Tuesday, February 16, 2016

THE ELUSIVE GREEN MAPLE LEAF


On February 2, the Toronto Maple Leafs made a huge splash when they unveiled their new logo, which is pictured above. The entire uniform will make its debut at the 2016 Draft.

The new logo contains several features that recognizes the Maple Leafs past accomplishments and important dates in the history of the franchise. The 31 point Maple Leaf pays homage to when the club moved from Arena Gardens on Mutual Street to their new home at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1931. A total of 17 veins are shown on the crest. This number represents the year the franchise was formed and entered the newly created National Hockey League in 1917. The 13 veins situated at the very top (4 right, 6 centre & 3 left) acknowledges the 13 Stanley Cups won by the Toronto Arenas, St. Pats and Maple Leafs.



While most of the franchise logos have been documented since 1917, there is one period of time that lacks detail. When Conn Smythe and his partners purchased the St. Pats on February 14, 1927, they decided to rename their new acquisition the Toronto Maple Leafs.



In the February 15, 1927, edition of The Toronto Telegram, an article (above) shed light on the new-look Maple Leafs:

 The club will be called the Maple Leaf Hockey Club. The old green and white sweaters of the St. Pat's will go into discard. On Thursday night against New York Americans here, the local boys will sport these new sweaters. They will be white with a green maple leaf...


The opening paragraph in The Globe story (above - Feb. 18/27) on the Toronto Maple Leafs first contest made note that they were, "...bedecked in new uniforms, a new name, and playing under new management..."

A review of the Toronto newspapers - Toronto Daily Star, The Globe, The Star Weekly, The Telegram, The Mail & Empire - failed  to turn up a photograph of the Maple Leafs new threads. The search stretched from February 1927 to the end of the 1926-27 season. Also, several out-of-town newspapers were checked, but no photos were found.

To properly appreciate the full affect of viewing a green Maple Leaf crest, a colour photo would be the best image. Like the attempts to secure a black and white team issued or press picture, the hunt for a colour version came up empty.

A Google image search produced several photos, but didn't expose a green Maple Leaf as opposed to a blue Maple Leaf. The only interesting aspect is the fact an all-white sweater is shown.


The above picture of Joe Primeau is an example of an all-white jersey. Obviously, there is no way to tell if the logo is green or blue. A review of Primeau's fact sheet on the Society for International Hockey Research website revealed that the centre for Toronto's famed Kid Line didn't play for the Leafs until the 1927-28 campaign. This leads to the possibility of the post-sale jersey being a hand-me-down for future Leaf players to wear in practice or at special events. This is only speculation and an authentic/documented colour picture is the only true visual evidence of a green Maple Leaf.

In a media guide, the Toronto Maple Leafs noted:

Now in charge of Toronto's National Hockey League entry, Smythe's patriotic pride led him to decide on a Maple Leaf as the team's nickname and crest...the uniform colours remained green and white for a year after he purchased the team out of respect for the previous organization. He then changed the colours to blue and white...

 The reference to the colour's remaining green and white could also include a green Maple Leaf, but the guide doesn't come right out and confirm the logo was green.



In 1927-28, the Toronto Maple Leafs donned their new blue and white uniform (above photos).  At this point, the elusive green Maple Leaf disappeared.

  








3 comments:

  1. Interesting article. I have been trying to establish what that first green leaf looked like. Some sources indicate it might have been a green leaf with the words Toronto St Pats on it because Smythe was worried about losing players contracted to the Pats. That would be consistent with Coleman sketches in Trail of the Stanley Cup too.

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  2. Another interesting source is this pic/painting of Red Horner from La Presse I stumbled across http://www.adanacantiques.com/1930s.html

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  3. http://blog.heritagesportsart.com/2010/11/trail-of-stanley-cup.html?m=1

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