The Toronto Maple Leafs are finally embracing a unified traditional look.
Timed perfectly to debut with the team’s 100th season, the Maple Leafs will be going all in on a heritage look to their identity; this after years of dancing with the idea via throwbacks worn as alternate uniforms, shoulder patches paying tribute to the earlier years, and a jump back to the simple blue-and-white colour scheme after a flirtation with silver. No longer will we see the modern “Ballard” leaf as the primary mark forced into an otherwise retro overall look, starting this fall it’s old school top to bottom for this team.
Revealed tonight on their history-themed “The Leaf: Blueprint” television series after much speculation, the new Maple Leafs logo plays heavily off of the logos used by the club from 1938 through 1967. The old 35-point leaf, which was worn on the alternate uniform for most of the 2000’s, has been cleaned up, stripped of a few of it’s points and the outline, and incorporates a cleaner, more modern font. The colour has also been darkened to match the same shade of blue used by the club since 1987.
Compare the old with the new here:
I gotta say, I do love that new leaf stem.
The reduction of leaf points from 35 to 31, and the veins from 18 to 17 was more than just an aesthetic choice, there’s some meaning behind those new numbers:
– The 31 points represent the year 1931, a pivotal year for the franchise, not only did they win their first Stanley Cup as the “Maple Leafs” but they also opened up the historic Maple Leaf Gardens.
– The 17 veins? Why, that’s for 1917, the first year of the Toronto Arenas
– Above the wordmark we see 13 veins for — you guessed it, Mats Sundin! Actually it’s 13 Stanley Cup championships by the Leafs franchise… So while the New York Islanders denote championships on their logo with hockey tape, next year the Leafs will do so with veins.
So… yeah, they’re doing that thing with the forced explanations for everything now, I can see the parts of Canada surrounding the Greater Toronto Area collectively rolling their eyes. Whatever happened to the super simple, super obvious Hartford Whalers method of “well, it’s a W for Whalers, H for Hartford, and a tail for whales“? Those days are long gone.
Bringing back the arched “TORONTO”? I love it. We haven’t seen that since 1970. Updating the font used for the wordmark in the leaf? Fantastic. Cleaning up the veins and the overall look of the classic logo? Well done, Reebok. Stand up and take a bow.
Quite simply, it’s a great look if you’re a fan of the Maple Leafs or a fan of hockey logos in general, but I can get really nitpicky about it if you guys insist…
While the Leafs logo timeline has shown a steady evolution to the shape of the leaf, eliminating points, veins, and overall simplifying itself over time, we’re suddenly stepping “backwards” in that progression.
See what I mean? More points, veins are back, more detail.
But really, honestly, that’s the only thing that bugs me about it. It’s a very minor thing. I’ll get over it. It’s not even worth mentioning.
What are the Maple Leafs saying about it? Team president Brendan Shanahan offered this quote in the press release:
“As an organization, we wanted to get back to our roots, when Conn Smythe first changed the team logo to the Maple Leaf in 1927. Inspired by the badge that he and his fellow Canadian soldiers wore during World War I, Smythe wanted his team to wear the badge with ‘honour, pride and courage’. This is our goal for the next chapter in Leafs history. We are committed to restoring the Toronto Maple Leafs to a proud and prominent place and this classic logo will connect the team’s championship legacy with an exciting and proud future for our players, our city and for our fans.”
So, hey, maybe we’ll see “honour, pride, and courage” written on the inner collar of the jersey, but more likely it’ll probably say “Leafs Nation”. We don’t know, but this isn’t our first rodeo either.
Continuing on that thought, no idea at all on what the uniforms will look like, they weren’t unveiled today. We can assume they’ll probably follow the same 1960s theme with a white leaf version being featured on a blue jersey, perhaps something like this?
Yeah, I know, that photo on the left is over a decade old, we’re looking at the uniform template here. Again, I have no idea about the uniform design, I’m just speculating here. Not sure what other direction they could go in without it looking… off?
That logo looks pretty sweet in on blue though.
Regardless, the uniforms will not be unveiled until the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo on June 24th, so there’s lots of time for all of us to play Photoshop Uniform Designer Pro 2016.
The Leafs also slid in the news that the Toronto Marlies, their AHL affiliate would also be updating their logo for 2016-17 (see their current logo here). The new Marlies logo takes the shape of the new Leafs logo and incorporates a crown on the front of it:
This season the Marlies have really played up the use of the crown of the Duke of Marlborough, their original namesake from their days as a junior team, it should come as no surprise that the club has decided to make use of it full-time. In fact, the new Marlies logo is pretty much what the old Ontario Hockey Association Toronto Marlboros team used for several years in the 1960s.
So, what are your thoughts? Do you think the team made the right decision in going back to the 60s, or should they have continued forward with the evolution of the maple leaf? Sound off in the comments!