On February 14th 1934, the Toronto Maple Leafs became the first professional sports team in history to retire a number in honour of a player when they retired Ace Bailey’s #6 after he suffered a gruesome career-ending injury.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have now honoured 19 players this way by raising their banners to the rafters. Since some of these players used the same number at different times, there are 13 numbers retired by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Though Toronto has more player banners in the rafters than any other NHL team and the second most retired numbers (Montreal has 18 banners and 14 numbers), there are still many more legendary Leaf players deserving of the honour.
I love seeing players having their legacy honoured and being cementing into the history books. I remember seeing the banners hanging from Maple Leaf Gardens as a kid, and I image kids today looking up the names and reading about the remarkable achievements of the greatest players in Toronto Maple Leafs history.
In the history of the Toronto Maple Leafs, which spans over 100 years, there has to be more than 19 players worthy of a banner in the rafters. Some may say that you’ll run out of numbers if they retire too many, but in my opinion, the numbers don’t even have to be retired. Having them hanging above the ice is enough.
The last player banner to be raised in Toronto was Mats Sundin’s #13 in 2012.
Toronto Maple Leafs Retired Numbers
Turk Broda (1)
Johnny Bower (1)
Hap Day (4)
Red Kelly (4)
Bill Barilko (5)
Ace Bailey (6)
King Clancy (7)
Tim Horton (7)
Charlie Conacher (9)
Ted Kennedy (9)
Syl Apps (10)
George Armstrong (10)
Mats Sundin (13)
Dave Keon (14)
Wendel Clark (17)
Borje Salming (21)
Frank Mahovlich (27)
Darryl Sittler (27)
Doug Gilmour (93)
Top 10 Toronto Maple Leafs that Deserve Retired Numbers
In creating this list, I used stats and trophy voting comparing each player with players from their own era instead of comparing Toronto Maple Leafs players from different eras. It’s not fair to compare career point totals from the high-scoring eighties with the trap era nineties or the 48 game thirties.
I didn’t look at career totals much either, so players who played five seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs could rank as high as players who played 12 seasons with the Leafs. Because of this, some of the highest point producing Leafs of all-time like Ron Ellis and Bob Pulford didn’t make the list.
I also decided to only include players that had at least three great seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs. By great seasons, I mean there had to be a way to argue that they were among the top 10 in their position for at least three seasons as Maple Leafs. That is why Dave Andreychuk and Ed Belfour didn’t make the list as they both really only had two great seasons with the Leafs.
All the stats and awards I’ve listed where awarded while the players were on the Toronto Maple Leafs unless specified and I didn’t consider performances before or after each player was a member of the Toronto Leafs. The list of the Toronto Maple Leafs Top 100 released by the organization for their centennial season in 2016 was a great starting point.
(all stats from Hockey-Reference.com)
Let’s start with some honourable mentions: