto Arenas blue jersey — and likely a blue version of the 1964–1967 design, with the five-point logo. Considering the re–designed uniform for 1970–71 was worn for more than a decade, it, too, should be included.”
AN ADVERTISEMENT FROM 2008–09 SHOWING THE FIVE HISTORIC JERSEYS WORN THAT SEASON BY THE MONTREAL CANADIENS FOR THEIR CENTENNIAL COMMEMORATION.
This jersey bonanza will, of course, become another cash cow forMaple Leaf Sports and Entertainment — as it should. MLSE has done a terrific job of honoring the hockey team’s past; mainly because there’s been nothing at all to recently celebrate. But, terrific, nonetheless. The 2016–17 season will mark the 100th anniversary of the National Hockey League (formed in November 1917). The Toronto Arenas — forerunner to the St. Patricks and Maple Leafs — were among the four original teams in 1917–18, along with the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers and Ottawa Senators. Westmount Arena, home of the Wanderers, burned down after only six games of the 22–game schedule and the franchise was forced to disband. The Arenas won the Stanley Cup, defeating Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association.
It wasn’t until midway through the 1926–27 season (Valentine’s Day 1927, to be exact) that Conn Smythe purchased the Toronto St. Patricks and re–named the club Maple Leafs. There is, of course, only one site on the World Wide Web that contains a database of hockey jerseys from the beginning of time: Andrew M. Greenstien’snhluniforms.com. I will again borrow from Andrew’s marvelous website to illustrate which jerseys the Maple Leafs are most likely to feature in their Centennial celebration.
THIS IS THE UNIFORM WORN ORIGINALLY BY THE TORONTO NHL FRANCHISE IN 1917–18 AND MY SOURCE EXPECTS IT TO BE AMONG THE FIVE DESIGNS CHOSEN FOR 2016–17.
ON MAR. 2, 2002 — TO COMMEMORATE THEIR 75th ANNIVERSARY — THE LEAFS WORE THE TORONTO ST. PATRICKS JERSEY (TOP–LEFT) DURING A GAME AGAINST THE BUFFALO SABRES AT AIR CANADA CENTRE (MATS SUNDIN PHOTO AND JERSEY, BELOW). AS PART OF THE FIVE CENTENNIAL DESIGNS, THE CLUB COULD ADOPT THE WHITE ST. PATRICK’S JERSEY (TOP–RIGHT), WORN FROM 1922–1925, THE YEAR BEFORE IT BECAME THE MAPLE LEAFS.
THE ORIGINAL MAPLE LEAFS JERSEY (ABOVE) — WORN IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE 1926–27 SEASON — IS LIKELY TOO PLAIN TO BE INCLUDED IN THE FIVE CENTENNIAL DESIGNS.
LEAFS WORE THE BLUE JERSEY (TOP–ABOVE) DURING THE BRIDGESTONE WINTER CLASSICOUTDOOR GAME IN ANN ARBOR, MICH. ON JAN. 1, 2014 FOR A MEETING WITH DETROIT RED WINGS (PHOTO OF NAZEM KADRI AND JONATHAN BERNIER, BELOW). IT HAS ALREADY BEEN SOLD AND IS THEREFORE UNLIKELY TO BE PART OF THE CENTENNIAL–FIVE SET.
AS AN ALTERNATIVE, THE LEAFS COULD TURN TO THE WHITE JERSEY (ABOVE) — WORN BETWEEN 1934 AND 1937 — FOR ONE OF ITS FIVE CENTENNIAL CHOICES.
THE MAPLE LEAFS WORE THE ABOVE JERSEY ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS DURING THE 1991–92 SEASON TO HELP CELEBRATE THE NHL’s 75TH ANNIVERSARY.
MY SOURCE EXPECTS A RE–LAUNCH OF THE BLUE JERSEY (ABOVE) AS PART OF THE CENTENNIAL–FIVE. IT WAS WORN FOR GAMES AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS IN 1964–65, 1965–66 AND THE 1966–67 REGULAR SEASON, BEFORE THE CLUB SWITCHED TO ITS CURRENT ALTERNATE DESIGN. THE WHITE ROAD JERSEY FROM THAT ERA WILL LIKELY NOT BE INCLUDED; IT HAS ALREADY BEEN WORN AS AN ALTERNATE, BEGINNING IN 1998–99 (BELOW) DURING THE FINAL SEASON OF THE GARDENS AND FIRST YEAR OF AIR CANADA CENTRE.
THE MAPLE LEAFS’ CURRENT ALTERNATE JERSEY (OCTOBER 2011 TO TODAY) IS PICTURED HERE AT TOP–LEFT — THE BLUE VERSION WORN AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS BEGINNING WITH THE 1967 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS AND THROUGH THE END OF THE 1969–70 SEASON. YOU CAN BANK ON ONE OF THE TOP–RIGHT JERSEYS BEING INCLUDED IN THE CENTENNIAL–FIVE. IT WAS WORN FROM 1970–71 TO 1991–92 — MOST PROMINENTLY BY SUCH STARS AS DARRYL SITTLER, LANNY McDONALD, BORJE SALMING AND RICK VAIVE.
So, to re–cap, the best bets for the five Centennial throwback jerseys:
- 1917–18 blue Toronto Arenas.
- 1922–25 predominantly white (with green) Toronto St. Patricks.
- 1934–37 predominantly white (with blue) Maple Leafs.
- 1964–67 predominantly blue (with white) Maple Leafs.
- 1970–1992 jersey with the current seven–point logo — blue or white.
I’ll pass on more details as I receive them.
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