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What Leafs team was better

View Poll Results: Better Leafs Club
1970s Leafs 3 11.54%
1990 Leafs 21 80.77%
Even Up 2 7.69%
Voters: 26. You may not vote on this poll

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Old
03-20-2013, 02:03 PM
  #1
Mats86
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What Leafs team was better

Since the Leafs last won a cup, these two teams were the best they had. Which one was the better club? The late 1970s Leafs of Darryl Sittler, Lanny, Salming, Turnbull, Palmateer. Or the early '90s Leafs of Doug Gilmour, Andreychuk, Wendel, Felix?

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03-20-2013, 02:11 PM
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A little more star power on the 70's team, but the 90's team was much more balanced with better supporting players. The biggest difference was the atmosphere in which these two teams played. Playing in the Ballard era was no doubt demoralizing and a major distraction. Hard to focus on hockey with the circus always in town. The 90's breathed fresh air into the Leafs and a new team psyche was born. They could believe in each other and as a team.

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03-20-2013, 03:19 PM
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Big Phil
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You probably have to go with the 1990s Leafs. They reached the final 4 twice. Toronto got blown out both times in 1978 and 1979 by Montreal which isn't a knock considering the Flyers and Bruins both got swept by them at some time. However there was at least something you could believe in back in 1993 and 1994. In the late 1970s the series against Montreal was just ceremonial and a hiccup on the way to Montreal's Cup wins. The Leafs weren't even close back then.

I will say though, that the Quinn era Leafs are the best I have seen since 1967. Reaching the final 4 in 1999 and 2002 and losing to teams they should have beat. Then arguably the best team they had in 2004 losing a nasty series to the Flyers. There was so much hope for more. You never got a strange look when you thought the Leafs were contenders back then.

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03-20-2013, 04:37 PM
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Killion
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Ya, I agree 110%. The Leafs of 93/94 & the Quinn era, 99/02 & then in 04. Much more balanced teams than the 70's Leafs. You'd watch Sittler & Co and you just knew they didnt have what it took as a "team" to take it to the next level, and in all fairness, due respect to a all of those players, many beyond excellent, even with some re-tooling & tweaking it might not have mattered because as surely as the Sun comes up, you just gotta know Harold would pull something. Just couldnt help himself, keep his mouth shut, demoralising players, the dressing room. "That Hammarstrom, only player Ive ever seen who could go into the corners with an egg carton shoved down his pants without breaking a single shell" (or words that affect). No one was every going to reach their potential under that guy, and no one was ever going to steal the limelight or be a bigger star with the Leafs than Harold E. Ballard.

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03-21-2013, 12:51 AM
  #5
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Sittler vs Gilmour in the battle of the only two Leafs to score 100 points. Ever.

90s Leafs won more and came within a game of the Finals twice, Potvin > Palmateer, and in these time frames the offensive stars are about equal. In fact, I'd probably lean towards Gilmour with Clark and Andreychuk given that GPG was similar for those two eras.

90s Leafs.

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03-21-2013, 02:12 AM
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Mats86
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Originally Posted by Killion View Post
Ya, I agree 110%. The Leafs of 93/94 & the Quinn era, 99/02 & then in 04. Much more balanced teams than the 70's Leafs. You'd watch Sittler & Co and you just knew they didnt have what it took as a "team" to take it to the next level, and in all fairness, due respect to a all of those players, many beyond excellent, even with some re-tooling & tweaking it might not have mattered because as surely as the Sun comes up, you just gotta know Harold would pull something. Just couldnt help himself, keep his mouth shut, demoralising players, the dressing room. "That Hammarstrom, only player Ive ever seen who could go into the corners with an egg carton shoved down his pants without breaking a single shell" (or words that affect). No one was every going to reach their potential under that guy, and no one was ever going to steal the limelight or be a bigger star with the Leafs than Harold E. Ballard.
I think you are underrating the '70s team. No team ever could beat the Habs of late '70s. That's not to take nothing away from Sittler and company. Any club facing Habs from '76-'78 was a cake walk.

Leafs beat a Islander team which would win 4 straight cups after Habs dynasty faded. Not too mention epic battles win Flyer team who were defending cup champions at that time. Salming was best defenseman team ever had. MacDonald a goal scorer, Williams the enforcer, Palmateer but on great shows until they met the Habs. That team oozed character

The late '90s Leafs never had the leadership or heart to win. I remember watching a crucial playoff game with my co-worker at the time, who was die-hard Leafs fan, Toronto came up with about 6 shots over the entire game. Arguably poorest playoff effort i seen in 45 years of watching hockey.

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03-21-2013, 09:59 AM
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The 1990's Leafs. That team in 1993 was a great team for sure, Gilmour played his heart out that spring.

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03-21-2013, 11:28 AM
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I think you are underrating the '70s team. No team ever could beat the Habs of late '70s.
Islanders took the Habs to 6 in 77.
Bruins took the Habs to 6 in 78.
Bruins took the Habs to 7 in 79.

Toronto beating the Isles in 78 in 7 was a great upset, so kudos to them. But in the next round they got swept by the Habs 4-0. And in 79, yet another 4 game sweep.

It was very hard to beat those Habs, but other teams in that era were more competitive than the Leafs. Even the Rangers (who also upset the Islanders -- 6 games in 79, not 7 ) won a game versus the Canadians. Toronto could not get a single victory.

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03-21-2013, 11:58 AM
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It's hard to believe that you'd even suggest a comparison. The 1970s leafs were a line, a defence pair and hot and cold goaltending. Beyond that they were pretty thin and I would never put them in the same class as the Habs, Bruins, Islanders or Flyers. They always seemed to be missing the talent and intestinal fortitude to get to the next level.

The early 90s team had more balance, better goaltending and team leadership. Though I'm not a big Leafs fan I can understand why the blown call in the Semi Final is now part of the Leafs legend. The 93 playoff run was a real case of catching "lightning in a bottle" and probably the team's best chance to break the curse of 67.

Just for the dramatics alone the 90's team stands out. No single season of the 70s Leafs comes close to what the team did in 1993.

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03-21-2013, 12:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mats86 View Post
I think you are underrating the '70s team. No team ever could beat the Habs of late '70s. That's not to take nothing away from Sittler and company. Any club facing Habs from '76-'78 was a cake walk.

Leafs beat a Islander team which would win 4 straight cups after Habs dynasty faded. Not too mention epic battles win Flyer team who were defending cup champions at that time. Salming was best defenseman team ever had. MacDonald a goal scorer, Williams the enforcer, Palmateer but on great shows until they met the Habs. That team oozed character

The late '90s Leafs never had the leadership or heart to win. I remember watching a crucial playoff game with my co-worker at the time, who was die-hard Leafs fan, Toronto came up with about 6 shots over the entire game. Arguably poorest playoff effort i seen in 45 years of watching hockey.
Interesting post Mats, some great observations, objective. I appreciate that. Been watching hockey, the Leafs in particular for over 50yrs so sure, I can perhaps understand why you'd think I was perhaps under-rating the 70's team under Sittler, over-rating the 90's teams.

The game itself had changed much between 76/77 and 92/93 of course so comparison's can be somewhat problematical. Yes the Leafs of the 70's "oozed character", however, due to the dysfunctional nature of the organization at that time from the top down, Ballard, the players including Salming, Lanny, Sittler, Ian Turnbull & several others I dont believe ever really reached their full potential as individuals, the team lacking unity, missing several pieces. Beyond Williams and a couple of other designated "goons", no real "grit". And dont get me started on Dave "Tiger" Williams. Not a fan at all.

For example despite his heroics', I was never enamoured with Mike Palmateer. He was aggressive enough but had a nasty habit of finding himself caught out of position, often needlessly showboating. He was smallish, had difficulties against "big" teams & you could see him getting exhausted late in games as a result. Really I could go on & on, down the depth charts which frankly werent very deep once you got past the top line & defensive pairings, but the bottom line was that between the inconsistencies & revolving door from the crease on out, player personnel turnover, ownership interference in both Management & Coaching as a "team" they were eff'd. Not enough staying power, transcendent talent to break on through from good to great. Ballards overarching personality casting dark shadows over the dressing room, messing with players, Coaches, Scouts & Managers heads.

In the 90's under Stavro's et al, certainly Quinn, character allowed to blossom, indeed encouraged, nurtured. Far more depth of talent, real potential, possibilities. Fleeting, but it was there if but for a brief period.


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03-21-2013, 01:30 PM
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Toronto beating the Isles in 78 in 7 was a great upset, so kudos to them. But in the next round they got swept by the Habs 4-0. And in 79, yet another 4 game sweep.
ya, I mean it was full-on meltdown time by the time they'd gotten past the Islanders who were still just beginning to come into their own, daring to dream, realizing their potential. The Leafs older, more experienced, "trickier". Blown to Smithereens by arch rivals the Habs. For any proud Torontonian, Leafs fan, that was totally unacceptable. A glaring example of just how messed up things really were. Out in four straight.

79/80, the absolute nonsense & drama going on with MacDonald traded, Sittler removing the 'C' from his jersey, Imlach, Brewer's last hurrah. The players thinking Carl was an Imlach "spy" without so much as a clue as to the history of enmities between those two. Wouldnt even pass the puck to him in a game, just beyond dysfunctional. No, the wheels had fallen off years before, the final nail in the coffin in so far as I and many of my generations & earliers being the despicable treatment of Dave Keon.

Contemporaneously the shame & embarrassment Ballard brought to the organization and city as a result of his criminal activities, incarceration. Buffoonery thereafter. Yolanda. His son Bill charged with assault. Just on & on. Smutty. Titillating perhaps, like reading the National Enquirer while waiting in line at a Safeway or Piggly Wiggly. Turned off generations of fans Im afraid, Many of us hung in there, myself included but still. Organizations a mess, this marriage between Bell & Rogers lookin like it was made in Hell. I guess we'll have to see.

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03-21-2013, 03:55 PM
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... Imlach, Brewer's last hurrah. The players thinking Carl was an Imlach "spy" without so much as a clue as to the history of enmities between those two. Wouldnt even pass the puck to him in a game, just beyond dysfunctional.
I remember reading some spy rumours and grousings in THN so it was quite a revelation to learn more of the tangled Brewer/Imlach history some years later.

That dressing room must just have been toxic.

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03-21-2013, 04:05 PM
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I am going to go out on a limb here and say Red Wings - pick a year, Fedorov if not St Sergei, than Yzerman.

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03-21-2013, 04:14 PM
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Not Ballard>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Ballard

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03-21-2013, 04:39 PM
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Killion
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That dressing room must just have been toxic.
Ya, my understanding of the situation from what was reported at the time (along with bio's etc in subsequent years), and I used to follow it very closely was that really, the Leafs dressing room had been in a state of disarray, a culture of cliques & camps since 57 or so. The quashing of the first attempts in forming a players union, Conn Smythes retreat with Stafford & Ballard taking over, the arrival of Imlach, winning Cups in spite of the guy not because of him. Not everyone loathed or despised Punch, but a good majority certainly did. Selling the farm, off-loading future talent, running on fumes, engines with a lot of mileage, playing trap. This dysfunctional culture once entrenched stuck around like a bad smell right through the 70's & into the 80's. Passed on from veterans to rookies, rookies becoming veterans, passed on again, unbroken cycle for near on 3 decades. Had Harold lived another 10, 20 years, I shudder to think how bad it mightve gotten, then again, the last what, 7 years? Doesnt get much worse, though Im sure if Ballard had been around he'd have found a way, maybe, then again, the manner in which MLSE went about bailing on the Gardens, pretty deplorable. Criminal in my opinion.

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03-21-2013, 05:19 PM
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1957

Quote:
Originally Posted by Killion View Post
Ya, my understanding of the situation from what was reported at the time (along with bio's etc in subsequent years), and I used to follow it very closely was that really, the Leafs dressing room had been in a state of disarray, a culture of cliques & camps since 57 or so. The quashing of the first attempts in forming a players union, Conn Smythes retreat with Stafford & Ballard taking over, the arrival of Imlach, winning Cups in spite of the guy not because of him. Not everyone loathed or despised Punch, but a good majority certainly did. Selling the farm, off-loading future talent, running on fumes, engines with a lot of mileage, playing trap. This dysfunctional culture once entrenched stuck around like a bad smell right through the 70's & into the 80's. Passed on from veterans to rookies, rookies becoming veterans, passed on again, unbroken cycle for near on 3 decades. Had Harold lived another 10, 20 years, I shudder to think how bad it mightve gotten, then again, the last what, 7 years? Doesnt get much worse, though Im sure if Ballard had been around he'd have found a way, maybe, then again, the manner in which MLSE went about bailing on the Gardens, pretty deplorable. Criminal in my opinion.
You raise an interesting point. 1957 after Howie Meeker was not renewed as coach the Leafs hired Billy Reay - going outside MLG for the first time since Dick Irvin Sr left and Conn Smythe turned to Hap Day. Reay did not survive Punch Imlach who quickly assumed the Coach/GM role and started limiting the access former Leaf players had to the team.

This was followed by some disruption of the junior feeder system and the minor league farm clubs. King Clancy was the only survivor. Imlach brought in his loyalists - Joe Crozier and slowly changed the team culture.

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03-21-2013, 06:21 PM
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Killion
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You raise an interesting point. 1957 after Howie Meeker was not renewed as coach the Leafs hired Billy Reay - going outside MLG for the first time since Dick Irvin Sr left and Conn Smythe turned to Hap Day. Reay did not survive Punch Imlach who quickly assumed the Coach/GM role and started limiting the access former Leaf players had to the team.... This was followed by some disruption of the junior feeder system and the minor league farm clubs. King Clancy was the only survivor. Imlach brought in his loyalists - Joe Crozier and slowly changed the team culture.
Billy (accredited as being the 1st player to raise his arms & stick in celebration after a goal) Reay's first year of 57/58 the Leafs didnt make the Playoffs, Imlach firing him 20 games into the next season having only won 5. Likely wouldnt have mattered if he'd won all 20 though, as anyone who'd followed Imlachs career previously with the Quebec Aces of the QSHL would attest. Reay of course went on to Coach Chicago from 63/77, being fired a few days before Christmas in the form of a note slipped under his office door by the always classy Wirtz.... Imlach was eventually dismissed by Stafford Smythe after having had a major spat with rising star Mike Walton (amongst others) who he considered a threat & company man as Mike was married to one of the Smythes. Walton refusing to even play for Punch. Replaced by John McLellan. Able but not exactly an independent thinker, creative. Did what he was told.

Punch, in partnership with Joe Crozier & Foster Hewitt had bought the Vancouver Canucks of the WHL, knowing full well expansion to this city was on its way. He padded the odds in advance of the Expansion Draft in 70, burying guys who were easily NHL calibre players in the minors, with the Nucks, in Tulsa & elsewhere from like 65/66 onward, wouldnt promote them to the Leafs or trade them despite all kinds of offers & unknown to Stafford Smythe & Ballard who were drunk most of the time anyway, oblivious. Happy Racals they were at that time C58. Top O' the World Ma!... Before everything went to Hell, the Police, the handcuffs.....

Anyhoo, Punch, Joe & Foster despite coming very very close and likely with Ballard & Smythes vehemence that Imlach be rejected even if he did have the money was absolutely persona non grata. Not ever, NEVER welcome as an owner, lost out to a Minnesota based medical company, who just a short time later got into all kinds of trouble themselves, fraud, SEC, FBI, you name it. Remember too Ballard & Smythe sent packing from Vancouver early 60's when they tried to extort land from the city to build an arena, again, knowing full well Expansion was on the horizon, Vancouver a pretty much given (but rejected in 67 when applying first time, Smythe & Ballard holding a grudge) Imlach & Crozier/Hewitt however still made out like Bandits. Selling the Canucks name, players etc to the Meds company for a cool $2.8M, a fair chunk of change back then. It was thought Punch would be hired as President/GM of the NHL Canucks, offered the job in fact, but instead, he opted for Buffalo, promising "sharper uniforms than the Leafs, better team, ohhhh, now your really in trouble, fire me will ya"?!!!. Joe Crozier as well "looked after"... Meanwhile the culture of the Leafs was so screwed thanks to his nonsense and had taken full root, exacerbated by Ballards Shenanigans for near on 23 long years thereafter.


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03-22-2013, 03:24 AM
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I will say though, that the Quinn era Leafs are the best I have seen since 1967. Reaching the final 4 in 1999 and 2002 and losing to teams they should have beat. Then arguably the best team they had in 2004 losing a nasty series to the Flyers. There was so much hope for more. You never got a strange look when you thought the Leafs were contenders back then.

Yeah. Quinn era was the best Leafs team since 67.

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