TLN’s All-Time Greatest Leafs Team: Rick Vaive

Rick Vaive was drafted fifth overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 1979. After just one season, he was dealt to Toronto as part of a package that saw Tiger Williams and Jerry Butler head west. Williams would put up one 30-goal season in Vancouver, Butler never hit 20. Vaive hit 50 goals three times in Toronto and hit at least 30 another four times in his 7 seasons in the Blue and White. It’s perhaps the 2nd best Toronto-Vancouver trade ever, after Cam Charron for a writer to be named later (which turned out to be Jeff Veillette).

Career statistics


Vaive was a monster in Toronto, simply put. His stats speak for themselves, as he put together one of the best offensive careers in a Leaf uniform ever. He was the Leafs’ leading scoring in the 1980s, and it wasn’t really even close

Most Memorable Moments

“First Leaf to score 50 goals” will always and forever be Rick Vaive’s most memorable moment.

Vaive’s 6 playoff goals in 9 games in 1986 were also quite the feat, though the Leafs bowed out in the second round to the St. Louis Blues in 7 games.

Leafs Milestones

  • 5th All-Time in Goals (199)
  • 10th All-Time in Points (537)
  • 17th All-Time in Assists
  • 1st, 2nd, & 5th All time in single-season goals
  • Leafs captain from 1982-86.

Legacy

Vaive’s perhaps a little underappreciated as a Leaf, considering his LOWEST goal total in a full season in Toronto was 33. Even in the high-scoring 1980s, that’s still a rather impressive feat, especially considering his teams missed the playoffs three out of his seven years in Toronto and never made it past the second round. Vaive was stripped of his captaincy for missing a morning practice in 1986, which was a turning point in his Toronto career as he was shipped out to Chicago in 1987. Underappreciated winger who scores a lot on bad teams after being traded after unfair chances early in his career, before eventually being traded again? Holy cow, I think Rick Vaive is Phil Kessel. 

After his playing career, Vaive went into coaching where he saw himself behind the bench for both an ECHL championship and five consecutive playoff berths with the South Carolina Stingrays. He then went to the Saint John Flames of the AHL and had two playoff berths in two years, before moving to the Mississauga IceDogs of the OHL and led them all the way to… a 3-win season.