Time for another journey back in time via our Who Were They? series. There's more hockey history on the docket (click the links for our Original Six and Class of '67 pieces), though this time we'll be looking at the history of an individual team, the Toronto St. Pats.
Think of hockey in Toronto and one thing comes to mind: the Maple Leafs and their famous blue and white. The Leafs are one of the National Hockey League's Original Six teams, the core group that battled between 1946 and 1967. The franchise has been around since the dawn of the league in 1917 and is still beloved despite having not won a Stanley Cup since 1967.
Their look – blue shirt, white leaf, and white stripes – is so iconic, and has remained largely untouched for so long, that many tend to think it's been that way forever. In actual fact, the Leafs were not always the Leafs. The franchise had two previous identities; first they were the "Arenas," from 1917-1919, and then they became the "St. Patricks." It was in 1927 that the now-famous "Maple Leafs" moniker came to be when Conn Smyth took over and wanted something more uniquely Canadian.
The St. Pats name was decided upon for promotional reasons; there was a visible Irish population settling in Toronto and ownership thought branding the team in such a way would get bums in seats. As you can imagine, the St. Pats wore green and white, providing an eight-year colour deviation. And during this period they managed one Stanley Cup win, in 1921-22. Despite this win the St. Pats ownership group would suffer through a few inclement years financially and looked to sell. In stepped Smyth, and the rest is history.
Though the St. Pats years were relatively uneventful – under the Maple Leafs moniker the club would win numerous Cups – this previous identity remains popular. The Leafs wore St. Pats throwback jerseys last season as part of their centenary celebrations, and they're doing so again this year. In back-to-back games, on March 15 and 16, the St. Pats will live again. The timing is no doubt intentional as March 17 is St. Patrick's Day.
We've always been fond of the green years here at the gallery and try to feature at least one St. Pats item each season. This time around we've done a number of custom-made products, but undoubtedly the best is our "Statesman" hat by American Needle. It has that old-school shape and feel, and a beautiful shade of green. Even if you're not a Leafs fan you can appreciate its charms!