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10 favorite moments as a Leaf fan

Being a fan of any team in any team sport usually brings its share of heartbreak, but also some wonderful memories. It may be a particular play (for many younger Leaf fans, Doug Gilmour’s wraparound goal in the spring of ’93 in OT comes to mind), a championship game or a big trade. Everyone holds on to these cherished moments in their own way.

Certainly being a Leaf fan since the late 1950s, I’ve had my share of heart-warming—and sometimes not so heart-warming—memories  of the Leafs.

Today, I’m focusing on the positive highlights. If I had to narrow the list down to ten, here would be ten of my favorite moments and memories—more chronological than necessarily in order of importance:

  1. Game six of the 1962 finals. I was only 8 years old, but I so well remember Don Simmons (who was a left-hander like me) in goal for my beloved Leafs that night in Chicago. The Leafs came back from a 1-0 third-period deficit at a very loud Chicago Stadium. It was “my” first Cup as a Leaf fan, and it’s something I’ve always remembered fondly.  (The picture above shows the Leafs celebrating their victory.  I believe Dick Duff, who scored the game winner, is #9 and Bobby Baun is #21.  Simmons is on the far left.)

  2. I’m going to combine the 1964 finals into one “memory”. The Leafs could easily have lost that series against Detroit. I’ll never forget Bobby Pulford scoring a short-handed breakaway goal on a tremendous individual effort with like two seconds left in Game 1 at the Gardens. Great goal, great memory. That was also the year Bobby Baun scored in overtime in Game 6 after hurting/breaking his ankle. I was listening on the radio (the game was blacked out in my area because we lived so close to Detroit) and I thought the Leafs were done. Nevertheless, they somehow won. Then in Game 7, Andy Bathgate scored early in the first period on a rink long breakaway against Terry Sawchuk and the Leafs went on to win their third Cup in a row.

  3. Winning the Cup against Montreal was a thrill, of course, in the spring of 1967. It happened on May 2, to be exact. However, to me, it would never have happened if Dave Keon had not scored a brilliant short-handed goal in Game 2 of the semi-finals in Chicago. The Leafs had been blown out in Game 1, and the Keon goal sort of re-calibrated things. The Leafs won in Game 6, with Brian Conacher scoring twice against Glenn Hall. That enabled the team to take on the Habs in the final.

  4. Jim Gregory acquiring Bernie Parent in the middle of the 1970-’71 season was a highlight. Parent was emerging as a tremendous young goalie at the time. Mike Walton was unhappy in Toronto and forced a trade. Often in those circumstances, the team can’t get full value. However, in a three-way deal with the Bruins and Flyers, the Leafs ended up with Parent. Rick MacLeish went on to star for the Flyers. Walton won a Cup with the Bruins. But what a great trade that was—and should have been for a long time for Toronto. Unfortunately, we lost Parent to the WHA less than two years later.

  5. I was up in the greys at Maple Leaf Gardens the night Darryl Sittler earned 10 points in a rout of Don Cherry’s Boston Bruins. It was a just another mid-season game, but it was a memorable night in the midst of a breakout year for Sittler and Lanny McDonald. I recall clearly, because I had season’s tickets way up in the inexpensive grey seats that year, McDonald turned a huge corner in his third season with the Leafs. His confidence grew by leaps and bounds. Both guys were prominent enough and far enough along in their development that they made Team Canada (as linemates) for the 1976 Canada Cup series help in September. Sittler scored the “Cup” winner in overtime against Czechoslovakia, as I recall.

  6. McDonald’s goal in overtime in Game 7 of the New York Islander playoff series in the spring of ’78 was a top ten moment, for sure. Borje Salming was injured earlier in the series. Ian Turnbull played the best hockey of his life and rugged Dan Maloney made sure the tough Islanders didn’t run all over the Leafs.

  7. I’m struggling to remember whether it was 1987 or 1988, but I recall Mike Allison scored an overtime goal for the Leafs to give them a 3-1 lead in the series that featured Jacques Demers coaching the Wings and John Brophy coaching the Leafs. The Wings came back, though, to win the series in seven games. I believe that was when defenseman Al Iafrate was playing some of his best hockey for the Leafs.

  8. Doug Gilmour’s goal in OT against Cujo and the Blues in the spring of ’93 was obviously fantastic, but it couldn’t have happened if Nik Borschevsky hadn’t deflected in the overtime winner in Game 7 against the Wings at the Joe Louis Arena in the earlier series. That led to the best- and most exciting- Maple Leaf playoff “run” in the modern era.

  9. It’s hard to pick one memory out of the playoff years when Toronto beat Ottawa every year in the playoffs in the early 2000s. It seemed like Ottawa was the better team every year, then Toronto, under Pat Quinn, would take them out in the playoffs. If I had to pick one moment, I guess it was the the year of Gary Roberts’ overtime goal at the ACC. If the Leafs don’t win that game, I don’t think they win that series.

  10. I choose to believe that there is one memory that is yet to come, but will stand with- or even above—all the others. So number 10 stays blank for now.
There are many moments I've not included here, of course.  (Keon scoring all three goals in game 7 of the 1964 semi-finals at the Forum in Montreal certainly stands out for me.)  But every Leaf fan, young or old, has their own great memories. If you’d like to share some, send a note along.


  1. "It seemed like Ottawa was the better team every year..."

    It's true, it did seem that way. It's actually strange to look back and realize that the Leafs finished ahead of the Senators in the standings every year they matched up except once (strangely enough, the year they swept them). Not sure why, but the Sens always felt like they were supposed to be the favorites even though on paper the Leafs were usually better.

    It's kind of like how most of us remember the Leafs being massive underdogs to the Wings in 1993, even though there was only a four-point gap between the two teams that year.

  2. I am from detroit, was at the game 7 Boreschevsky game winner. Yahoooooo. If I was not a young teenager I proabbly would have gotten my rear kicked the way I was celebrating!!

  3. Michael, I am surprised at you. You didn't include Toronto's 13-0 win over Detroit in 1971. I can still recall watching that nightmare.

  4. Thanks for sharing these. I can probably count on one hand the number of first-hand accounts I've heard of Leaf Cup victories, so each one helps.

    - Fleet Fox

  5. Not too many people remember this one but Blaine Stoughton's OT goal against Los Angeles in the mini series in 1975 stands out as one of my favorite Leaf memories because that was the very first time I actually got to feel the excitement , euphoria and ecstacy of watching the Leafs win a playoff game in overtime. Nearly hit the ceiling jumping out of my living room chair.

    1. I seem to recall that Stoughton scored on a nice little drop pass from Dave Keon on that overtime winner.