TORONTO (Feb. 1) — We’re looking at a dead heat for No. 1 news story in North America right now between the Iowa Caucus on Monday and the unveiling of the new Toronto Maple Leafs logo on Tuesday. In Des Moines, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are prevailing, but not around here.
After all, what could be more important? Delegates voting to help determine a new president of the United States, or the patch that will adorn the Maple Leafs jersey when Mike Babcock finally ends our interminable Stanley Cup drought sometime in the next seven years? This, my friends, is a rhetorical question.
A licensing bird–dog of mine, in Nashville this weekend for the National Hockey League All–Star gathering, claims that the vaunted website Icethetics.co has “pretty much nailed” the new design. It will be officially disclosed Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. EST on The Leaf: Blueprint — a Leafs–TV show (also on TSN–4) produced by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. Here is the composition created by Icethetics.co:
As we’ve been speculating around here for months, it is rather similar to the version worn by the Maple Leafs from 1963–64 through to the conclusion of the 1966–67 regular season — a 35–point logo with the city’s name slightly off–centered at the top, as per the white road jersey:
There was no grand announcement the last time the Leafs underwent such a change. In fact, the Toronto hockey logo routinely varied between 1964 and 1970, with four amendments. The most recent renovation is a blight on the franchise, for Harold Ballard’s eyeful in October 1970 has shepherded the club through more than four–and–a–half decades of oblivion. Though worn proudly by such Leaf legends as Darryl Sittler, Lanny McDonald, Borje Salming, Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark and Mats Sundin, the club did not play for the Stanley Cup — venturing closest in the spring of 1993, when Gilmour, Clark and Co. advanced to Game 7 of the Campbell Conference final before bowing to Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings.
The “Ballard” logo debuted on the Leafs 1970–71 media guide:
The Leafs wore the new logo for the first time on their white uniform during the 1970–71 home opener against St. Louis, at Maple Leaf Gardens, on Oct. 14, 1970 (Toronto Star newspaper story, below, from my scrapbook). The blue road uniform wouldn’t debut until a Nov. 15, 1970 game at Madison Square Garden between the Leafs and New York Rangers. For the first seven road games of 1970–71, the club wore its blue home jersey from the previous year. The NHL switched in ’70–71 to teams wearing predominantly white at home and colored jerseys on the road — a rule that would prevail until the start of 2003–04.
Beginning in the 1967 Stanley Cup playoffs and continuing for three seasons of the expanded, 12–team NHL (until the end of 1969–70), the Maple Leafs wore this home jersey and logo. It was used on the road to start 1970–71 and has been — since 2011–12 — the club’s third, or alternate, uniform:
The Maple Leafs had a grand opportunity to ditch the “Ballard” logo just two years after the owner’s death in 1990, when the club last re–designed its uniform. Instead, the 1970 emblem prevailed on the jerseys worn, for the first time, during the 1992–93 season — the change, below, as per nhluniforms.com:
The first uniform re–design since 1992 and the first logo amendment since 1970 begins a new era for the Maple Leafs 100th anniversary season in 2016–17. We’ll have the details late Tuesday.
In the meantime, I’m going with Trump and Sanders in Iowa.