The years haven’t been kind to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Actually, make that the last half-century. The fact that they haven’t won the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup in that long a stretch, has earned the team the label of perennial loser. And yet, it goes on making money…big money, every year.
So the team is not the victim here, the fans are. Saying the Maple Leafs haven’t been kind to their fans would be more to the point. Since the product on the ice has been so consistently bad for so long, save for a brief period in the 90s when the team was considered a contender, management has turned to a brand redesign as evidence of their strategic plan for the future. Do the Leafs think that a new logo will generate excitement about the team going into its centenary year? To me, it marks a time for reflection, not celebration. But what else can they do?
To the organization’s credit, the new logo is really the old logo. The team looks to recapture the glory days, that magical stretch from the early-40s to the mid-60s. Not a bad strategy as that goes. Besides, so many awful team logos have been created, discarded and redone since the beginning of the NHL expansion in the early 70s, that we don’t need to contribute to that. “Going retro” is the new forward for the Leafs. This sad 2015-16 campaign needs to be written off, but let’s hope that they can put up the numbers to back it all up in their 100th year.
But enough about the organization. What about the logo, you ask? Well, at face value, I like it, but not because I think it is intrinsically so beautiful. I like it mostly for its intentionality. It recaptures a time when athletes played for the love of the sport, their whole career spent with one team, working to earn the respect of their fan base; a time when hockey teams were built on pride, not just money. For this reason, I think the Maple Leafs’ new logo, unlike the team whose jerseys it will adorn, is a winner.