Saturday, January 18, 2014

Harold Ballard Predicts Leafs Cup

I found this little snippet in an old Hockey News, it's just too good not to share.

March 21, 1980
"Take it from Harold Ballard, the Maple Leafs will win the Stanley Cup next season.
The bombastic owner of the Leafs has predicted that his team will do it next season. "People would think I would have to be smoking marijuana to predict that we would win it this year, but we will definitely win the cup next year," commented Ballard.
Ballard cleared the air in regards to Punch Imlach, his general manager, and Darryl Sittler, his former team captain. He said he had much faith in Imlach and that he was an excellent manager and great student of the game. "I venture to say that when he gets through doing the job, we will be tough to beat."
Ballard said it would take some trade to get rid of Sittler, who has become the team's hottest scorer in recent weeks."

Over his previous 17 games to this point, Sittler had scored 15 goals and 19 assists as the Leafs went 9-7-1 to climb from 15th to 11th place in the overall standings. He would finish with 97 points in 73 games in 1979/80 and Toronto remained in 11th place in the NHL. They were swept in three games by Minnesota.

The following year, Ballard's predicted Cup winning year the Leafs squeaked into the final playoff spot by one point led by Sittler , Wilf Paiement and goaltender Jiri Chra. Once again, they were swept  in three first round games by the New York Islanders. So much for Ballard's prediction.

As for Sittler, he was shipped to the Flyers halfway through the next season for what amounted to Rich Costello, Peter Ihnacak and Ken Strong, showing that Ballard was capable of making ridiculous predictions and hockey decisions on a near daily basis.

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