Saturday, March 18, 2017

2016-17 Toronto Maple Leafs St. Patricks Throwback Auston Matthews Jersey

As a part of their Centennial celebrations, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be wearing throwback jerseys tonight as worn from 1922-23 to 1924-25 when the club was known as the Toronto St. Patricks.

The team began during the first season of the National Hockey League in 1917-18 as the Toronto Hockey Club, also known as the Toronto Blueshirts. The club won the NHL playoffs their first season and then defeated the Vancouver Millionaires of the PCHA 3 games to 2 to take the Stanley Cup in their very first try.

1917-18 Toronto Blueshirts team
The Stanley Cup champion 1917-18 Toronto Blueshirts

The following season, still wearing blue sweaters, the club became known as the Toronto Arena Hockey Club, named after the Arena Gardens rink which owned the club as a part of business maneuvers to protect themselves from legal action from the owner of the previous Toronto franchise that played in the previous National Hockey Association. The team was more commonly referred to as the Toronto Arenas for the 1918-19 season. The Arenas quickly ran into financial difficulties and were sold to new owners for $5,000 in time for the 1919-20 NHL season.

The Arena Gardens, later changed to the Mutual Street Arena

The new owners were Charile Querrie, the General Manager of the Toronto Arenas, and the owners of an amateur hockey club called the St. Patricks. The new ownership group then changed the NHL club's name to the Toronto St. Patricks and their sweaters from blue to now green.

Rebounding from a chaotic 5-13 season resulting from the sale or defection of their best players due to the financial problems of the previous ownership, the St. Patricks were essentially starting over from scratch for the 1919-20 season.

1919-20 Toronto St Patricks team
1919-20 Toronto St Patricks

While they did not qualify for the playoffs, the St. Patricks did improve their season record to 12-12 and were led in points by Corb Denneny, a holdover from the Toronto Arenas, who had 24 goals and 36 points in 24 games, good for fourth in the league.

Future Hall of Famer Babe Dye led the club with 33 goals and 38 points in 23 games in 1920-21, and the team would finish first in the second half standings, but lost in the NHL finals to the Ottawa Senators.

Toronto St Pats Babe Dye 1920-21
Babe Dye during the 1920-21 season

1921-22 again saw the St. Patricks led by Dye's 31 goals and 38 points in 24 games, as Toronto would defeat the Senators 5-4 in a two-game, total goals series to capture the O'Brien Trophy and earn the right to play for the Stanley Cup against the Vancouver Millionaires, champions of the Pacific Coast Hockey League.

The series was a best-of-five and all games were played in Toronto. The Millionaires won Game 1 and Dye scored in overtime to even the series at 1 game apiece. Vancouver shut out Toronto 3-0 in Game 3, only to have the St. Patricks return the favor 6-0 in Game 4. Dye took control of the deciding Game 5, scoring four goals to lead the St. Patricks to a 5-1 victory and the Stanley Cup.

1921-22 St Patricks
1921-22 Stanley Cup Champion Toronto St. Patricks

The next two seasons Toronto would finish in third place, and miss out on the playoffs both times.

Babe Dye St Pats 1923-24
Dye in 1922-23 wearing the Stanley Cup champions patch on his sweater

Dye again led the team in scoring both seasons, with 37 points in 1922-23 and just 19 in 1923-24, but still enough to lead the club.

1923-24 Toronto St Patricks team
The 1923-24 Toronto St Patricks

Dye rebounded with 38 goals and 46 points in 1924-25 to lead the team for the fifth season in a row and Toronto again returned to the playoffs, only to lose out to the Montreal Canadiens 5 goals to 2.

Another Hall of Famer, Jack Adams, would finally unseat Dye as the club's leading scorer, as he managed 21 goals and 26 points to Dye's 23 points in 1925-26, but Toronto would fail to reach the playoffs.

Jack Adams St Pats
Jack Adams led the St. Pats in scoring in 1925-26

St. Pats Owner Querrie then lost a lawsuit to the notorious Eddie Livingstone, the one time owner of the previous Toronto franchise known as the Toronto Blueshirts of the NHA, and, as a result, decided to put the team up for sale. The club was purchased by Conn Smythe for $160,000 and, when he took control of the team on February 14, 1927, immediately changed the club's name to the Toronto Maple Leafs, bringing an end to the St. Pats name during the 1926-27 season.

On March 2, 2002, the Toronto Maple Leafs wore the green jerseys of the 1926-27 St. Patricks, along with brown pants and helmets, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the franchise changing their name to the Maple Leafs in a 3-3 tie against the Buffalo Sabres, led by captain Mats Sundin's two goals.

Sundin St Pats
Mat Sundin in the green of the 1926-27 St. Patricks in 2002

Today's featured jersey is a 2016-17 Toronto Maple Leafs St. Patricks Throwback Auston Matthews jersey that will be worn tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks as a part of the Maple Leafs centennial celebration.

The original 1919-20 St. Pats jerseys were alternating green a white hoops on the body, while the sleeves were green with a single white band and white cuffs. For 1920-21, the sweaters were solid green with white cuffs, collar and waist stripe. They reverted to their original horizontally striped sweaters for 1921-22.

For 1922-23, the location of the sweater's colors were reversed, with the result being a predominately white look now that the arms were white with a green band and cuffs. This style was worn for three seasons through 1924-25 and this is the style which will be worn this evening.

It was back to an all-green look for 1925-26, including the collar and cuffs, with the only white being three narrow stripes along the waist.

Finally, for the team's final season as the St. Patricks, they added a white chest band trimmed with narrow white stripes and reduced the three narrow waist stripes to two. With the sale of the club to Smythe, this jersey would not finish out the season, as it was immediately replaced by a solid white sweater with a green maple leaf crest, with the team colors permanently changing to blue and white for the 1927-28 season.

It would be the St. Patricks final green jersey with the white chest band of 1926-27 which would become the basis for Toronto's throwback jersey worn in March of 2002 on the 75th Anniversary of Smythe's ownership and resulting name change to the Maple Leafs.

One unique feature of today's throwback jersey is the use of separate white boxes for each digit on the back of the jersey done in the style teams used to employ in the days of multi-striped barberpole jerseys.

Toronto Maple Leafs St Pats 2016-17 F jersey
Toronto Maple Leafs St Pats 2016-17 B jersey

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