The Top 10 Toronto Maple Leafs Defensemen of All-Time

Tim Horton, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)
Tim Horton, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leafs – Bill Barilko’s banner (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

#10. Bill Barilko – Toronto Maple Leafs 1946-1951

“Bill Barilko disappeared that summer.  He was on a fishing trip.  The last goal he ever scored won the Leafs the cup.  They didn’t win another till nineteen sixty two, the year he was discovered.”
– Fifty Mission Cap by the Tragically Hip

They are lyrics almost every Canadian knows, and they will forever remind us of the legendary Bill Barilko.  Despite only playing five NHL seasons, he was a major part of four Stanley Cup Championships with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Bill Barilko was known as a top two-way talent and a goal scoring defenseman during his short NHL career and played in three NHL All-Star Games.

The tragic tale of Bill Barilko seemed lost on a younger generation of Toronto Maple Leafs fans until the legendary Canadian band, the Tragically Hip, performed their song “Fifty Mission Cap” for the very first time during a concert at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on December 16th, 1991.

The Tragically Hip inspire the Toronto Maple Leafs

“Fifty Mission Cap,” which describes the mysterious vanishing of Bill Barilko and his legendary Stanley Cup winning overtime goal, was credited for reviving Barilko’s memory to the point where the Toronto Maple Leafs organization felt the necessity to retire his number on October 17th, 1992.

The song was later recorded and released on the Tragically Hip’s third studio album, Fully Completely, in October 1992 and was released as the album’s second single on January 1st, 1993.  “Fifty Mission Cap” remains a staple song during warm-ups at Toronto Maple Leafs home games.

Barilko’s banner remained in place during Tragically Hip shows at Maple Leaf Gardens and the Air Canada Centre (now Scotiabank Arena) and was displayed during a tribute to Tragically Hip lead singer, Gord Downie, after his tragic death on October 17th, 2017.

Bill Barilko’s #5 was the second number to ever be retired by the Toronto Maple Leafs, though Barilko only wore the number for his final season with the team.  The first number to be retired in sports history was Ace Bailey’s #6 by the Toronto Maple Leafs on February 14th, 1934.

Achievements with the Toronto Maple Leafs

Number Retired by the Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leafs Top 100 #36
Played in Three NHL All-Star Games
Four Stanley Cup Championships
Led NHL in Penalty Minutes 1947-48
Top 10 in NHL Goals by a Defensemen for four seasons
Top 10 in NHL Points by a Defensemen for one season
“The last goal he ever scored won the Leafs the Cup”