Over the past 30 years, the Toronto Maple Leafs have had a lot of ups and downs. Two close Stanley Cup Finals berths, three 100-point seasons, and tons of amazing players.
But lately, the team's play has brought about much talk of rebuilding and how the Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the worst teams in the league this season. Although that may be true, there have been much worse teams over the past 30 years.
To make people feel better about the situation the Leafs are in, here are the top 10 worst Maple Leaf teams over the past 30 years.
10. 1991-1992 — 67 Points
Top Scorer: Glenn Anderson, 59 Points
Starting Goalie: Grant Fuhr
This was the season that goalie Felix Potvin played his first games in the NHL. It was also the season that the Leafs traded for fan favorite Doug Gilmour, this team had the building blocks in place for a successful team. The problem is not all the pieces were quite ready to be put in place. But as most Leafs' fans know, it got a lot better from here.
Notable Players: Glenn Anderson, Dave Ellett, Wendel Clark, Doug Gilmour, Jamie Macoun, Grant Fuhr
9. 1997-1998 — 69 Points
Top Scorer: Mats Sundin, 74
Starting Goalie: Felix Potvin
Mats Sundin outscored the next leading scorer by 27 points by season's end. It was the first full season where Mats Sundin was captain, to many fans' dismay. The team was missing Doug Gilmour, who was traded to New Jersey the season before. This team was the last team I can remember where they had a platoon of young talent which they eventually traded away for veterans.
Notable Players: Mats Sundin, Mike Johnson, Sergei Berezin, Wendel Clark, Tie Domi, Felix Potvin, Glenn Healy
8. 1983-1984 — 61 Points
Top Scorer: Rick Vaive, 93
Starting Goalie: Allan Bester/Mike Palmateer
This was one of the best teams from the Harold Ballard era, which isn't saying much, but the Toronto Maple Leafs were young at every position. It was also the year that Mike Palmateer passed the starting goaltender torch to the under-appreciated Allan Bester, who played his rookie year that year. Finally, Rick Vaive had his third consecutive 50-goal season that year, which was a feat that he would never reach again.
Notable Players: Rick Vaive, Bill Derlago, Borje Salming, Gary Leeman, Russ Courtnall, Bob McGill, Allan Bester, Mike Palmateer
7. 1988-1989 — 62 Points
Top Scorer: Ed Olczyk, 90
Starting Goalie: Allan Bester/Ken Wregget
This season was the last season that Leaf legend Borje Salming donned a Leafs jersey. He went to the Detriot Red Wings for one more season, then completed his career in Sweden. Ed Olczyck had his most successful season this year, reaching the 90-point mark for the only time in his career. Harold Ballard's reign as Leafs owner was almost at an end and this is where the turning point was made for starting to build a successful franchise.
Notable Players: Vincent Damphousse, Ed Olczyk, Allan Bester, Al Iafrate, Borje Salming, Wendel Clark, Russ Courtnall
6. 1996-1997 — 68 Points
Top Scorer: Mats Sundin, 94
Starting Goalie: Felix Potvin
One of the most tragic seasons in recent history, the Toronto Maple Leafs had a fire sale for players, trading the likes of Kirk Muller, Larry Murphy, Dave Ellett, and most tragically, Doug Gilmour. The Leafs were starting a youth movement, trading for prospects and draft picks. The thing to remember is that it took only two years for the team to come back as one of the top teams in the league, going all the way to the conference finals.
Notable Players: Mats Sundin, Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark, Larry Murphy, Sergei Berezin, Kirk Muller, Dave Ellett, Felix Potvin
5. 1983-1984 — 57 Points
Top Scorer: Miroslav Frycer, 75
Starting Goalie: Don Edwards/Ken Wregget
This team was a very young team that had a lot of rookie and breakthrough performances. Steve Thomas and Wendel Clark played their rookie seasons with the Maple Leafs while Russ Courtnall and Al Iafrate had breakthrough years. This season was also a breakthrough year for Miroslav Frycer, who was the first European to ever lead the Leafs in points for a season. Sadly, these breakthrough performances didn't make the Leafs successful, as they finished in the basement of the NHL.
Notable Players: Russ Courtnall, Rick Vaive, Steve Thomas, Wendel Clark, Al Iafrate, Gary Leeman, Borje Salming, Bob McGill
4. 1981-1982 — 56 points
Top Scorer: Rick Vaive, 89
Starting Goalie: Michel Larocque/Vincent Tremblay
This was a very historical year for the Maple Leafs for a couple of reasons. Daryl Sittler played his final games as a Maple Leaf before being traded to the Philadelphia Flyers, Rick Vaive became the first Toronto Maple Leaf to ever score 50 goals in a season, and Bill Derlago had his most successful season as a player, netting 34 goals while getting 84 points. But with all these events happening, Daryl Sittler's issues with management effected both team play and morale as Toronto had one of there worst seasons in history.
Notable Players: Daryl Sittler, Rick Vaive, Bill Derlago, Borje Salming, Rene Robert, Wilf Paiement
3. 1990-1991 — 57 Points
Top Scorer: Vincent Damphousse, 73
Starting Goalie: Peter Ing
Probably one of the lowest-scoring teams in history, the Leafs second highest scorer was Mike Krushelnyski with 39 points, which is a 34-point differential from their leading scorer, Vincent Damphousse. In all, 48 different players were used throughout the season and none really stuck. It was a very forgettable year for the Leafs nation.
Notable Players: Vincent Damphousse, Dave Ellett, Rob Ramage, Wendel Clark, Gary Leeman, Al Iafrate
2. 1987-1988 — 52 Points
Top Scorer: Ed Olczyk, 75
Starting Goalie: Ken Wregget/Allan Bester
By some miracle of God, the Leafs made it to the playoffs because the only other team that was worse then the Leafs was in the same division as them. Almost every player for the Leafs had a down year or was injured. The only real high point was that Al Iafrate had a career year with 22 goals and 52 points. It was a very forgettable year once again.
Notable Players: Ed Olczyk, Al Iafrate, Allan Bester, Borje Salming, Gary Leeman, Wendel Clark, Vincent Damphousse, Russ Courtnall
1. 1984-1985 — 48 Points
Top Scorer: Rick Vaive, 68
Starting Goalies: Tim Bernhardt/Allan Bester
If you think the Leafs team we have now is bad, listen to this. This team has the worst point total by any Leafs team ever to play 80 games. They were 14 points out of a playoff spot and only had one player with a plus rating (Walt Poddunby) who was only plus-1. That includes every player to play a game for the Maple Leafs that season. The only bright spot you can find from this season is that because they were so bad, they got the first overall pick, and guess who that pick was. Wendel Clark.
So, if you are ever watching a Leafs game and they are down 2-0 in the first, just remember that this is a building process. It takes time to stock prospects and it has to get bad before it gets good. I am sure that these teams are the perfect example of that.