#4. Babe Pratt – Toronto Maple Leafs 1942-1946
Walter Peter Pratt only played four seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but in that short time he made a huge impact and became one of the greatest players in Toronto Maple Leafs history.
Pratt was a member of the New York Rangers for his first eight NHL seasons winning the Stanley Cup with the team in 1940 and played one season with the Boston Bruins after his time with the Leafs.
Babe Pratt had two huge single game on-ice achievements; one was scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal in game seven of the 1945 Stanley Cup finals versus the Detroit Red Wings, and the other was recording six assists in a game against the Boston Bruins in 1944 which is the NHL record for most assists by a defenseman in a single game.
The only players with more assists in a single game are Wayne Gretzky who had seven assists in three different games and Billy Taylor who also had a seven assist game. Both players were forwards.
The Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t choose Babe Pratt in their Top 5 All-Time D
When choosing Babe Pratt for the #4 spot on this list, I went off the grid a little bit from who the Toronto Maple Leafs organization chose when they selected their Top 100 players to celebrate their centennial season.
Pratt was #49 on their list, so he was behind Hap Day, Allan Stanley, Red Horner, Bob Baun, Carl Brewer, Bill Barilko, Tomas Kaberle, Jimmy Thomson, Ian Turnbull and the top 3 on this list.
I believe the only reason why Pratt wasn’t higher on the Leafs top 100 list is because he only played four seasons with the team. All of the defenseman ahead of him played at least twice as many seasons except for Bill Barilko who only played five seasons but had his number retired by the Leafs, and the #3 defenseman on this list who played seven seasons in Toronto.
Babe Pratt is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame though and Baun, Brewer, Barilko, Kaberle, Thomson and Turnbull are not. I know that’s more of a reflection of his entire career and not his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but Pratt’s best season’s by far were with the Leafs.
Pratt is also on the Hockey News’ list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players of All-Time (#96) and the only Toronto Maple Leafs defensemen ahead of him are the top 3 players on my list, but that’s not why Babe Pratt is so high on this list.
Why Babe Pratt is a Top 5 Toronto Maple Leafs Defenseman of All-Time
The main reason why I put Babe Pratt in the #4 spot on this list is because he is the only Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman in history to win the Hart Memorial trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player.
Babe Pratt played before the Norris trophy was introduced, but if the Norris was around in 1944, Pratt mostly likely would’ve taken the Norris along with his Hart trophy. No one has ever won the Norris trophy as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs in NHL history.
Pratt was also selected to the 1st NHL All-Star Team in 1944, the 2nd NHL All-Star Team in 1945, led NHL defensemen in points twice and was at least in the top 10 for goals, assists and points by defensemen in all four seasons he played with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
I truly believe that Babe Pratt may be the most underrated Toronto Maple Leafs legend of all time. With his Hart trophy, NHL assist record, cup winning goal, two All-Star selections and twice being the NHL point leading defensemen, all in just four seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he not only deserves to be #4 on this list, he also deserves to have a banner hanging from the rafters of Scotiabank Arena.
Achievements with the Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leafs Top 100 #49
Hart Memorial Trophy Winner 1944
1st NHL All-Star Team 1944
2nd NHL All-Star Team 1945
Stanley Cup Champion 1945
#96 on The Hockey News’ list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players
Hockey Hall of Fame Inductee
NHL Record for Most Assists in One Game by a Defenseman (6)
Led NHL Defensemen in Goals 1943-1944
Led NHL Defensemen in Assists four times
Led NHL Defensemen in Points twice
Top 10 in NHL Assists for one season
Top 10 in NHL Goals by a Defenseman for four seasons
Top 10 in NHL Assists by a Defenseman for four seasons
Top 10 in NHL Points by a Defenseman for four seasons