There hasn’t really been much off-ice drama this year for the Toronto Maple Leafs, which is probably an extremely good thing. It’s always good when the team lets you focus on the game, even when the games aren’t so great. But there has been one big recurring story through the season, and it’s the rebrand of the team heading into the 2016/17 season.
After all, next year is the 100th anniversary of the organization, which was quite literally founded on the values of “the other Toronto hockey owner is a jerk, screw that guy”. Throughout the years, the Toronto Hockey Club became the Arenas, who became the St. Patricks, who became the Leafs we all watch today. The team wants to celebrate hitting the century mark, and what better way to do that than a rebrand?
To be honest, a rebrand is way overdue. The current logo, which has been used since 1970, was introduced by the worst owner in Leafs (if not NHL) history, has absolutely no true success attached to it, and more importantly, is not all that nice. The text is cleaner than some of the previous revisions but still screams “we want to be Art Deco but we live in Canada”. The Maple Leaf looks nothing like a Maple Leaf. We’re used to it and have accepted it, but it was a lousy attempt at modernization in the early 1970’s and the fact that it’s template is now the longest-tenured since the team took on the Maple Leafs name is mystifying. The Leafs are the only team in the Original Six to significantly redesign their logo since the Blackhawks removed their circular wordmark in 1965, and it’s not exactly hard to tell.
Now, Chris Creamer put up an article today on SportsLogos (a fantastic resource, by the way) suggesting that the Leafs will indeed look back into their history for the new design. There was some gossip at first about the Leafs removing the wordmark and sticking with a blank logo, but that design has since been confirmed to be nothing more than seasonal merchandise (something that may have been obvious if you spent time looking at the web graphic designs for any MLSE team in mid-late 2015).
Here’s the meat of Creamer’s new information:
According to several of my good friends, all of which are named “anonymous reliable source”, the Leafs’ new crest will appear kinda like a healthy mix between the two logos they used during the 1966/67 season, their last as Stanley Cup Champions.
While I’m typically not a fan of anonymous sources, Creamer’s people likely work for design firms and/or Adidas-Reebok, meaning that their jobs would be all but certainly on the line if they had their names attached to the statement. Whatever the case, I’m all for this idea, if executed properly.
To me, the best to go through with this is to use the font from the later design, adopted in the 1967 playoffs and used until 1969/70, and use it on the regular season design, which was a gradually tweaked variation of what the Leafs started wearing full-time as early as 1938. That logo, with its 35 points of gritty, timeless detail, was worn for 30 seasons, a third of which led to ten of Toronto’s 13 all-time Stanley Cups.
The only flaw in the 1938 logo, in my eyes, is the text. While I’m okay with it’s simple, vintage blockiness, anybody who has taken so much as a single typography class or has spent more than twenty minutes using Photoshop understands that the kerning of the font is.. not the best. To this day, I’m not sure why it was allowed to remain the way it was for so long. Maybe rulers were illegal in Canada until 1967. I don’t know. The 1967 logo, however, has a nice, classic font that has stood the test of time and doesn’t evoke OCD-like tendencies.
If you go that path, the Leafs don’t even have to do too much with the designs of the jerseys. You can take the old alternate, which I assume Reebok has hundreds of thousands of in a warehouse in Indonesia, and slap the new logo on it. The home jerseys? Just rip off the shoulder patches from the current one and you’re golden. You get an exact recreation of what the Leafs wore from 1958 to 1967 (four Stanley Cups) without even forcing Reebok to make new fabric.
If the Leafs were to go this route, they would instantaneously have one of the nicest designs in the league, and one that would be worthy of their Original Six moniker. It’s a look that is as nice in the present as it was in the past; that evokes traditionalism without necessarily requiring it.
To me, it’s not a hard call. The team has been doing a great job of reversing the long-term, multi-decade mistakes it has made over the past year and a half. They’re focused on truly developing from within for the first time since the Entry Draft became a thing. They’ve thrown olive branches out to heroes of yesteryear who were unamused with the process. Top to bottom, the team appears to have moved on from its past mistakes, ready to restore past pride with a future legacy.
It would be nice if they could look the part as well.
Throwback to the last time a potential Leafs rebrand was in the news. Ended up with 1800 signatures and new jerseys pic.twitter.com/aduPUfn7VP
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) December 14, 2015