From The Globe and Mail – James Mirtle
Even if the roster doesn’t change, the Toronto Maple Leafs will finally look like winners next season.
That’s because they will look very much like the team that was a powerhouse in the six-team NHL for most of a nearly 30-year span.
The Leafs unveiled their new logo on Tuesday night after beating the Boston Bruins 4-3 in overtime, and, as had been widely rumoured, it was essentially a return to an old logo. The newly stylized 31-point maple leaf closely resembles the one the team wore from the 1938-39 season until the end of the Original Six era in 1967.
That was a period of unmatched success for the franchise – 10 Stanley Cup victories, 14 trips to the finals and 114 playoff wins (second to only Montreal) over the 29 seasons – and a far cry from more recent seasons spent in the NHL’s basement.
The switch will be the first major logo change for the Leafs since despised former owner Harold Ballard introduced something similar to the current “modern” one in 1967-68.
In a news release, the team called the 1938-67 maple leaf that inspired the new design “the most iconic and popular logo in team history.”
“We wanted to get back to our roots,” Leafs president Brendan Shanahan explained, “when [original owner] Conn Smythe first changed the logo to the maple leaf in 1927. Inspired by the badge that he and his fellow Canadian soldiers wore during the First World War, Smythe wanted his team to wear the badge with honour, pride and courage.
“This is our goal for the next chapter in Leafs history. We’re committed to restoring the Leafs to a proud and prominent place [in the NHL], and this classic logo will connect the team’s championship legacy to an exciting and proud future.”
The changes from that classic logo are discreet. The new design doesn’t have a border around the logo, for example, in order “to create a cleaner, bolder look.”
The new leaf has 31 points on it – a nod to the opening of Maple Leaf Gardens in 1931 – instead of 35. There are also 13 “veins” at the top of the new leaf – down from 14 – to signify the Leafs’ 13 Stanley Cup wins.
The Toronto Marlies will also get a new logo for next season, one with an identical maple leaf but with the minor-league team’s crown laid on top of it.
The Leafs didn’t reveal their new uniforms, however. For that, fans will have to wait until the draft in Buffalo at the end of June, when the Leafs first-round pick – who will almost certainly be near the top of the draft, given the team’s current record – will be the first to wear the revamped jersey.
The new logo and jersey are timed to coincide with the Maple Leafs centennial season beginning in September, but this will be a permanent change – not a one-season endeavour. It won’t be an entirely foreign look to fans younger than 50, either, as the Leafs had a similar “vintage” logo and uniform as a third jersey between 2000 and 2011.
As for restoring honour, pride and courage to the organization, it’ll take winning more games to accomplish that. The Leafs went into Tuesday night’s game in Boston with the fourth-worst record in the league and sat dead last in wins, with only 17 in 48 games.
The Leafs will almost definitely miss the playoffs for the 10th time in the past 11 years, but this year their failings are part of a rebuilding process under Shanahan, who was hired in April, 2014, to fix the franchise.