In reverence of 75 years of Toronto Maple Leafs tradition, the March 2 game against Buffalo was a celebration of past and present hockey greatness.
Taking to the ice in the original green jerseys and brown helmets, gloves and pants of the Toronto St. Patricks, the Leafs recognized the franchise's 75th anniversary game in historic fashion. Fans were encouraged to participate in the tribute as well as the normally blue-and-white clad crowd was given green flags and St. Pats toques to pay homage to Toronto's hockey roots.
| There was a sea of green and white at the Air Canada Centre. |
Jaime Burnham, mapleleafs.com
At home games throughout the year, in celebration of the anniversary season, the Leafs honoured the Top 25 Leafs as selected by a committee of hockey experts. As March 2, 2002 commemorated the 75th anniversary game, a special pregame tribute was held to recognize all 25 Leaf legends once again.
To the delight of the crowd and to the attention of the current squad, Leafs of yesterday and today took to centre ice to accept an honour 75 years in the making.
Some of the distinguished Leafs present among the 25 honourees were four-time Stanley Cup winners Johnny Bower and Frank Mahovlich, along with Leaf captains Ted Kennedy, Darryl Sittler, Wendel Clark, Rick Vaive and Mats Sundin.
In remembering the past and revering the contributions of some of hockey's greatest, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto fans hearten the continuation of blue and white (and green) tradition: 75 forever. WHAT THEY WERE SAYING ... Wendel Clark:
On Top 25 recognition: "I am very honoured. It is a great evening with the guys and it's a great honour for all of us."
On his loyal fans: "I've always had a great relationship between myself and the fans since I started. It's just something that's very gratifying; the fans were always here." Rick Vaive:
On Top 25 recognition: "It's a great honour. When you think about an organization 75 years long and to be recognized as one of the top 25, it is certainly just that, a heck of an honour." Johnny Bower:
On his loyal fans: "It's just so hard to explain, it is so wonderful, I feel so honoured just having fans ask me for an autograph. It makes you feel good inside to be remembered."
On fellow goaltender, Curtis Joseph and the current Leaf team: " The Leafs are going to be OK I think. I am sorry to hear about what happened to Joseph, I was away on holiday and came back and found out he was hurt. You have to give Schwab a chance. He is doing the best he can. I certainly hope he (Joseph) heals up really quickly because the team needs him." Lanny McDonald:
On Top 25 recognition: "It's a tremendous honour knowing that you have been chosen by your peers to be one of the top 25. It was a dream come true to play with the Maple Leafs in the first place so anything past that is wonderful, and this is certainly one of those occasions."
On fellow honourees: "It's wonderful being here. You get to renew some old acquaintances, tell some old stories, remind each other of how fast we thought we were and then enjoy the game as well."