The Leafs Nation Presents: The All-Time Greatest Leafs Team

We did it. It took us nearly a month, but we at TLN have finally named our all-time greatest Leafs team. It’s a sight to behold – the organization’s best talent, stretching from Babe Dye in 1919 all the way to Phil Kessel in 2015. 

Continue on for a summary of all our All-Time Team picks, as well as our final lineup and All-Time coaching staff. If you disagree with our picks, don’t hesitate to leave a comment! You’ll still be wrong, since we are right, but hey… 

Kidding! Check out your Toronto Maple Leafs All-Time Team past the jump…

The Profiles

Darryl Sittler

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. – Justin Fisher

Borje Salming

Salming’s legacy is bigger than the Toronto Maple Leafs, and is probably bigger than his underwear company. While scouts will admit that their original target in Sweden was Inge Hammerstrom, the fact that the Leafs were even making trips to check out European talent in the early 1970’s is pretty groundbreaking. – Jeff Veillette

Johnny Bower

Nicknamed ‘The China Wall’ for being both impenetrable in net and old as dirt, Bower would kind of be the Andrew Hammond of the 1960’s – only he’d do it for over a decade, winning Toronto four Stanley Cups in the process. He didn’t singlehandedly take the Leafs from last place in the NHL to those four Cup championships in under ten years, but he was certainly a big part of the reason why that was possible. – Cat Silverman

Mats Sundin

Like we mentioned at the top, Sundin will be in any conversation for the best Maple Leafs player of all time. The longevity is there, the scoring is there, and the big moments are certainly there. He never managed to win a Cup in Toronto, but we can at least sleep a little easier knowing he got some hardware on the international stage with Sweden. – Ryan Fancey

Frank Mahovlich

Frank Mahovlich, The Big M.  He’s a fascinating story.  With a lot of these players that played for the blue and white a long time ago, it’s tough to really find much of a tale to tell.  Mahovlich, though, is something else.  Not only was he a superstar on the ice, but he went through quite a lot off of it.  For despite all of his talent and productivity, he was the victim of constant abuse from both the organization and the fans – so much so that this legendary Leaf was ran out of town as the team’s last great dynasty came to a close. – Shawn Reis

Charlie Conacher

For a long time, Charlie Conacher was the Toronto Maple Leafs. While Busher Jackson and Joe Primeau were amazing talents, Conacher was the focal point of the Kid Line, arguably one of the best trios in NHL history. Conacher produced like few ever have, and made the Leafs into one of the best teams in the era.  – Jeff Veillette

Tim Horton

Horton was one the game’s best stay-at-home defencemen, back when such players were actually useful. Standing just 5’10 and weight only 180lbs, Horton was known for his toughness and for hitting like a truck full of coffee cans (filled). And while such style of play doesn’t usually lend itself to big point totals, Horton still ranks 14th all-time in scoring amongst Leafs players – and third amongst all Leafs blueliners – with 518 points. – Justin Fisher

Dave Keon

As one of the NHL’s all-time best two way forwards, though, Keon brought value and longevity to the Toronto Maple Leafs that’s hard to ignore. He was a part of four Stanley Cup-winning teams, took home the Lady Byng twice, and earned himself a Calder Memorial trophy as a rookie and a Conn Smythe as a tenured vet — as one of the last in an era of truly successful Leafs players, Keon was the perennial Selke candidate before the Selke Trophy was a thing. – Cat Silverman

Ian Turnbull

Turnbull isn’t remembered quite as fondly as his linemate Borje Salming, but he’s still an essential part of that generation. The Leafs haven’t frequently had elite offensive defencemen, and maybe Morgan Rielly can be this generation’s version of him, but Turnbull excited crowds and created additional threats on the top line. – Jeff Veillette

Doug Gilmour

After a rough decade (to say the least), the early 1990’s Leafs reinvigorated the fanbase. They were gritty, skilled, and most importantly, won hockey games and went on playoff runs longer than the city had seen in a long time. The Gilmour trade was the sparkplug, and he personally was the straw that stirred the drink. – Jeff Veillette

Babe Dye

Here’s the funny thing about Cecil “Babe” Dye… He scored exactly zero points in the only six games he ever played for the Toronto Maple Leafs. That said, Dye was an absolute stud in years prior with the Toronto St. Pats, joining the team in its inaugural 1919 season and leading the team in scoring from 1920 to 1925 when Dye himself was only in his early 20s. – Justin Fisher

George Armstrong

Not to get too sentimental, but being a team captain today doesn’t seem to carry with it as much esteem as it did in years past. And when Armstrong wore the ‘C’, he was one of the best. He may very well go down as the greatest captain the Leafs ever had – there’s very few who can claim to have even come close to what Armstrong accomplished. – Justin Fisher

Red Horner

To put it bluntly, Red Horner was a nasty MF who didn’t play by the rules. He led the league in penalty minutes his last eight seasons in the NHL. (I’m not really sure how this helped the team win, but he did get into a share number of fights and was renowned for his toughness.) – Adam Laskaris

Ted Kennedy

Kennedy’s legacy extends beyond the Leafs; many consider him to be one of the NHL’s first elite power forwards. Capable of playing both on the Right Wing and at Centre, Kennedy made up for his lack of top-end speed or acceleration by bulldozing through his opponents. He was stellar at protecting the puck, very willing to circle back into the defensive zone, and historians point to him as one of the best faceoff men of all time. – Jeff Veillette

Bobby Baun

In game six of the 1964 Stanley Cup final against the Wings, Baun went down with an ankle injury after taking a Gordie Howe shot to the skate. He’d leave the game on a stretcher but manage to return before the end of regulation with his leg all shot up with painkillers, then eventually score on a long knuckler in overtime to force game seven. – Ryan Fancey

Curtis Joseph

Joseph didn’t play with the Leafs as long as some other netminders we could have included on this list, and along with Sundin is the only other entry we’ve had so far who played most of their career post-1990. But his contributions to the team are actually quite staggering when we look back at the Quinn era, the last time the city saw anything resembling a contender. – Ryan Fancey

Syl Apps

In one of the greatest comeback stories in hockey history, Toronto found themselves in a three-zip hole in their best-of-seven series, with Apps failing to register a single point in the losses. In the four games that followed though, Apps would score seven points and help catapult the Leafs to four straight wins and their first Stanley Cup win in ten years (which was a pretty significant gap back then). – Justin Fisher

Al Iafrate

iafrate

Lanny McDonald

Lanny McDonald is a player I learned to love as a Leaf Benjamin Button style. As a child of the 80s I grew up knowing Lanny McDonald as a star player on the Flames, and as I started collecting hockey cards, Lanny’s Colorado Rockies cards were some of the favourites in my collection. It wasn’t until I moved to the GTA that I embraced Lanny as my favourite historical Leaf. It’s unlikely that McDonald’s time with the Leafs will ever see his number honoured (7 is already honoured for King Clancy and Tim Horton) and he’s probably not likely to earn a spot on Legend’s Row, but McDonald should be remembered as one of, if not the greatest scoring right wingers in Leafs history. – Jon Steitzer

Tomas Kaberle

Tomas Kaberle is probably the second best defenceman in Leafs history, just behind Borje Salming. He was the backbone of the team’s powerplay and their best offensive defenceman for over a decade, and ranked right up there with the NHL’s best during that same time period. The only bad things he ever did in Toronto was make mediocre players look good, and decide that he didn’t want to leave a place that he loved. – Jeff Veillette

Rick Vaive

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. – Adam Laskaris

Felix Potvin

Phil Kessel

He leaves this team with a presently polarizing legacy – he’s the kid from Wisconsin who came in just wanting to play a little bit of hackey, before going home to watch some television while eating a snack. He was a man who never really took himself too seriously, to an extent that tarnished his reputation. He was the closest thing the NHL had to an average joe who also happened to be an elite talent. It’s up to you to decide whether that description is for better, or worse, but one thing’s for sure – nobody who wore blue in white in this disaster of a decade was as exciting to watch with the puck as Phil Kessel. – Jeff Veillette

The Lineup

Forwards

Frank Mahovlich – Darryl Sittler (A) – Charlie Conacher

Dave Keon – Mats Sundin (A) – Phil Kessel

Syl Apps – Ted Kennedy (A) – Babe Dye

George Armstrong (C) – Doug Gilmour – Lanny McDonald

Rick Vaive

Defence

Borje Salming – Ian Turnbull

Tim Horton – Tomas Kaberle

Bobby Baun – Red Horner

Al Iafrate

Goalies

Johnny Bower

Felix Potvin

Curtis Joseph


Coaching Staff

Punch Imlach, Head Coach

Pat Quinn, Assistant Coach

Hap Day, Assistant Coach

Pat Burns, Assistant Coach