The Franchise Four. The Mount Rushmore. Four players who tell the story of an organization. In this series I’ll be taking a look at the history of all 30 NHL squads. For criteria, I’m choosing one forward, defenceman, goaltender and a wild card from any position.
An “Original Six” squad, there’s no shortage of sensational star power with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Since becoming the Maple Leafs in 1927, the Maple Leafs have won eleven Stanley Cup titles.
Through the years the team has boasted the likes of, Mats Sundin, Darryl Sittler, Tim Horton, Turk Broda, Johnny Bower, Dave Keon, George Armstrong, Frank Mahovlich, Borje Salming, Ron Ellis, Rick Vaive, Bob Pulford, Ted Kennedy, Doug Gilmour, Harry Lumley, Felix Potvin, Hap Day, Red Kelly, King Clancy, Charlie Conacher, Syl Apps and Wendel Clark.
So, which players make their “Franchise Four?”
4. The Goalie – Turk Broda
A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Broda was a four-time All-Star and helped guide the Maple Leafs to five Stanley Cup championships. A two-time Vezina Trophy winner, Broda led the league in games played eight times, wins once, goals-against average and shutouts twice and minutes five times. Across 101 postseason contests, Broda won 60 games, posting a goals-against average of 1.98 and 13 shutouts. In Maple Leafs franchise history, Broda ranks first in games played (629), wins (302), shutouts (62), minutes (38,167) and ninth in goals-against average (2.53).
3. The Defenseman – Tim Horton
A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. A seven-time All-Star, Horton won four Stanley Cup titles with Toronto. While with Toronto, Horton finished in the top four in Norris Trophy voting on six occasions. Horton led the league in games played, seven times. Additionally, Horton ranked first in defensive point shares twice. Known for his durability, toughness and puck possession prowess, Horton earned NHL First Team All-Star honors on three occasions. Horton’s consecutive games streak of 486 straight, is a Toronto record. In Maple Leafs franchise history, Horton ranks second in games played (1,185), seventh in assists (349) and fourth in penalty minutes (1,389).
2. The Wild Card – Darryl Sittler
A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Across 12 seasons with Toronto, Sittler was a three-time All-Star. Sittler still holds an NHL record for most points recorded in a single game, registering ten points against the Boston Bruins in 1976. A former Maple Leafs captain, Sittler accumulated four seasons of 40 or more goals and nine seasons of more than 30 markers. In Maple Leafs franchise history, Sittler ranks ninth in games played (844), second in goals (389), points (916), goals created (361.2), power play goals (120), third in assists (527), even strength goals (261) and fourth in game-winning goals (42).
1. The Forward – Mats Sundin
A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Sundin played 13 seasons with Toronto and was an eight-time All-Star. Sundin was a solid all around forward with the Maple Leafs. Sundin is the only Swedish player thus far to reach the 500-goal plateau. During his time with Toronto, Sundin registered a pair of 40-goal seasons and accrued 30-goals or more in ten campaigns. In Maple Leafs franchise history, Sundin ranks sixth in games played (981), first in goals (420), points (987), goals created (381.3), even strength goals (273), power play tallies (124), game-winning goals (79) and second in helpers (567) and short-handed goals (23).
Michael Gwizdala covers the New York Islanders for The Hockey Writers. Michael is also an Associate Producer at WNYT NewsChannel 13. Additionally, Michael was once a Media Relations intern for the AHL Albany River Rats. Michael is a graduate of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.