42 years of waiting

The Leafs won their most recent Stanley Cup 42 years ago today, on May 2, 1967.

As Toronto fans continue to mourn over the length of the perpetual championship drought, here are some reflections:

  • Goaltender Curtis Joseph was three days old on the day of the Leafs’ last Cup. The Keswick, Ontario native was born on April 29 of that year, the same day as Game Five of the final, won by the Leafs in Montreal by a score of 4-1.
  • The Detroit Red Wings endured a 42-year Cup drought from 1955-1997. Since then, Motown has claimed hockey’s Holy Grail four times, and are in contention for another Cup this spring.
  • 42 is the answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything, according to the late British sci-fi author Douglas Adams. Yet even he had no answer for the Leafs’ woes.
  • Three Leafs have worn the sweater number 42: Kevyn Adams, David Cooper, and (lo and behold) Kyle Wellwood, who currently has four points in 5 playoff games so far, for the Vancouver Canucks.
  • The #1 song on Billboard’ top 100 on May 2, 1967 was “Somethin’ Stupid” by Nancy and Frank Sinatra. (And, it just gets easier for Leafs fans to be a target of critics).
  • The only Leaf to wear the sweater number 67 was defenceman Robert Svehla, who played all 82 games for the team in 2002-03. “He took a fair bit of heat for picking the number,” former assistant GM Bill Watters told writer Scott Morrison in the book By The Numbers. “People thought he was poking fun at the last Cup year, but I don’t think he was. He wasn’t that kind of kid. I think he was simply acknowledging it.”
  • The Prime Minister of Canada on May 2, 1967 was Lester B. Pearson. Canada has seen eight Prime Ministers since then: Pierre Trudeau, Joe Clark, John Turner, Brian Mulroney, Kim Campbell, Jean Chretien, Paul Martin and Stephen Harper.
  • The President of the United States on the date of the Leafs last Stanley Cup was Lyndon B. Johnson. The U.S. has seen eight presidents since then: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
  • The Leafs have not only failed to win the Cup in any of the past forty-two seasons, but have not been back to the Stanley Cup Final in all that time. Since then, the NHL has expanded from six to thirty teams. Of the 30 current NHL teams, the Leafs share the Cup Final drought with just six other clubs: Atlanta, Columbus, Minnesota, Nashville, Phoenix/Winnipeg and San Jose.
  • The Leafs top line in the 1967 playoffs of Jim Pappin (15 points), Pete Stemkowski (12 points) and Bob Pulford (11 points) led the entire league in post-season scoring (Pulford was actually tied with Jean Beliveau with 11 points). No single forward line led the entire NHL playoffs in scoring again until 2007, when Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson each had 22 points as the Ottawa Senators lost to Anaheim in the Stanley Cup Final.
  • The 1967 Maple Leafs are currently the first team with their names engraved on the second ring of the Stanley Cup. At the end of the 2016-17 season, the top (first) ring will be retired with each of the four lower ring moved up one spot to make room for a new fifth ring. Each ring has room to list 13 teams. So, if the Leafs don’t win the Stanley Cup before the end of the 2029-2030 season when the next ring is retired, then the most famous trophy in hockey will have no representation of the Maple Leafs on it.

20 years to go, guys. The clock is ticking.

Rob Del Mundo is the author of Blue And White Beat, and will be blogging at TMLfans.ca throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs.