As we embark on our annual TLN Top 20 Prospects series, it’s important to remember and recognize the special players that paved the way for tomorrow’s stars. Over the next few weeks, we will be announcing our first ever TLN All-Time Greatest Leafs Team, announcing a new player every day until we’ve filled out our 23-man roster.
Coming up with an All-Time team is a real challenge. So many of us have different ideas as to what an All-Time team should be… today’s NHL stars are much, much better athletes, playing a dramatically different brand of hockey than was played back in, say, the 1930s… Are we building the best team possible? Are we considering what players, who might not be the most skilled, contributed and gave to the team and organization? Do we overlook off-ice transgressions?
There are so many different things to consider when building such a team, and it caused a great deal of heated debate and discussion at TLN HQ (which is less a base of operations, more a crude and GIF-filled chat room). Hell, Jeff almost made Jon quit, but then we sent Jeff to Canucks Army and he’s their problem now.
Point is, there’s always going to be controversy with a team like this. The Toronto Maple Leafs have one of the most storied franchises in professional hockey, and while the club has been struggling for well over a decade now, the organization has seen many legends pass through. By the end of this series, there will be controversy (so beware the comments section), and that’s why I’m so glad to be kicking things off tonight with perhaps the easiest player announcement in the series.
When we talk about the greatest Maple Leafs of all-time, Darryl Sittler is always one of the first names that comes up. He’s a shoo-in, and the first member of our TLN All-Time Leafs team.
Born in Kitchener, Ontario on September 18, 1950, Sittler played junior hockey in nearby London first with the Nationals and then, after a name change, with the all-too-familiar Knights. After scoring 252 points over three seasons and 161 games in the OHA, Sittler was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs with the eighth overall pick in the 1970 NHL Entry Draft.
It didn’t take long for Sittler to start making an impact in professional hockey. At just 20-years old, Sittler broke into the league and immediately found himself playing alongside other Leafs greats such as Dave Keon, George Armstrong and Bobby Baun. Within three seasons, Sittler became Toronto’s leading scorer (and continued to lead the team in scoring for seven more seasons). By 24, Sittler was wearing the ‘C’.
Most Memorable Moment(s)
There’s no question that Sittler’s ten-point night on February 8, 1976, an NHL record that stands to this day, is his most memorable moment.
- 2nd in All-Time Leafs Scoring (916 Points)
- 2nd in All-Time Leafs Goals (389)
- 3rd in All-Time Leafs Assists (527)
- T-1st in All-Time Number of Bronze Statues (1)
It’s very rare when one player spends as much time with one organization as Sittler did with the Leafs. His tenure with the Blue and White lasted 844 games and spanned 12 seasons, and he was extremely effective during that time. Sitting 2nd in all-time Leafs scoring, that point total won’t be surpassed anytime soon – and especially after Sittler’s greatest threat, Phil Kessel, was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Could Mitch Marner do it? Perhaps. William Nylander? Maybe. But it’s more likely that Sittler holds on to that record for a while longer. Sittler will likely forever remain one of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ most dangerous offensive weapons in franchise history.