New Toronto Marlies Alts Hit Close to Home

Written By:  •  Monday, October 1, 2012

Over the weekend the Toronto Marlies, AHL affiliate to the Toronto Maple Leafs, unveiled a new alternate jersey for their upcoming 2012-13 season and thankfully this one doesn’t have a cartoon dog biting a hockey puck on it like the last one did.

The jersey is a direct copy (minus the RONA sponsor patch) of the uniform worn by the Ontario Hockey League’s Toronto Marlboros during their final 20-or-so seasons.  The Marlboros, commonly referred to as The Marlies by fans and media, were the inspiration behind name of the current AHL franchise, something the team acknowledged during their first few seasons by way of a shoulder patch.  That team also had an affiliation with the Maple Leafs and wore the Leafs jerseys with a crown on the leaf insignia instead of the team script.

New Marlies alts based off of the Toronto Marlboros OHL jerseys, worn from 1970-89

What makes this jersey a little extra special for me is it’s the first uniform I ever saw in person at a live sporting event.  Cue the trip down memory lane…

“It was Easter weekend and I knew everything would be closed so I decided to buy tickets to the game… I heard it was possibly the last game ever for the Marlies so decided to take Chris along even though he wasn’t really into sports” – My Dad.

My family and I were visiting my grandparents in Cornwall, Ontario for the Easter long weekend in March of 1989. As my dad recalled above, it was indeed the last season in the history of the Toronto Marlboros; owner Harold Ballard had announced he would be selling the team, severing their ties with the Maple Leafs, and the team was going down the QEW to Hamilton following the season thus ending 85 seasons of Marlboros hockey.  Nice guy that Ballard was.

Here were the Marlies, now down 3-games-to-2 in their best-of-seven first round matchup with the hometown Cornwall Royals, making this game a little extra-special. Wait a second… did my dad say I wasn’t into sports?  Hard to imagine, but at the too-young-to-know-any-better age of six I suppose it was possible.

We had front row seats!  Sounds like a nice introduction to a live sporting event but anyone who’s ever been to a game at the old Cornwall Civic Complex can tell you that front row back in ’89 wasn’t exactly up against the glass like most arenas… “The seats were about 10 feet off the floor with a drop to ice level” adds my father, personally all I remember was being high up in the air and back away from the ice.

A view of the Cornwall Civic Complex from seats very close to where we were. This photo was taken after the seats in the lower bowl were added. (Photo courtesy Roamingtherinks.com)

The Marlboros took to the ice for the pre-game warmup and my little brain thought they were the Maple Leafs, my keen attention to logo detail was present back then as I saw the crown on the logo – I noticed it immediately, but I explained it myself as “you can only see the crown when you’re in person, when you’re watching on tv you can see the words”.  It makes sense, don’t try arguing with a six year old.

My dad says I saw a player wind up to take a slap shot during those warmups and my jaw dropped as I let out an impressed “woaaaaaah!”, sounds like it was love at first sight.  A big fight right in front of us later in the game helped seal the deal.  I was hooked.

The jersey matchup from my first in-person sporting event… despite my theories at the time those guys weren’t the Maple Leafs with the crown only visible in-person

While I rooted on those Maple Le… sorry, Marlies (even yelling at them that they were skating the wrong way at the start of the second period), they just couldn’t pull it out, the Cornwall Royals slaughtered them to the tune of 12-3, or something else equally ridiculous, advancing them through to the second round.

That was it, the Marlies were done.  History.  Off to Hamilton where hockey teams go to thrive but end up getting little support.  I was a Marlboros fan for exactly one game before they relocated.  Talk about a rude introduction to the world of being a sports fan.  The Royals left town a couple of years later, if I wanted to experience a match between these two franchises today I’d have to watch the Guelph Storm take on the Sarnia Sting… it’s just not the same.

Fast forward 16 years, those Toronto Maple Leafs have relocated their AHL franchise from St. John’s to Toronto and chose to re-introduce the Marlies name to the local scene, my Marlies have returned!  When the inaugural pre-season schedule is announced the very first game is a neutral site matchup in my new hometown of Oshawa, Ontario – and it just happens to be against Hamilton, the city the original Marlies relocated to. I had to be there.

Toronto Marlies players line-up during the National Anthem prior to their first pre-season game in 2005

Echoing the events of 1989, we snatch up a two tickets only this time it’s me treating my dad to the game…  and wouldn’t ya know it, we’re back in the front row (a real front row this time).  Sure, there may have been a gap of 16 years in there but we’re going to two Marlies games in a row together, it was a memorable moment for sure. To top it all off the Marlies don’t disappoint, beating the Hamilton Bulldogs 5-2.

Since that moment I’ve been to quite a few Marlies games, none with my dad but instead with various friends and ex-girlfriends of years past, I was even a partial season ticket holder one season. Encounters with somewhat agressive security when it comes to camera lenses have turned me off from attending any games since that season; I haven’t been back at all since 2007.

The allure of seeing those old classics back in action just might be enough for me to put aside my gripes with security to come back down for a game or two, they’ll be worn every Sunday home game but honestly right now all I care about is to having that beauty of a jersey hanging up in my closet.  I need to have it.

Well done Marlies, another step in the right direction.

Article Categories:

Share This Article

Related News

About Author

Chris Creamer

Chris Creamer is the founder of SportsLogos.Net and has been maintaining it since June 1997. You can follow him on Twitter at @sportslogosnet or contact him via email at ccreamer@sportslogos.net

  • Kristen Meyer

    Great story!

  • Ryan Petrynka

    As an almost lifelong resident of Cornwall, Ontario, I know exactly what you were talking about when you mentioned the front row seats being far from front row.

    http://www.ohlarenaguide.com/cornwall2.jpg

    Look at that pic there. The big grey concrete slab between the blue seats and the red seats was where the seating began. “The Moat” as Cornwallites called it was one of the many complaints about the arena’s set up. The red rink-level seats were added in the mid 2000s, roughly 15 years after the Royals left town for Newmarket and eventually became the Sarnia Sting.

    Currently the CCHL Jr. A Cornwall Colts and LNAH’s Cornwall River Kings call the Civic Complex home.

  • Marc

    I guess the first professional sport I ever saw was a Houston Astros v Montreal Expos game at the Astrodome in 1979. That means I saw red, white, blue and powder blue against orange, yellow, and red. Wow! Love the memory trip.

  • ingmar66

    Great story, Chris! Reminds me of the first US Sports game I saw on Dutch soil: The old Amsterdam Rams football team playing the Cologne Crocodiles.

    • Chris Creamer

      Wow, what league was that? Predecessor of the old WLAF?

  • Bruno

    Hey Chris,

    This doesn’t really have to do with the article but I read that you are from Oshawa! I’m an Oshawa boy myself..I’m currently a Grade 12 student at M.J.Pereyma C.S.S. and it’s glad to know that people from the Sh’wa are out there doing something great!

    • Chris Creamer

      Thanks Bruno! Actually just moved from the Sh’wa last spring but I spent a good chunk of my life there… went to O’Neill for high school, ate lunch everyday at Parkwoods until security kicked us out… after OCVI went to Durham College for a three-year program.

      Spent 4 years working at what used to be the A&P grocery store at Midtown Mall (King/Wilson area) and another 3 years running durhamregion.com at the Oshawa This-Week building just around the corner from Pereyma.

      Glad you enjoy the site!