Toronto Maple Leafs: Darryl Sittler’s 10 Point Night Was My Stanley Cup

MONTREAL - 1980's: Darryl Sittler #27 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates before the game against the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)
MONTREAL - 1980's: Darryl Sittler #27 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates before the game against the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Toronto Maple Leafs fans of my generation cannot look fondly back on halcyon days of ticker-tape parades and Stanley Cup banners being raised in the rafters of their teams’ home rink.

There was a time in leaf land when such scenes were commonplace. However, those of my generation were born a decade too late to witness such glorious occasions featuring the Toronto Maple Leafs.

No, the sad fate of those of us born in the mid-1960s, too young at the time to recall the 1967 Stanley Cup victory, was to inherit the late 20th century and early 21st Century misery that was yet to come.

Except for a brief time in the late 70s and the early 90s, the buds have teased and tortured their faithful throng of followers. A losing team for most of the 40-plus seasons that I have supported them, our boys in blue and white have never made a Stanley Cup final appearance and have advanced to the semis a scant few times.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Darryl Sittler

Leafs fans of my generation are forced to recall isolated incidents when it seemed like the stars were aligned for a brief moment and our beloved buds were able to provide us with a reason to stand and cheer.

One such night was the night of February 7th, 1976. at home in the comfy confines of Maple Leaf Gardens. On this night, Leafs Captain Darryl Sittler smashed Maurice “Rocket” Richard’s existing record of 8 points in a single game.

On this wondrous night, Sittler scored six goals and added four assists during an 11 to 4 shellacking of the detested bears from Beantown, the Boston Bruins, and in doing so, he ended the fledgling career of Bruins goalie Dave Reece.

Sittler’s record of 10 points in a single games continues to stand to this day.

Still a primary school student at the time, I considered Sittler’s big night as a portent of great things to come for the home team. Sadly, it was not to be, and more than 40 years later, I am still waiting.

I was far too young and naïve at the time to understand the reality of hockey in Toronto at the time-that victory was optional from a team management perspective and that to turn a profit, management simply needed to open the gates of Maple Leaf Gardens, let the fans and players in, and count the cash that came streaming in every time-win, lose, or draw.

Harold Ballard, the controversial owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the time, understood the situation and realizing that the Carlton Street cathedral was a cash cow of the highest order, invested nothing to turn the buds into a winning hockey team.

Instead, Ballard focused his attention on his hobbies of annoying feminists, barring Russian and other Eastern Bloc players from entering his building, defying various NHL decrees such as putting players’ names on uniforms, and sundry other amusements. Ballard could revel in his pursuits, hang out with best pal King Clancy, and Maple Leaf Gardens would be full to the brim night after night after night.

Sittler was a great player during his years in Toronto and had a stellar supporting cast with the likes of Lanny McDonald, Errol Thompson, Borje Salming, Ian Turnbull and Mike Palmateer, but his Leafs, while promising, were never able to advance beyond the semi-finals.

Conflict with Ballard, led to Sittler’s eventual trade to Philadelphia in 1982, and the worst decade in team history followed. The faithful fans, including myself, blindly followed like lemmings headed for the precipice.

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I have had no ticker tape parades to attend, no all night street parties to crash with my fellow members of Leafs Nation, but I do have a now distant, but still vivid memory of a cold night in February when a Maple Leafs centre, a boyhood hero, long hair flowing from his helmetless head, dashed, danced, and dangled his way into the record books while humiliating a hated foe.

My Stanley Cup.