The Top 10 Toronto Maple Leafs Defensemen of All-Time

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TORONTO, ON – OCTOBER 02: Toronto Maple Leafs logo on jersey during an NHL game against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Arena on October 2, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

#9. Bob Baun – Toronto Maple Leafs 1956-1967, 1970-1973

Bobby Baun began and ended his NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs while playing stints with the Oakland Seals and Detroit Red Wings in between.

Baun had a little offensive flair, but he was prominently known as a premiere defensive specialist and was feared for delivering some of the hardest hits in the game.  Bobby Baun’s style of play made him a fan favourite in Toronto.

In 2020, TSN created “The All-Time 7” which were all-time rosters for all seven Canadian NHL teams.  Each team had to have a shutdown pair on defense, and Baun was voted onto that pairing to represent one of the two best defensive defensemen in Toronto Maple Leafs history.

Bobby Baun’s biggest offensive moment came during game six of the 1964 Stanley Cup final versus the Detroit Red Wings where he scored the overtime game winning goal with a broken ankle.  The Toronto Maple Leafs would go on to defeat the Red Wings in game seven for their third consecutive Stanley Cup victory.

Bobby Baun’s triumphant return to the Toronto Maple Leafs

After being drafted in the 1967 expansion draft by the Oakland Seals (the last place team in the NHL), Baun requested a trade to an original six team after one season with the Seals.

Bob Baun was traded to the Detroit Red Wings, but after a falling out with the coach 11 games into his third season in Detroit, Baun was placed on waivers, claimed by the Buffalo Sabres and promptly traded to the St. Louis Blues before playing a single game with Buffalo.

Baun refused to play for the Blues and was traded back to the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Despite all the moves that year, the 1970-71 season may have been the best season of Bobby Baun’s career as he has been credited as a major factor in helping Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender, Jacque Plante, accomplish his NHL record setting 1.88 goals against average that season.

Bobby Baun: the Toronto Maple Leafs Legendary Trailblazing Rebel

Bob Baun hasn’t been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and there is speculation that it is for political reasons.  As a player, Baun familiarized himself with the business side of hockey before there was a player’s union and was often asked for advice by other players regarding their contracts and salaries.

In 1965, Bobby Baun held out for a new contract and was eventually given a raise but tarnished his reputation with Toronto Maple Leafs GM, Punch Imlach in the process. It’s been said to be the reason why Baun was left unprotected during the 1967 expansion draft.

In the 1980’s, after Baun’s NHL career, he former an NHL alumni association to investigate player pensions.  Though Baun played 17 NHL seasons, his pension was a mere $7,622 a year.  Baun didn’t have much luck changing the NHL pension plan, but he inspired another former Leafs defenseman to pick up the torch.  (We’ll get to him later at #7).

Contract negotiations and the NHLPA are now a part of hockey, but at the time, Baun’s actions were frowned upon by the NHL and that may be the reason why he hadn’t gotten his call to the Hall of Fame.  Baun was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in 2007 for his efforts.

Though time has passed and the current HHoF selection committee may not be familiar with Baun’s contributions as stats may not reflect his specific talents, hopefully he will still get his call to the Hall not only as a player but as a trailblazer fighting for the rights of NHL players and alumni.

Achievements with the Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs Top 100 #30
6th in Hart Trophy voting 1971
5th in Norris Trophy voting 1971
8th in Norris Trophy voting 1965
Played in Four NHL All-Star Games
Four Stanley Cup Championships
Top 10 in NHL Goals by a Defenseman for two seasons
Top 10 in NHL Assists by a Defenseman for one season