A look back at some of the worst Maple Leafs records of all time
Photo credit:(Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)
By Filipe Dimas1 month ago
Despite a distinct lack of playoff success, this generation of the Toronto Maple Leafs has done its fair share of record setting. In the 2021/22 season, the team set franchise records for wins (54) and points (115). That same year, Auston Matthews set the franchise record for goals in a season with 60. One season later, Mitch Marner set the franchise point streak record, going 22 consecutive games getting on the scoresheet.
Not to be outdone by the offense, some recent Leafs goalies have made their mark on the record books as well. In 2017/18, Frederik Andersen achieved the franchise record for wins in a season with 38, while his backup that season, goaltender Curtis McElhinney tied Jacques Plante for best save percentage in a Leafs career (minimum 20 games played) posting a .925 across 32 games during his two-season stint in Toronto. And who can forget Jack Campbell, whose 11 game winning streak in 2021 was not only a franchise record, but also an NHL record for longest winning streak to open a season.
Beyond single season records, Auston Matthews’ recent extension seems to all but guarantee he will rewrite the Maple Leafs history books, and soon surpass Mats Sundin for the all-time franchise goals record, with him and teammate Mitch Marner racing to surpass Sundin’s franchise points record as well.
Of course, these are all positive records, the kind that are celebrated and shared online by the franchise’s PR team to get fans excited about the team’s success. While they’re fun and interesting, the more interesting records may be the nefarious ones that players, teams, and fans alike are unwilling to celebrate.
With that, I present to you a look back on some of the worst Toronto Maple Leafs records of all time.
Most games without a point
Across over a century of Maple Leafs hockey, 130 different skaters have failed to record a point during their time wearing the blue and white. Of course, most of these players only spent a cup of coffee with the team, not even crossing double digit games played.
That wasn’t the case for Philippe Dupuis, whose 30 games of being left off the scoresheet is a franchise record. Interestingly enough, despite holding the all-time record for being held pointless, he didn’t even have the worst pointless streak during the one season he played in Toronto. All of Dupuis’ 30 games occurred during the 2011/12 campaign, where teammate Jay Rosehill happened to go 31 games without recording a single point. Fortunately for Rosehill, he avoided the all-time record by scoring 5 points for Toronto over the previous two seasons.
And just to add salt in the wound on how bad the early 2010’s Maple Leafs were, it was a third player on that 2011/12 roster that would go on to claim Toronto’s single season record for games without a point when Colton Orr was held scoreless across 54 games in the 2013/14 season.
When the NHL first started tracking plus/minus in the 1960s, it was seen as a measure of defensive responsibility. These days the stat is more accurately regarded as what it really is, a better reflection of a team’s performance rather than an individual player’s. That said, it remains a fun stat to stare at in awe and wonder when it’s particularly high or low.
That’s the case for former Leafs defenceman Gary Nylund whose -102 across only 218 games is by far the worst mark across a Maple Leafs career. Despite the all-time record, Nylund was beaten out by teammate Jim Benning (yes, that Jim Benning) in 1984/85 when Benning’s -43 set the single season franchise mark, beating Nylund by one.
For the worst single game performance, Pat Quinn (yes, that Pat Quinn) stands alone in Maple Leafs lore with a -8 achieved during a 9-0 loss to Chicago during the 1969 season, narrowly beating out three players, including Nylund, who recorded a -7 in just a single game.
As a bonus, Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur share the record for worst plus/minus in a win as the two each went -4 during a 5-4 win over the Nashville Predators in 2010 – and just because the hockey Gods are cruel, Grabovski and MacArthur actually combined for 5 points in that game, with both players factoring in on the game-tying and game winning goals. Less than two months later, those bizarre performances would be greatly overshadowed when Brett Lebda infamously posted a -3 during a 9-3 blowout win against the Atlanta Thrashers.
Worst save percentage
In reality, the worst save percentage of any Maple Leafs goaltender probably occurred back at the NHLs inception, before goaltenders even had pads and closer resembled the younger brother holding a jacket during street hockey than their modern counterparts. Unfortunately, much like plus/minus, the shots on goal statistic wasn’t consistently tracked by the NHL until the 1960s, so consider the following two sections as modern records.
With that said, the story of the worst single game save percentage in Maple Leafs history is an interesting one. On March 6, 2002, Sebastian Centomo set the mark when he let in 3 goals on 12 shots for a .750 save percentage while playing only 40 minutes in what would be his only NHL game. It was a tough break for the young netminder who was only 21-years-old at the time, and putting up excellent numbers in the AHL, with a .926 save percentage across 26 games for the St. John’s Maple Leafs.
What makes the stat line so interesting, is that Centomo was never supposed to play in the game. Called up to serve as a backup for Corey Schwab while Leafs starter Curtis Joseph tended to an injury that ended up keeping him off the ice for over a month, Centomo was put into the game to start the second period after Schwab gave up 3 goals himself on 13 shots during the first. While the Maple Leafs played some great defense, allowing only 12 shots during those final two periods, they never managed to score more than two goals, meaning that even a shutout performance by Centomo still wouldn’t have been enough.
The worst save percentage of any Maple Leafs goalie to start over 100 games for the club belongs to Ken Wregget who posted a woeful .871 across 200 games in the high-scoring 1980s. Wregget’s story has a happy ending, with the netminder having a long career that stretched into the 1999/00 season, and even winning a Cup as Pittsburgh’s backup in 1992.
Worst shooting percentage
We tend to bully goalies over their low percentages, so it’s time to do the same for skaters. Darryl Sittler and Nazem Kadri share the single-game futility record for shooters, with each throwing 12 shots on net without scoring a goal at some point during their Leafs tenure. Of course, even getting shots on goal is a talent in itself, so it’s no surprise to see two star players top that list – especially when considering the small sample size.
Stretching the record for futility across a season is a different story however. Throughout his career, Bob Baun was considered one of the best defencemen of his era, managing to win four Stanley Cups as a key piece of the Maple Leafs dynasty of the 1960s. One thing he wasn’t known for however, was his goal scoring, managing only 37 goals across a 964 game career. His inability to light the lamp peaked in the 1964/65 season when he put 99 shots on net, without a single goal. The lack of offense turned out to be a non-issue for awards voters that year, with Baun finishing eighth in Norris Trophy voting.
While Bob Baun didn’t score much, he can still say he scored a goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The same can’t be said about Matt Martin – no not that one currently on the Islanders, the original Matt Martin who played 76 games for the Maple Leafs across four seasons in the mid-90s. During his tenure in Toronto, Martin scored 0 goals on 53 shots, making him the most snakebitten shooter in Maple Leafs history and sole owner of the franchise record for most shots on goal without ever scoring.
The subject of the worst season in Maple Leafs history depends on who you ask, though if angry online commenters are to be believed, the answer is always the current season taking place.
Most people will point to the 1984/85 campaign as the worst in Maple Leafs history, with the team setting a franchise record of 52 losses while finishing with a measly 48 points (20 wins and 8 ties) across 80 games. By comparison, when the Maple Leafs finished in last place during the 2015/16 tank for Matthews year, they still managed 69 points.
That 1984/85 season saw the team post a points percentage of .300, which happens to only be the second worst mark in franchise history. During the NHL’s sophomore campaign, Toronto’s team, then named the Arenas, finished with a 5-13 record, resulting in a points percentage of only .278. While it could be argued that this is actually the worst season in franchise history, the fact that they won the cup the year prior, and competed against only two other clubs in 1918/19, suggests that this is yet another case of small sample size and it’s the 1984/85 squad that safely holds the distinction of worst Maple Leafs team of all time.
Then again, those 52 losses in the mid-eighties resulted in the franchise drafting Wendel Clark first overall, so maybe even the ugliest storm clouds have a silver lining.
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