Despite many believing that the NHL’s Original Six franchises all started at the same time, the Toronto Maple Leafs are actually the second-oldest active franchise in the league, with only the Montreal Canadiens having a longer history. Over the years, the Maple Leafs have had some incredible seasons, 13 of which have ended with the team hoisting the Stanley Cup.
That’s second on the list only to, again, Montreal. However, you don’t have to have a championship season to ultimately have a great season. There have been times in which the Maple Leafs have had dominating regular seasons which were memorable, even if they didn’t end with a Cup. Let’s take a look at the five greatest Maple Leaf seasons regardless of playoff finish (in no particular order).
While history might end up forgetting just how good the Maple Leafs were in 2021-22 for various reasons, it was the best regular season performance in franchise history based on points percentage. The Maple Leafs finished with 115 points and a record of 54-21-7. Somehow, that was only good enough for second place in the Atlantic as the Florida Panthers had a historic season with 122 points.
The reason why so many want to forget the season was because of the first-round result in the playoffs. As the two-seed, the Maple Leafs had to face a tough Tampa Bay Lightning team. Toronto held a 3-2 series advantage but lost 4-3 in overtime in game six, then at home lost 2-1 in game seven.
There were six teams that laced their skates for the 1950-51 NHL season, but two of them were head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. To put things into context, the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins made the playoffs with 65 and 62 points each, respectively. The Maple Leafs finished with a whopping 95, and that was only good enough for second place.
The Detroit Red Wings took home the honor of having the most points with 101, but the Maple Leafs still had a 41-16-13 record, winning their final seven regular season games. After Montreal upset Detroit in the semis, though, it made for one of the most memorable Stanley Cup Finals ever. Toronto defeated Montreal in five games to win the Cup, with all five of those games going to overtime.
The legendary Conn Smythe was the general manager for the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 1934-35 season that saw them put up one of their most dominant performances. The Leafs finished with a record of 30-14-4, putting them 11 points ahead of the second-place Montreal Maroons in a five-team league.
Charlie Conacher led the way for all Maple Leafs scorers, putting up an impressive 57 points in just 47 games. Busher Jackson (44) and Joe Primeau (30) were also big contributors as the Maple Leafs made the Stanley Cup Finals. However, the season ended with a 3-1 series loss to the second-place Maroons.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2019-2020 season was pushed back to the point where the 2020-21 season was abbreviated. There were only 56 games played that season, but the Maple Leafs were dominant during that time. Toronto finished with a record of 35-14-7, earning 77 points to put them on the top of the North Division standings which was comprised exclusively of Canadian teams.
Being named the best in Canada was a big deal, even if it didn’t lead to playoff success. The Maple Leafs squared off against the Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs and built a 3-1 series lead before losing in seven games. Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews had big seasons for the Leafs, putting up 67 and 66 points, respectively.
During the 1947-48 NHL season, there were only six teams in the league as the NHL focused on rebuilding following World War II. The Red Wings and Maple Leafs duked it out through the entire season, finishing with a record of 6-2-4 against Detroit. Overall, the Leafs had the best record at 32-15-13, finishing five points ahead of the Red Wings in the standings.
Toronto had the best defense in the league and it came through clutch when they played Detroit in the 1948 Stanley Cup. Toronto took the first two games at home 5-3 and 4-2, then dominated in Detroit with 2-0 and 7-2 wins to claim the Stanley Cup, sweeping the Red Wings in their home stadium. Syl Apps was the top player of the season, putting up 53 points in 55 games during his final year.