TORONTO (May 15) — It has been more than two months since the Toronto Maple Leafs played a game, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2–1, at Scotiabank Arena on Mar. 10, two days before the National Hockey League responded to the COVID–19 pandemic by suspending activity. When we’ll next see the boys in blue and white is a matter of speculation. Certainly not anytime soon with fans in attendance.
While the majority of NHL’ers polled during the health crisis seem anxious to resume competition, two prominent players have come out on the side of caution. Mitch Marner of the Leafs and Max Domi of Montreal offered a moral compass this week — at a time when Commissioner Gary Bettman seemed to be altering his opinion. On Apr. 11, Bettman told NBC Sports that completing the 2019–20 regular season “may not be possible”; an assertion he repeated elsewhere. Then, yesterday, speaking at a virtual town–hall event sponsored by the San Jose Sharks, the Commish announced he had “no plans” to cancel the last portion of the schedule. “I believe that if the right time comes, and the right circumstances, based on all of the options that we’re considering and our ability to execute them, we’ll get this season done,” Bettman said, adding that cancelling is “too easy a solution.” Gary, of course, is likely being pulled in opposite directions by the medical community and the NHL owners, for which he works. So, it’s not unusual to hear conflicting opinions.
Marner and Domi, however, spoke with clarity and concern over the coronavirus, which has not been slowed by anything except social distancing and business closure. No therapeutic compound or vaccine has emerged since the NHL shut down. “What my thought on this is, okay, I’m all down for starting everything back up, let’s rock. But what if someone gets sick and dies?” Marner asked on a video posted via Twitter. “What happens? It’s awful to think about… but still.” As it pertains to Domi, his ex–Junior teammate in London who has Type 1 Diabetes, Marner said, “if he gets it (the virus), he is in one (situation)… like bad.”
MITCH MARNER (LEFT) AND MAX DOMI IN THEIR JUNIOR DAYS WITH THE OHL’s LONDON KNIGHTS.
To which Domi responded (on ESPN.com): “Being a Type 1 diabetic, it’s something that raises some concern. But you really don’t know how everyone’s going to be affected by this disease. Being a Type 1 doesn’t change much. I would handle myself the same way as if I didn’t have [diabetes],” he said. “Everyone is obviously a little on edge about this and worried about getting the disease or [infecting] someone they know. Everyone wants to play hockey. No one wants to be put in a position where we’re in danger of putting others in danger. If it’s safe, every player would want to play.” The key word for Domi, undoubtedly, being “if…”
Domi concluded with a statement that those in the NHL concerned more about economics might heed: “Everyone is affected by this in their own way. A lot of people have been struggling. A lot of people have suffered loss. It’s been a really tough time for everyone, and you have to be sensitive to that. You have to understand that this is very real. People have gotten sick from this. People have died from this. All you can really do is do your part, stay at home, stay safe and be respectful of rules put in place.”
I’ve made my position known with respect to returning… and to the absurdity of playing in empty arenas. The latter is a silly, desperate idea that will cheapen the sport. Doubly so if artificial crowd–noise is superimposed on a telecast. Hockey fans that are yearning for the game will recognize the futility of such a venture. And, the NHL, in my view, will fully regret the decision. Same goes for baseball in empty stadiums.
The world has been ravaged by an unseen, barely controllable enemy. Risking even one life for the purpose of entertainment is ill–advised and foolish. Keep professional sport mothballed until it is again safe to enjoy in a familiar environment. For whatever length of time is required. The alternative could amount to suicide.
For those that zealously follow the Maple Leafs and are seeking a “fix”, I have compiled, here, some up–to–date minutiae regarding your favorite hockey club. Call it “Maple Leafs University”. Study this information carefully. There could be a test at any time:
FULL REGULAR SEASON (minimum 70 games)
Last time the Leafs…
PLAYED 84 GAMES: 1993–94 (2 neutral–site).
PLAYED 80 GAMES: 1991–92.
PLAYED 78 GAMES: 1973–74.
PLAYED 76 GAMES: 1969–70.
PLAYED 74 GAMES: 1967–68.
PLAYED 70 GAMES: 1966–67 and 2019–20*.
*TOTAL WHEN SEASON WAS SUSPENDED
WON 50 GAMES: Never.
LOST 50 GAMES: 1984–85 (20–52–8).
WON 40 GAMES: 2018–19 (46–28–8).
LOST 40 GAMES: 2015–16 (29–42–11).
SCORED 300 GOALS: 1989–90 (337).
ALLOWED 300 GOALS: 1990–91 (318).
WON SIX CONSECUTIVE GAMES: Dec. 14–27, 2019.
LOST SIX CONSECUTIVE GAMES: Nov. 9–19, 2019 (0–5–1).
WON SIX CONSECUTIVE IN REGULATION TIME: Nov. 27–Dec. 6, 2003.
LOST SIX CONSECUTIVE IN REGULATION TIME: Mar. 14–26, 2015.
WON ON OPENING NIGHT: 2019–20 (Oct. 2) vs. Ottawa at Scotiabank Arena (5–3).
LOST ON OPENING NIGHT: 2016–17 (Oct. 12) at Ottawa (5–4 OT).
RECORDED AN OPENING–NIGHT SHUTOUT: 2011–12 (Oct. 6) vs. Montreal at Air Canada Centre (2–0).
GOT SHUT OUT ON OPENING NIGHT: 2003–04 (Oct. 11) by Montreal at Air Canada Centre (4–0).
WON IN OVERTIME ON OPENING NIGHT: 2018–19 (Oct. 3) vs. Montreal at Scotiabank Arena (3–2).
LOST IN OVERTIME ON OPENING NIGHT: 2016–17 (Oct. 12) at Ottawa (5–4).
WON IN A SHOOTOUT ON OPENING NIGHT: 2013–14 (Oct. 5) vs. Ottawa at Air Canada Centre (5–4).
LOST IN A SHOOTOUT ON OPENING NIGHT: 2005–06 (Oct. 5) vs. Ottawa at Air Canada Centre (4–3).
PLAYED TEAM OTHER THAN OTTAWA OR MONTREAL ON OPENING NIGHT: 2017–18 (Oct. 4) at Winnipeg (won 7–2).
PLAYED TEAM OTHER THAN OTTAWA OR MONTREAL IN HOME OPENER: 2017–18 (Oct. 7) vs. New York Rangers at Air Canada Centre (won 8–5).
SCORED 14 GOALS IN A GAME: Mar. 16, 1957 vs. New York Rangers at Maple Leaf Gardens (won 14–1).
ALLOWED 14 GOALS IN A GAME: Mar. 19, 1981 at Buffalo (lost 14–4).
SCORED 13 GOALS IN A GAME: Jan. 2, 1971 vs. Detroit at Maple Leaf Gardens (won 13–0).
SCORED AT LEAST 10 GOALS IN A GAME: Jan. 4, 2007 at Boston (won 10–4).
ALLOWED AT LEAST 10 GOALS IN A GAME: Dec. 26, 1991 at Pittsburgh (lost 12–1).
SCORED 10 GOALS ON OPENING NIGHT: 1978–79 (Oct. 14) vs. New York Islanders at Maple Leaf Gardens (won 10–7).
ALLOWED 10 GOALS ON OPENING NIGHT: Never.
SCORED NINE GOALS IN A GAME: Jan. 7, 2011 at Atlanta (won 9–3).
ALLOWED NINE GOALS IN A GAME: Nov. 18, 2014 vs. Nashville at Air Canada Centre (lost 9–2).
WON A GAME ON NEW YEAR’S EVE: Dec. 31, 2019 at Minnesota (4–1).
LOST A GAME ON NEW YEAR’S EVE: Dec. 31, 2017 at Vegas (6–3).
WON A GAME ON JAN. 1: 2017 vs. Detroit (Heritage Classic at BMO Field — 5–4 OT).
LOST A GAME ON JAN. 1: 2009 vs. Buffalo at Air Canada Centre (4–1).
WON A LEAP–YEAR NIGHT GAME: (Feb. 29): 2020 vs. Vancouver at Scotiabank Arena (4–2).
LOST A LEAP–YEAR NIGHT GAME: (Feb. 29): 2016 vs. Tampa Bay at Air Canada Centre (2–1).
WON A GAME ON CHRISTMAS EVE: 1969 vs. Los Angeles at Maple Leaf Gardens (8–1).
LOST A GAME ON CHRISTMAS EVE: 1972 at Chicago (5–1).
WON A GAME ON CHRISTMAS DAY: 1971 vs. Detroit at Maple Leaf Gardens (5–1).
LOST A GAME ON CHRISTMAS DAY: 1970 at Minnesota (6–3).
WON ON APRIL FOOL’S DAY: Apr. 1, 2019 at New York Islanders (2–1).
LOST ON APRIL FOOL’S DAY: Apr. 1, 2015 at Buffalo (4–3).
RECORDED A SHUTOUT TO END THE SEASON: 2003–04 (Apr. 3) at Ottawa (6–0).
WERE SHUT OUT TO END THE SEASON: 2013–14 (Apr. 12) vs. Ottawa at Air Canada Centre (1–0).
RECORDED CONSECUTIVE SHUTOUTS: Jan. 31 & Feb. 1, 2018 — 5–0 vs. New York Islanders at Air Canada Centre / 4–0 at New York Rangers.
WERE SHUT OUT CONSECUTIVELY: Feb. 28 & Mar. 1, 2015 — 4–0 at Montreal and Washington.
1970–71. PITTSBURGH AT TORONTO. LEFT–TO–RIGHT: AL SMITH, JIM HARRISON, BOB BLACKBURN.
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
Last Time the Leafs…
WON THE STANLEY CUP: May 2, 1967 in Game 6 against Montreal at Maple Leaf Gardens.
LOST THE STANLEY CUP FINAL: Apr. 14, 1960 in Game 4 to Montreal at Maple Leaf Gardens.
APPEARED IN A PLAYOFF GAME: Apr. 23, 2019 at Boston, losing 5–1 in Game 7 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
WON A PLAYOFF GAME: Apr. 19, 2019 at Boston, winning 2–1 in Game 5 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
WON A PLAYOFF SERIES: Apr. 20, 2004, over Ottawa at Air Canada Centre in Game 7 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
WON A PLAYOFF GAME IN OVERTIME: Apr. 17, 2017, over Washington at Air Canada Centre in Game 4 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal (Tyler Bozak beat Braden Holtby).
WON A PLAYOFF SERIES WITH AN OVERTIME GOAL: May 17, 1999, at Pittsburgh in Game 6 of an Eastern Conference semifinal (Garry Valk beat Tom Barrasso).
LOST A PLAYOFF SERIES WITH AN OVERTIME GOAL: Apr. 23, 2017, vs. Washington at Air Canada Centre in Game 6 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal (Marcus Johansson beat Frederik Andersen).
RECORDED A PLAYOFF SHUT–OUT: Apr. 16, 2004, over Ottawa at Air Canada Centre in Game 5 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal (Ed Belfour).
WERE SHUT OUT IN A PLAYOFF GAME: May 23, 2002, by Carolina at Air Canada Centre in Game 4 of an Eastern Conference final (Arturs Irbe).
SCORED 10 OR MORE GOALS IN A PLAYOFF GAME: Never.
ALLOWED 10 OR MORE GOALS IN A PLAYOFF GAME: Apr. 2, 1969, at Boston in Game 1 of a Stanley Cup quarterfinal (10–0 loss).
SCORED NINE GOALS IN A PLAYOFF GAME: Apr. 14, 1942, against Detroit at Maple Leaf Gardens in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final (9–3 win).
ALLOWED NINE GOALS IN A PLAYOFF GAME: Apr. 8, 1981, at New York Islanders in Game 1 of a best–of–five preliminary round (9–2 loss).
SCORED EIGHT GOALS IN A PLAYOFF GAME: May 8, 1994, at San Jose in Game 4 of a Western Conference semifinal (8–3 win).
SCORED ON A PLAYOFF PENALTY SHOT: Apr. 11, 2019, at Boston in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal (Mitch Marner beat Tuukka Rask).
SCORED UPON BY A PLAYOFF PENALTY SHOT: Apr. 24, 2002, at New York Islanders in Game 4 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal (Shawn Bates beat Curtis Joseph).
RECORDED A PLAYOFF HATTRICK: Apr. 9, 2003, at Philadelphia in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal (Alexander Mogilny).
WON A 1–0 PLAYOFF GAME IN OVERTIME: Apr. 13, 2001, at Ottawa in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal (Mats Sundin beat Patrick Lalime).
LOST A 1–0 PLAYOFF GAME IN OVERTIME: Apr. 9, 1950, at Detroit in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup semifinals (Leo Reise beat Turk Broda).
SWEPT A BEST–OF–SEVEN SERIES: vs. Ottawa in 2001 Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
GOT SWEPT IN A BEST–OF–SEVEN SERIES: vs. Montreal in 1979 Stanley Cup quarterfinal.
WON THE STANLEY CUP IN OVERTIME: Apr. 21, 1951, vs. Montreal at Maple Leaf Gardens in Game 5 (Bill Barilko beat Gerry McNeil).
LOST THE STANLEY CUP IN OVERTIME: Apr. 13, 1940, vs. New York Rangers at Maple Leaf Gardens in Game 6 (Bryan Hextall beat Turk Broda).
WON A PLAYOFF SERIES AGAINST A FORMER TEAM: 1979, vs. Atlanta Flames, sweeping a best–of–three preliminary round.
LOST A PLAYOFF SERIES AGAINST A FORMER TEAM: 1983, vs. Minnesota North Stars, 3–1 in games of a best–of–five preliminary round.
1974–75. KANSAS CITY SCOUTS AT TORONTO. LEFT–TO–RIGHT: ERROL THOMPSON, BRENT HUGHES, DENIS HERRON.
THOSE GREEN SEALS — in Black & White
From a binder of individual player photographs in my collection, the evolution of hockey’s favorite defunct team — the California Seals (October–December 1967); Oakland Seals (December 1967 to April 1970); California Golden Seals (1970–71 to 1975–76):
Joining the NHL as part of the Great Expansion in 1967–68, the California Seals began with a stylized ‘C’ logo (above and below) — home home uniform green with blue and white stripes.
Drawing poorly at the Oakland Coliseum–Arena, the hockey club chose to drop “California” and become the Oakland Seals at the beginning of December 1967. The ‘C’ logo was simply filled in to become a stylized ‘O’ (as seen above and below).
For the Seals third season in the NHL (1969–70), a white shoulder–stripe was added to the home–green jersey (as seen above and below). A white stripe was also added to each sleeve.
During their final two seasons in Oakland, the Seals wore home–white jerseys (above and below) with “Pacific Blue” pants and “California Gold” striping on the shoulders and socks. The “Pacific Blue” was essentially turquoise, a departure from the Kelly Green of prior years.