The Maple Leafs unveiled their new logo Tuesday night, and the change – which will come into effect for the franchise’s centennial season in 2016-17 – was embraced by Toronto’s fans with the passion that’s come to define Leafs Nation. It’s in part a tribute to the organization’s storied history, and also a fresh look for the bright days ahead – and team president Brendan Shanahan says it’s another step forward for the team.
“Everything we do, big or small, whether it’s concrete or just gesture, it’s really about what we all have in mind about where we want to be – and that’s (that) we want to be a championship organization,” Shanahan said Wednesday during a press conference at the Leafs’ practice facility. “The history we want to emulate is one that we identify with that logo more than the current one. It seemed more and more like the people in Toronto and the people within our organization wanted to go back to what (team legend) Conn Smythe had in mind when he first said, ‘We’re going to be the Maple Leafs.’ ”
The new logo – which was revealed during the behind-the-scenes TV program “The Leaf: Blueprint” – includes a number of nods to Toronto’s impressive past: it features a leaf with 31 points, which is a reference to 1931, the first year the team played at historic Maple Leaf Gardens; the body of the leaf has 17 veins (a reference to the year 1917, the franchise’s first year of existence); and the 13 veins above the Leafs crest represent the 13 Stanley Cup championships the franchise has earned in its first 100 years.
All in all, it’s a testament to what’s taken place within the organization prior to today, and Shanahan says it’s been received with open arms by virtually everyone, including fans and current and former players.
“We talked to our players, we talked to our alumni, we talked to some of our own historians who know the details of how we came to be,” Shanahan said. “I’m very pleased with what we’ve come up with.”
“I got a lot of emails (Tuesday) night and today from friends, alumni, from people that work with us – and then, just looking from what I see out there (on social media platforms), I think people appreciate why we did what we did and what we came up with.”
Although it’s been a challenging season for the Leafs, Shanahan is confident the organization is moving in the right direction under GM Lou Lamoriello and head coach Mike Babcock, and he believes the new logo will help inspire players to understand what an honour it is to play for an Original Six franchise that has a level of support few, if any other NHL teams enjoy. Progress on the ice is on the horizon, but the new logo represents the highest standards of expectation for the team in the years to come.
“I thought it was important for us to get back to the story of why we became the Maple Leafs,” Shanahan said of the change. “There are some subtle changes to the logo, but for those who thought we were going to look for some radical changes, we weren’t. We’ve got too much respect for our history, for the people who built this organization: guys like (Leafs legends) Teeder Kennedy, Syl Apps and George Armstrong.
“We thought that era, our first real dynasty, was sort of the inspiration for what we want to do with the logo going forward.”