Maple Leafs are the New Stanley Cup Drought Kings



It’s over. Finally! The longest ongoing Stanley Cup drought no longer belongs to the Chicago Blackhawks. Hooray for the Hawks and their fans. They are very deserving champions. The Cup parade should be ridiculous.

The franchise has magnificently snapped a 49 year-old Stanley Cup famine. The Toronto Maple Leafs now own the longest rolling Stanley Cup drought. They are the only team left that has not experienced victory since the Original Six era, in days of yore. The King is dead. Long live the King.

Younger hockey enthusiasts already know the Toronto Maple Leafs have been just about the worst team in hockey over the past five years. What some people tend to overlook is just how bad this franchise has been overall since they last sipped from Lord Stanley’s chalice in 1967, just before the summer of love when Sgt. Pepper was still a Private. The Leafs have missed the playoffs entirely a dreadful 15 times since then.

During their Cup-winning dearth, the Blackhawks at least made the Stanley Cup Final three times. They were second best in the league in 1971, ’73 and ’92, settling for the silver medal. The Leafs, on the other hand haven’t been close. Their fans have not even enjoyed a Stanley Cup Final series since ’67, let alone a Cup championship. In fact, since 1980, all participating playoff teams have had to win four playoff series in one playoff season to be crowned champions. The Leafs have never won more than two playoff series in any season in NHL history.

Strong Drafting Helps Build a Winning Franchise

Team Europe World Cup RosterDuring their 49 year Cup drought going back to 1961, the Blackhawks failed to make the playoffs 10 times. Nine of those ten dry years were in the past 13 seasons since 1998. Of major concern to the team was the dwindling attendance numbers. It caught the eye of everyone, including the usually defensive Commissioner Gary Bettman who openly expressed dismay at the eroding fan bases in traditional markets like Chicago and Boston. It seems Chicago hockey fans were not interested in supporting a perpetual loser.

The Hawks bottomed out and reaped the rewards of top draft picks. Infused with a real sense of urgency, the Hawks also drafted wisely. Stalwart defenseman Duncan Keith was selected 54th overall in 2002. Dustin Byfuglien was chosen 245th overall in 2003, Brent Seabrook, 14th in 2003, Dave Bolland, 32nd in 2004 and Troy Brouwer, 214th in 2004. The Hawks carefully retained, nurtured and developed their talent to compliment the natural skills of higher picks Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Along with wise free agent signings and really solid, beneficial trades, they built a winner. The fans returned.

It says here the Toronto Maple Leafs, the new Cup drought leaders, will never bounce from near worst to first like Chicago did. Leafs fans are incapable of the stay-away, tough love necessary to spark real change. There are just too many hockey fans in and around Toronto that naturally align themselves with the home team. The Leafs are continuously guaranteed full houses and the highest revenues in the league. Thank the city’s culture of losing that is noted and pasted all over the place.

Maple Leafs Could Have Been a Contender

In 1996, before the Salary Cap, the Leafs had a chance to sign Wayne Gretzky as a free agent. It would have given them the awesome trio of Doug Gilmour, Mats Sundin and Gretzky down the middle and a very good chance at ending the eternal Leaf Cup drought. Leaf owners concluded that adding Gretzky could not fill a single additional seat that wasn’t already filled. The marginal financial benefit of signing him was zero. Gretzky went to the New York Rangers instead. He had more points in his first season with the Rangers than any Leaf player. The Leafs in turn traded away Gilmour that season and missed the playoffs again.

Leafs celebrate the 1964 Cup win.

It has been one horror story after another over the past 43 years for sorry Leafs fans. Their team has experienced the longest current Cup drought of all NHL teams and they can realistically expect it to last the rest of their lifetimes. From this minute forward, the longest ongoing Stanley Cup drought belongs to the Toronto Maple Leafs. How absolutely fitting!

5 thoughts on “Maple Leafs are the New Stanley Cup Drought Kings”

  1. I suppose it was just a matter of time before the Leafs’ “ascent to the throne” was brought up. A lot of people probably thought the Leafs already owned the longest Cup drought, but now it’s theirs and no one elses.

    As a Leafs fan, I (somehow) remain hopeful that a champion can be forged in Toronto. Seeing the Rangers (54 years), the Red Wings (42 years), and now the Blackhawks (49 years) snap their lenghty droughts gives me a glimmer of hope that it may one day happen for the Leafs. But this article points out the obvious problem, as MLSE is unconcerned about putting a winner on the ice as long as the seats remain filled and the ledger is in the black. While Brian Burke is far from a perfect GM (cough….Kessel….cough), it’s a step in the right direction that will require a commitment from Leafs management to keep him in that position for more than a couple years. This isn’t a quick-fix situation that Toronto is in, so both Burke and MLSE need to abdanon that mindset and take on a proper rebuild – something that’s never truly been done in T.O.

    Hopefully this article (and the one on TSN yesterday) will grace the desktop of Larry Tanenbaum, Richard Peddie, and the other criminals of MLSE so they can perhaps get a clue. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves….

    • Super Dave,
      I’ve never been a Leafs fan (living down the 401 and all..) but I must say it’s been a long time since I’ve been impressed with young Leafs talent. I saw a bunch of kids in blue and white jerseys last season that looked promising. It was quite refreshing.

  2. George:

    The first chance L.A. and St. Louis had to win the Cup was 1968. Their droughts are 42 years. The Leafs stand alone. It’s all over the papers today here in Toronto. I’ve done my research. The Leafs have this dubious distiction all to themselves. Sorry.

  3. Actually, you’re wrong. It’s now a 3 way tie with Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis . Maybe some research before psoting propoganda?

    • Hi George, thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Propaganda – I suppose..anybody that has read more than two of Mike’s posts know that he’s not a huge fan of the Leafs but in many ways the Leafs are asking for this kind of attention. Being in Montreal I hope that they will one day turn things around as a strong rivalry is great for hockey.
      If we want to get into semantics – the leafs last won the cup on May 2, 1967 while the Kings/Blues have not won since their first NHL game, around Oct. 11, 1967 but the point is clear – it’s been a long time since the Leafs have won.

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