What are the most cursed jersey numbers in Maple Leafs history and should Toronto retire them?

Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Filipe Dimas
1 month ago
Back in 1934, the Toronto Maple Leafs did something that would quickly become iconic across professional sports. The Maple Leafs became the first franchise to retire a number from future use when they announced that no one* would ever again wear Ace Bailey’s number six following the winger’s forced retirement following a traumatic head injury. 
Since then, a retired number has become the highest honour that a team could give a former player. Captains, superstars, and iconic fan favourites are among the rare few that see their jerseys raised to the rafters following retirement.
But what if the Toronto Maple Leafs started a new tradition and began retiring numbers for a different reason? What if they looked back at their history and realised that some jersey numbers seem cursed to failure, and decided to just take those digits out of circulation? Rather than sacrifice yet another new player to these forbidden markings, here’s a few jersey numbers that Toronto should simply consider retiring.
*Ron Ellis would later go on to wear #6 at the request of Bailey.

Jersey #3

Single-digit numbers are typically reserved for the best of the best. The Toronto Maple Leafs are a perfect example of this phenomenon with a whopping six single-digit jersey numbers retired by the franchise, and four of them being retired for multiple players.
And then there’s the number three.
In recent memory, the number three has seemed to be reserved for Toronto defencemen who aren’t capable of playing defence. John Klingberg, Justin Holl, and Dion Phaneuf have all donned this digit over the past decade. Before those three players, the number had been mostly handed out to short term call ups or trade acquisitions, with no player ever wearing the number for an especially lengthy amount of time. 
Enforcer Wade Belak’s three seasons spent wearing the number is among the longest tenure of any Leaf to ever wear #3 and even then it was sandwiched by two other digits. Belak famously switched to #3 from his original #2 when Brian Leetch was traded to Toronto, and then abandoned the number in his final season with the Maple Leafs, choosing to switch to #33. 
With the performances we’ve seen from recent Maple Leafs to wear the number, it seems the team needs to take Belak’s lead and ditch the digit entirely.

Jersey #26

In defence of twenty-six, it used to be one of the more legendary numbers in Toronto. Frank Mahovlich briefly wore it before switching to #27, and fellow Hall of Famer Allan Stanley wore those digits for a decade as part of the Maple Leafs’ 1960s dynasty.
Somewhere along the way however, things went terribly wrong. In recent memory, the number has seemingly been reserved exclusively for players who can’t even last a full season on the team. Since the 2005 NHL lockout, the complete list of players to wear #26 in Toronto is: Nathan Perrott, Ben Ondrus, Mike Van Ryn, Mike Zigomanis, Petter Granberg, John-Michael Liles, Daniel Winnik, Ben Smith, Nikita Soshnikov, Par Lindholm, Nick Shore, Jimmy Vesey, Stefan Noesen, Ilya Lybushkin, and Nick Abruzzese. 
That’s 15 players in under two decades, only one of which (Daniel Winnik) lasted longer than 82 games while wearing #26. So if fans are left wondering why Toronto hasn’t called up Nick Abruzzese to the NHL despite his hot start with the Marlies, the answer could be due to his number of choice.

Jersey #71

After how terribly the David Clarkson and Nick Foligno acquisitions went in Toronto, the Maple Leafs should simply give up on ever handing anyone that jersey ever again. 
The only other player to ever wear #71 in Toronto is of course Foligno’s father. Despite Mike Foligno being a serviceable power forward during his time in blue and white, we now know that his time on the team was simply a long con for the acquisition of his son decades later.

Honourable Mention: Jersey #67

Only three Maple Leafs have ever worn 67, and none of them have been particularly awful with Robert Svehla, Brandon Kozun and Radim Zohorna all being serviceable to fine during their brief times in Toronto.
That said, does anyone else just find it strange when a Toronto Maple Leaf wears 67, famously the most cursed number in the history of the most cursed franchise? I propose that the number gets retired entirely until the Maple Leafs win another cup, after which their first draft pick that summer gets given the number whether they want it or not.

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