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Your favourite all-time (and present) Maple Leafs

Time often makes the heart grow fonder, so it is not surprising that when we talk of all-time “favourite” Maple Leaf players, we generally harken back to what was, for many of us, the good old days.

In my particular case, that means the 1960s—though there have been all kinds of Leafs I liked a lot in the ensuing decades, right up to the present. While championship success triggers fond memories, for sure, liking a player is not restricted to the team necessarily winning a lot.  The 1980s was not a great decade for the Leafs or their followers but many players still became fan favourites, including, of course, Wendel Clark.

For me, it’s easy to think back to my youth and have fond memories of Dickie Duff (right), Johnny Bower, Bobby Baun, and other Leafs like Tim Horton, Bob Pulford and Dave Keon.  The ‘70s brought Darryl Sittler, Lanny McDonald and personal favourites like Brian Spencer and Scott Garland. A lot of Leaf supporters grew up in the ‘80s, and naturally fell in love with Clark because of his hard-hitting, rambunctious style of play. In the '90s Felix Potvin and Doug Gilmour emerged as extremely popular Leafs. Who didn't cheer for "The Cat" and "Dougie"?

So I’ll throw out the question: who are some of your favourite all-time Maple Leafs?  The era doesn’t matter, whether it’s forty years ago or from the present roster.  We all have our own reasons for liking a particular player, whether it is their skill, style of play, attitude or work ethic.

I look forward to hearing some great names…


Some posts you may have missed:

-Can you cheer for the Habs now?

-Looking back on the 2013-'14 Leaf season

-Your favourite all-time hockey broadcasters


  1. Thank you in advance for indulging us here! I've been having some fun this morning scribbling some names on paper. I put together a full lineup for my all-time team, and it certainly didn't happen without my feeling badly about scratching a couple names off as if it's a personal insult. Although I am a history buff, I can't honestly appreciate players from before my time. For me, I limited this team to the past 35 or so years, as that is the limit of my lifetime memory.

    So here is my lineup:

    Darryl Sittler- No brainer. My absolute favourite all-time Leaf and hero as a little kid
    Mats Sundin- He endured, showed up, and produced year after year with little help at times
    Doug Gilmour- Blood and guts player who gave everything he had
    Peter Zezel- Dependable checker and faceoff man, personable character. Wish we had him longer (in this world as well as with the Leafs)

    Right Wing-
    Lanny McDonald- One of the most recognizable faces in hockey history, great heart and character
    Phil Kessel- The first true sniper the Leafs have had in years, exciting to watch
    Rick Vaive- First 50 goal scorer in team history. That meant a lot to me as a young fan
    Tie Domi- As much as the goon is endangered today, it was once important to have a guy like this on the team, and he played the role to the hilt

    Left Wing-
    John Anderson- Quietly put together quite a remarkable career here. Local boy made good
    Gary Roberts- I have said here before that a team of 20 guys like this would never lose a game. Unmatched combination of talent and intensity
    Wendel Clark- What else can be said about this guy?
    Tiger Williams- Always a lot of fun to watch, even when he was being an ass on the ice

    Borje Salming- Every European player in the league owes him a debt of gratitude
    Dion Phaneuf- Leadership questions aside, he has been the rock holding things together
    Tomas Kaberle- Unassuming and unimposing, but smooth skating and slick passing, he made his team around him better
    Bryan McCabe- Was a good complement to Kaberle until contract pressure got to him.
    Ian Turnbull- Overshadowed by Salming, but a great two-way defenseman in his own right
    Al Iafrate- Great size and strength. I wish the Leafs were more patient.

    Felix Potvin- Always fun to watch, a gamer
    Mike Palmateer- One of the most exciting goalies of his generation. My friends and I loved to flop and stack the pads playing road hockey, trying to emulate him

    Extras -
    Wilf Paiement - Huge shoes to fill, but he played admirably
    Jamie Macoun - Freakish strength and steady presence
    James van Reimsdyk - Prospect still, I'm very excited to see how high his ceiling can be
    Morgan Rielly - Maybe too soon, but I haven't been this excited about a rookie here since Wendel Clark

    General Manager- Pat Quinn- coach and GM were too much for one person, but he could do either job very well
    Coach - Pat Burns - I do hope that Don Cherry doesn't stop yapping until he is inducted into the Hall of Fame

    1. Great list, Pete. Each one of those names brings back memories. Thanks for posting.

  2. I like that Pete included Peter Zezel, who I liked too. Wendel Clark recently spoke of Zezel's character and importance to the team on TSN radio. CN

    1. I'm with you and Pete, Colleen- Zezel was a big part of the success of those Pat Burns teams in '93 and '94.

  3. As a kid in the 70s it was hard to not love Sittler, McDonald, Salming, Palmateer, & Turnbull. The 80s is when I truly started following the team closely. Rick Vaive was my all time favorite of that era. But I still have good memories of Anderson, Derlago, Frycer, and Dan Daoust. The 90s was obviously the time of Gilmour, Clark, Potvin...but I loved Andreychuk too (the top 6 D from the 93/94 teams are something I miss). Being from Buffalo (and also a huge fan of Gilbert Perreault) I understood how underrated big Andreychuk was. Sundin, Stumpy Thomas, Roberts, CuJo..Danny Markov! Yuskevich! Today....Kessel, Reimer, JVR...

    1. Thanks JB- Those were special Leafs in the '70s, for sure. And I like your '80s list, too. Daoust played hard and we had some fine offensive players in that era like those you mentioned.

      I think you know Perreault was a favourite of mine, though he played for the Sabres. I still think of him as one of the most exciting players I've ever seen.

  4. Favorite current Leafs: JVR, Kessel, Phaneuf and Kadri.

    JVR has exceeded all expectations. It's rare for a player to do that. Kessel defies logic in a magical way. Kadri is cocky and has spirit. He has another level and managed properly could become a large part of the heart and attitude of the team.

    As captain, Phaneuf does a tough and thankless job without many complaints.

    Favorite past Leaf: Lanny McDonald, Keon and...Grabovski!

    I can't remember any player who was more committed to/in love with the Leafs and city of Toronto than Grabovski. You could tell he wanted to play here for the rest of his career and was very upset at being bought out. Why would we get rid of a guy like that?

    A new wrinkle on this theme...favorite prospects/future Leafs:

    Petter Granberg (potential to a high-end defensive d-man, one of the things we need most)
    Sam Carrick (tough as nails, two way player, 2nd in AHL playoff goals this year with 3 in just three games)
    Leivo...23 goals as an AHL rookie, legitimate top 6 potential.
    Broll and Devane (toughness that can actually play. We will need at leastone of them against Boston someday.)

    1. I was a fan of Lanny's as well, DP. And Grabbo really did appreciate being a Leaf.

      Looking to the future is always nice. Some of the young guys you mentioned may well become favourites some day.