My #1 team has to be the first team as a kid I cheered like nuts for . . . and I had three names inside a Stanley Cup drawn on my knapsack, and still there years later when each player had long gone: Gilmour, Andreychuk, Potvin. I guess that be 92/93 era. Never had such a highly skilled player who was such a gamer in Gilmour, he was a beut. Half of us cried when Gretz killed the Habs/Buds dream final.
Second fave has to be the crew of Sundin, Roberts, Mogilny, Tucker, Cujo. Shout out to my boys Kabby and McCabe too, very very solid crew. One of the grittiest teams ever, with Corson, Yushkevich, Domi also in the mix. How Sundin - 4th best in the league with80 pts that year, btw - made guys like Renberg and Hoglund first liners, I'll never know . . . but when he was injured in the playoff run, the whole team played over their heads big time to make a go of it. Heart and soul crew.
#3 is . . . this year's team, I think. I love our defensive crew, really like our two young goalies, and love all the speed and skill. Love the heart of Grabovski, work ethic of Kulemin, flash of Kessel, the hard and awesome hitting of Phaneuf and Schenn. A couple of playoff runs, and this team could move up the ladder, make it happen boys!
#4 . . . 03/04 I guess, but there is a bit of a drop-off here. Sundin, Mogilny and the boys still around, and Niewendyk joins Roberts and we all get excited for this super hard-hitting, gritty team to go on a great playoff run. But . . . they are too old, too beat up, too many injuries.
#5 . . . might sound weird, but 05/06 I think. Year after the lock-out, and we all get excited with Lindros coming to town. Kabby and McCabe have their huge double year, 68 and 67 points by our two d-men in the regular season. Tucker and Sundin are magic on the power play with that down low play for the first half (then the league catches on, lol). I and others thought this Wellwood kid would become something special. Our D sucked though, so playoffs never came and the drought began. But, it was good to have hockey back, so this team makes the list with hope/enthusiasm.
Started watching hockey in the 70's....don't all your memories of when you're a young kid seem so much bigger than others? I don't know but I guess because I absolutely idolized guys like Sittler, MacDonald, Salming (all-time favorite player), Turnbull, Palmateer et al....They were my heroes as a kid, so they have to be my favorite all time Leafs team. They were a good team but played amongst giants in the dynasty years of Montreal and the NYI.
Second favorite team has to be the Pat Quinn teams who, IMO, probably were the deepest teams the Leafs have had in my life time, IMO. I remember trade deadline deals like the acquisition of Brian Leetch...which was probably the only time in my life where I thought the Leafs would actually win the Stanley Cup. From their 100 point seasons to having unbelievable goaltending and leadership from guys like Mats, Roberts and Nieuwendyk.
Thirdly, the team that came outta nowhere was everyone's favorite..the 93 Leafs with the very very under-rated Defense corps. Seriously..that team had to have the best group of D in the league...awesome. Gilmour and Clark were brilliant and Potvin was outstanding. Pat Burns was a remarkable coach and proved it with his 3 Jack Adams trophies.
I remember teams from the 80's with the hound line of Clark-Leeman-Courtnall, Iafrate etc...exciting young teams, probably the closest thing to what the Leafs currently are. A lot of youth, fast and high scoring teams.
I also have fond memories of the lousy teams that Rick Vaive captained...simply because Vaive was a scoring machine. 3 consecutive 50 goal seasons was probably the most impressive run by a Leaf in my years of fandom.