Since the 2007-08 change to the new Reebok style jerseys in the NHL, one of the original six NHL franchises has looked like they were wearing a t-shirt instead of a jersey. Everyone should know the saying "dress for success”—well, the Leafs have not had much success since the jersey change.
The change to the Leafs jersey for the 2007-08 season was the removal of the shoulder patch and the removal of the stripes at the bottom of the jersey. Since then, they have not looked like they are an original six franchise team with many years of history in the league.
What has the team's regular season record been since the changes to the jerseys took place in 2007-08? See below for a season-by-season breakdown.
The 2007-08 season saw them win 36, lose 35 in regulation, lose 11 in overtime or shootout for 83 points; this was good enough for last place in the Northeast division.
The 2008-09 season saw them win 34, lose 35 in regulation, lose 13 in overtime or shootout for 81 points; this was good enough for last place in the Northeast division for a second consecutive year.
The 2009-10 season saw them win 30, lose 38 in regulation, lose 14 in overtime or shootout for 74 points; this was good enough for last place in the Northeast division for a third consecutive year and last place in the Eastern Conference. They also finished second to last in the entire league.
In the three seasons since the 2007-08 jersey changes, the Leafs have been mediocre at best. In 246 games they have won 100, lost 108 in regulation and lost 38 in overtime or a shootout. That means they have won 40.6 percent of their games in the past three seasons.
Were they better before the jersey changes? Let's take a look at the three seasons prior to 2007-08 to find out.
The 2006-07 season saw them win 40, lose 31 in regulation, lose 11 in overtime or shootout for 91 points. With this record, they placed third in the Northeast division but were not able to qualify for the playoffs.
The 2005-06 season saw them win 41, lose 33 in regulation, lose 8 in overtime or shootout for 90 points. This record allowed them to place fourth in the Northeast division and miss the playoffs.
The 2004-05 season was cancelled by the lockout, so we will include 2003-04 in this analysis. Keep in mind prior to the lockout there was no shootout; teams would either lose in overtime or tie the game.
The 2003-04 season saw them win 45, lose 24 in regulation, tie 10 times, lose 3 in overtime for 103 points. This season they placed second in the Northeast Division and it was also the last time Toronto saw playoff hockey. The Leafs lost in the conference semifinal in the sixth game of the series.
Now let's take a look at the Leafs' total record in the three seasons prior to the 2007-08 jersey changes. In 246 games they have won 126, lost 88 in regulation, tied 10, and lost 22 in overtime or a shootout. That means they have won 51.2 percent of their games in the past three seasons.
What a difference in the two three year periods. From 2007-08 to 2009-10 they won 40.6 percent of their games, and from 2003-04 to 2006-07 (with a cancelled 2004-05 season due to the lockout) they won 51.2 percent of their games.
This is not to say that the jersey has been the reason for the Toronto Maple Leafs downfall. There are many contributory factors that have been discussed at great length by many people, but we will stay away from that territory in this article.
What changes are being made to the jerseys for the 2010-11 NHL season?
The horizontal striping and the shoulder patch will be returned to the sweater in time for next season. The Leafs had applied to change the jerseys in April 2009, but were not able to make the changes in time for the 2009-10 season.
There is no confirmation of what the shoulder patch will be, but I personally like the smaller leaf that was used from 1992-2000 more than the "TML" that was used afterwards.
Toni Anselmi, the current Chief Operating Officer of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, has also indicated that the current third jersey will not be changed this year, although they do have plans to change it for the 2011-12 season.
He is quoted in the National Post as saying, "It's premature to get into a lot of specifics. But we're going to change the third jersey. When you get into the Leafs history, it gets real fascinating. When you go back, there's all kinds of intricate changes."
Currently, the Leafs employ a white jersey circa the mid-1960s as their third jersey. I personally would like to see them use the Stanley Cup-wining jersey of 1963 as the third jersey. Click here to see an example at LeafsHQ.com.
Slowly but surely, Brian Burke is rebuilding this team and bringing them back to respectability. The Leafs current President and General Manager have not overlooked even a smaller detail such as the uniforms.