Tomorrow, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be revealing their 100th-anniversary logo, along with some information on team festivities. No, the logo isn’t what you’re seeing above, unless Brendan Shanahan is so glued to the emoji feature of his iPhone that he’s lost control of his mind and life. It also probably won’t be this one that the team trademarked years ago, when they were using the Ballard logo and hadn’t started shifting into the “gritty, simplistic” artistic style.
But here are a few ideas, probably coming in far too late, for things the team could do to celebrate the year.
1. Back in 2009/10, the Leafs had theme nights for the various decades in Leafs history. The only game I went to that year was 1970’s night, and it was fun. They had montages, ceremonial faceoffs, and players went out for warmups wearing the jerseys of the past with names of the era’s key players. Bringing that back, but widening the scope to do that for every possible decade would be awesome.
Let’s stick to 1910s, 20s, 30s, etc though. I’m not sure how happy Frederik Andersen and Jonathan Bernier would be with wearing Jonas Gustavsson and James Reimer jerseys for warmups on 2007-present night.
2. On that note, the Leafs should definitely make December 29th their 1990s night. Purely out of sodium and spite to their unsuccessful free agency pitch. Watching Steven Stamkos’ face when the 1993 and 1994 teams (including his childhood idol, Wendel Clark) get standing ovations from a crowd despite not going as far as he went with the Lightning in 2014/15 would be hilarious.
…too soon, too bitter? Anyway.
3. The Toronto Marlies should get involved in the process too. Yes, it’ll only be their twelfth season in town and 28th of big-picture existence. But there’s fun to be had there. They can throw back to the New Brunswick Hawks, St. Catharines & Newmarket Saints, and St. John’s Maple Leafs. They can do tributes to the Marlboros, whose graduates’ names circle the walls of Ricoh Coliseum. Heck, the AHL is a little more lenient with jersey rules; they could even straight up mess around with retro uniforms a few times throughout the year.
4. The Leafs haven’t worn the Toronto St. Pats jerseys since 2002, for a very unique and understandable reason. But I’d like to see that trend bucked this year; it’s the most obvious time to do it, even if the most opportune game to bust them out on is the day after (March 18th, vs Chicago). It’s a gorgeous look and, despite personal tragedy, deserves to be acknowledged.
5. I’m genuinely curious about what jerseys the Leafs will use for the Centennial Classic. Do they pull what Detroit did in the 2014 game and make up a faux-throwback, or will they go with something actually from their past? To me, this is the right time to go with the 1967 jersey in white. The Leafs used their first logo/general design on the Winter Classic jersey, just changed the team logo to one similar to the 35-point Leaf of the 40s, 50s, and 60s, already used the Blue 1967 jersey as their 3rd recently, and are ditching the Ballard Logo. They’re even using the same pants as they did back then now, so this is the time to pull it out.
6. I’d love to see them pull some alumni out for something similar to what Puck Talks does, maybe even working alongside them to make something happen. Get some players, staff, veteran reporters, and the like on stage to talk about moments in Leafs history that are a bit “behind closed doors” to the casual fan at the moment. You even have a pretty suitable venue for this; the top floor of Real Sports Bar & Grill can hold a pretty solid crowd and be arranged for an event like this once a month or so throughout the season.
7. I’m curious as to what the next step is with Dave Keon, and if there’s a chance we could finally see his name go up in the rafters this year. His induction into Legends Row, his first approved individual acknowledgement since leaving the team, was a positive sign for both his relationship with the team and the general state of the franchise. This city would lose its mind in the best way if he accepted a banner raising.
8. On that note, curious as to who else the Leafs could add to Legend’s Row this year. The group of statues was originally planned for a group of about ten or so players, but just a few years in, they’ve hit that landmark. The very early days of the organization still seem a little underappreciated , as do much of the 60’s. Names like Charlie Conacher, Frank Mahovolich, and King Clancy come to mind as players who should get there eventually, and hey, 13 players to represent 13 cups would be a good place to end up at the brink of the centennial.
9. Continuing on the Keon vibe of exorcising past demons, I’d the Leafs to do something that involves “Hockey Knights in Canada”. Hockey Knights is the set of murals along the platform of College Station, the TTC stop closest to Maple Leaf Gardens. For the uninitiated, when Hockey Knights was being painted, Harold Ballard refused to give the rights to the Leafs logo to the artist and to the TTC, as he didn’t like the idea of the Montreal Canadiens being on the other side of the platform. He found himself with no grounds to fight, though, and the legendary pieces of artwork stood.
I’d love to see the Leafs commission a new “Hockey Knights” for this year, with proper detailed logos and all. Union TTC Station’s brand new renovation means that we won’t see it at the station closest to the arena, but what about in the walkways leading up to the rink? The ramp coming from Go Platform 25 to 27, which is the de-facto entrance for most of the popular gates, has drab, boring white walls. Why not recreate a classic with none of the bad blood?
10. Speaking of Maple Leaf Gardens; the new Ryerson rink is beautiful (I get to play on it again a month from today and I’m as stoked as I was the first time), and there’s still a few thousand seats. A couple of alumni games would be a fun time if it can be arranged with the school. Or a public skate, or just about anything that can be hosted there, really. The Gardens was the home for two-thirds of this team’s history; some sort of usage of it for the festivities would be spectacular.
11. All of this can be promptly ignored if the Leafs start winning hockey games like it was 1918. Or 1922. Or 1932. Or 1942, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949, and 1951. Or 1962, 1963, 1964, and 1967. Basically, if the Leafs get some weird-ass blessing from the coaching, player development, and PDO gods and somehow go from finishing in dead last to ending their Stanley Cup Drought in a year, on the 100th anniversary of the team’s existence, I don’t think anybody will care about the quality of the rest of the festivities.
That might be a little bit too much to ask, though. Probably.