The current group of the Toronto Maple Leafs may have trouble reaching the playoffs, but their predecessors from the 1960s certainly knew how to win it all.
Toronto won four Stanley Cups in the 1960s, including a stretch of three consecutive victories from 1962 to 1964. They would win another Cup (and their last Cup to date) in 1967, which might be the most impressive victory of the bunch: it was won by the oldest championship team in NHL history.
Members of the four triumphant squads were originally given one ring for their hard work and success. A new, larger diamond was added to the ring for each subsequent Cup the player won with the Buds. This departs from contemporary practice where a separate ring is awarded for each championship.
To rectify this problem and honour the great Leafs dynasty from the 1960s, the team will be handing out separate rings for each championship later this year. The rings will be distributed to Leafs legend Johnny Bower and around ten other players from this era during the three-day Fan Fest that opens the 2014-2015 season.
Bower welcomes the belated honour.
“I’m honoured if they want to do it and so are the rest of the guys,” he said yesterday. “I’m just glad they’re doing something for us older guys. They’re doing the right thing as far as I’m concerned.”
The decision to award separate rings for each championship isn’t free of controversy in Leafs Nation, however.
George Armstrong, who was captain of all four championship teams, is against such a gesture. He believes the single ring given to each player by former team owner Conn Smythe is special. From Armstrong’s perspective, “Everyone gets one ring and what they do with it is their business.”
Red Kelly, on the other hand, is open to the idea and sees it as a late, but deserved acknowledgement of success. This is especially true for the belated ring he received from the Detroit Red Wings after winning four Cups with them in the 1950s.
Moving forward, Leafs fans can expect many more acknowledgements of the team’s proud and illustrious past. The Leafs celebrate their centennial in 2017 and hope to host all of the NHL’s major events that season.
What are your thoughts on the rings? What are your thoughts on the Leafs’ centennial?
Let us know in the comments section below.
(You can find the full details about the rings here from Mark Zwollinski at the Toronto Star.)