Wednesday, December 12, 2012

This Day in 1980's Leaf History; Dec. 12, 1984

Sick of waiting for the asses of the NHL and PA to solve their seemingly minuscule differences, I'm going to delve into a topic near and dear to my heart...the Toronto Maple Leafs of the 1980's. Why this time period? The Leafs of the 80's were awful. They never had more than 71 points in a season and won only two playoff series. But, this was my childhood and for some reason I still loved them. In lieu of looking at current NHL hockey, let's look at this day in 1980's Leaf history; a decade of crap.

"No Joke-Leafs Now Worst Team" exclaimed the headline by the Canadian Press on December 12, 1984. The Vancouver Canucks had won their second in a row the previous night to climb ahead of Toronto and out of the NHL's basement. The Leafs 4-19-5 record was one point behind the Canucks.

In an attempt to break their 10-game winless streak, Toronto called up their second new goaltender of the week. Rick St.Croix was summoned from St.Catherines of the AHL and sent 20 year-old Allan Bester down. Just a few days before, Toronto re-called Tim Berhardt and sent Ken Wregget to the farm.

With the Leafs struggling as they were, the Gardens faithful had recently taken to donning paper-bags on their heads and chanting, "We want Albert". This was a nod to the popular Canadian Tire commercial of the time in which a player rises to stardom after being shunned on the pond as a child.
Check it out below.

Man, that brings back memories. I'm still not sure why Albert wore his first name on his sweater's nameplate. Anyway, the Leafs sure could have used a player like Albert.

St.Croix and the Leafs would surprise the second overall Philadelphia Flyers on this night with a 6-3 victory, prompting paper-bags to be thrown aside for the moment. The Flyers would lead 2-0 after one before the Leafs finally woke up. Peter Ihnacak potted two and Stewart Gavin one as the Leafs scored three on 18 shots against Pelle Lindbergh. Bill Derlago, Mirko Frycer and Gavin with his second rounded out the Leaf 6-3 win.

Alas, the chants for "Albert" and the bag-headed fans returned soon after as Toronto dropped 11 of the next 12. By January 10, they possessed a record of 6-30-5 for 17 points. At this point they were fully entrenched in the league basement, 8 behind Vancouver. They finished the season with 48 points, still last overall. They would draft their "Albert", Wendel Clark  with the first overall pick in 1985.

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