Toronto is a Maple Leafs Town

Toronto is a Maple Leafs Town

Posted on November 15 by Eric Zweig in Non-fiction
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In 100 years since the league was formed in November 1917, Toronto has had just one NHL team. True, it’s been known by three different names, but there’s been just the one NHL franchise in all that time.

In recent years, there’s been lots of talk that the Greater Toronto Area could support a second NHL team. It was in the news a lot back in 2014 when the process began that would eventually land a team in Las Vegas this season. Toronto mayor John Tory spoke favourably about the city being able to support a second team in February 2015, although he noted that he wasn't about to begin campaigning for one. Later that year, there was talk of building a new arena in the city of Markham and the possibility of bidding on an NHL team there.

Speculation about a second NHL team in the Toronto area was at its peak when the Maple Leafs were terrible. Fans could imagine the fun of building a successful new franchise that would give the old one a run for its money. But with the excitement of last season generating huge hopes for this one and the belief that the first Stanley Cup championship since 1967 is no longer an impossible dream, you don't hear nearly as much of that talk anymore. Sure, Southern Ontario could probably support a second NHL club … but who's going to bail on the Maple Leafs now to cheer for an expansion team?

Further clouding the issue, of course, is the belief that Maple Leafs ownership has long been opposed to anyone putting a second team in the area. (OK, maybe long-suffering fans in Hamilton would dump the Leafs for a new team in their city!) The Leafs, in fact, have been blocking these efforts for at least 86 years.

On January 20, 1931 – just days after announcing plans to build a new arena that would become Maple Leaf Gardens – Conn Smythe addressed rumours that the struggling Ottawa Senators might move to Toronto and become a second tenant in Smythe’s new rink:

“The Maple Leaf hockey club intends to control the National Hockey League situation in this city for years to come. There is not a chance for the Ottawa franchise to be transferred here as a second club. We are building the new arena for the sole purpose of developing the Maple Leafs into a world's championship hockey club.”

Smythe accomplished his goal, and Toronto has been a Maple Leafs town ever since.

Eric Zweig

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014
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Eric Zweig

Eric Zweig is a managing editor with Dan Diamond & Associates, producers of the annual NHL Official Guide & Record Book since 1984. Eric’s books include Twenty Greatest Hockey Goals and Art Ross: The Hockey Legend Who Built the Bruins. He lives in Owen Sound, Ontario.