The Toronto Maple Leafs were founded in November 1917 and played their first season in 1917-18. Why is 2016-17 the team’s centennial season? Eh, close enough.
The team announced its plans for the centennial on Thursday, and they’re pretty impressive. Let’s take a look, shall we?
“The Toronto Maple Leafs will create new banners to hang in Air Canada Centre to pay tribute to the players that have had their numbers honored. Beginning this summer and throughout the season, the 18 original Air Canada Centre banners will be delivered to the hometowns that produced these players, the greatest in our franchise’s history.”
Hey, this is pretty cool. The original Borje Salming banner shipped back to some shrine in Kiruna, Sweden and the days-long vodka-thon that commences? Solid.
“In the fall, the Leafs will play pre-season games in three (Non-NHL) Canadian cities to give those fans the opportunity to see the team in their own town. On September 26, the Leafs will face the Ottawa Senators in Halifax in pre-season action followed by a tilt versus the Buffalo Sabres in St. Catharines on September 29 and a matchup against the Detroit Red Wings in Hamilton on October 7. Further details, including ticket on-sale dates, will be announced later this month.”
Congratulations to the good fans of Hamilton, who have gone from nearly getting their own team to being honored with a Maple Leafs exhibition game in the span of a decade.
“In October, the team will officially add the latest players to Legends Row, as the statues for Dave Keon, Tim Horton and Turk Broda are publicly unveiled and the three players are immortalized alongside the other Leaf greats featured on the monument including Ted Kennedy, Darryl Sittler, Johnny Bower, Borje Salming, George Armstrong, Syl Apps and Mats Sundin.”
For the uninitiated, Turk Broda is a four-time Stanley Cup winning goalie for the Leafs. And the Tim Horton statue will, in fact, have a perpetually churning Ice Cap machine installed in it.
“Over the course of the next three months, a committee made up of prominent members of the hockey community will determine the official list of the 100 greatest players in Toronto Maple Leafs history. The One Hundred, along with many more Leafs, will be honored throughout the Centennial season.”
Oh, this is going to be fun. Unless they wimp out and make it alphabetical instead of sequential, thus robbing us of the unparalleled glee of watching Wendel Clark and/or Doug Gilmour fans lose their minds over their rankings.
“As previously announced, the Maple Leafs will play host to the NHL Centennial Classic on Sunday, January 1, 2017 at BMO Field as they play host to the Detroit Red Wings in an outdoor game to celebrate the Centennial Anniversary for both the Maple Leafs and the NHL.”
“So it’s the Winter Classic? Because it’s on New Year’s Day?”
“No, the Winter Classic is on Jan. 2 this season. And it can never, ever be in Canada.”
“So it’s the Heritage Classic?”
“No, that’s in Winnipeg this season.”
“How about the Centennial Classic? Does that sound neat?”
“Sure, but wasn’t the centennial of the Montreal Canadiens, the most successful franchise in NHL history, just a few years ago? Why didn’t they get an outdoor…”
“… PLEASE DON’T SPEAK A WORD ABOUT THIS TO THEM.”
“The Maple Leafs will wear commemorative NHL Centennial Classic uniforms to mark the occasion.”
Of course they will. They’re going to have more costume changes than a Gaga show this year.
“As part of the NHL Centennial Classic, the league will announce the players in their Top 100 of all-time who played in the first 50 years of NHL history.”
OK, I take it back: THIS LIST is going to be fun. Especially because they’re mixing goalies with players, and that’s like comparing apples and, like, Volvos.
“The Maple Leafs Centennial festivities will also include an alumni game between the past great players for the Maple Leafs and the Red Wings. The game (date and time to be announced) will see the Leafs alumni team wear special uniforms featuring the team’s Centennial Anniversary logo.”
Not for nothing, but the alumni game in 2014 was tons of fun, if only to see that Nicklas Lidstrom could still win the Norris.
“As part of the NHL Centennial Classic week, the team will host a number of activities to celebrate the anniversary, and the game of hockey, including a New Year’s Eve party and public skates on the ice surface at BMO Field.”
A New Year’s Eve party organized by Lou Lamoriello would definitely involve a pre-fixed menu and sparkling cider toast at midnight.
“In addition to wearing the new Maple Leafs uniforms all season that were unveiled at the 2016 NHL Draft, featuring the team’s new logo, the club will pay tribute to its heritage by wearing Toronto St. Pats uniforms for its home date against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, March 18, 2017. The franchise was called the St. Pats from 1919-1927 before being renamed the Toronto Maple Leafs by Conn Smythe.”
Conn Smythe is also the namesake of the award given to the playoff MVP. Just an FYI for Leafs fans born in the last 45 years.
Well this is going to be a not-at-all annoying year in the Centre of the Hockey Universe, as nostalgic navel-gazing runs head-on into unfettered Auston Matthews joy-gasms. Buckle up.