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The Maple Leafs Heritage Classic Jersey and the History of the Toronto Arenas – TheLeafsNation

The Toronto Maple Leafs unveiled their heritage classic jerseys last night during the first intermission of their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

It is very similar to the uniform the Maple Leafs wore in the Next Century game against the Carolina Hurricanes in December 2017. The only noticeable differences I can see are the color, the lack of arm stripes and ARENAS being the same color as the Jersey. Here is a photo of a Mitch Marner AreTnas jersey from 2017 that I own.

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The swirling decorative stitching on the numbers is also the same.

Before giving my opinion on the jersey itself, here is a bit of history surrounding the Toronto Arenas. Don’t crucify me if I don’t know my story. I’m studying journalism, not history.

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The Toronto Hockey Club was founded in 1917. They were first called the Toronto Blueshirts and belonged to the National Hockey Association, which had teams in Ontario and Quebec. In February 1917, one of the teams, the 228th Battalion, went overseas to fight in the First World War. NHA owners took this opportunity to vote to reduce the size of the league. They cited player shortages due to conscription in Canada and wanted to split Blueshirts players to replenish their rosters. Although this was a problem, it was mainly a game to get rid of Blueshirts owner Eddie Livingstone, who didn’t get along with the other owners. Livingstone sued the NHA. The other owners found it easier to suspend the NHL and create a new one called the National Hockey League. The NHL was only meant to be a one-year stopgap until the NHA settled its legal affairs. Toronto’s team and players returned under new ownership to the NHL. With the Arena company owning the arena, Blueshirt players had no choice but to play for Toronto’s new temporary franchise, even though they had contracts with Livingstone. The intention was to settle with Livingstone, but they never did. The franchise and the players were effectively leased. Their first playing season began in December 1917, about a month after the Battle of Passchendaele ended. That year, Toronto was led by Hall of Famer Reg Noble and supported by fellow Hall of Famer Happ Holmes. A young Jack Adams would also play eight games for the team that season. Toronto went on to defeat the Vancouver Millionaires to win the first-ever Stanley Cup. At this point, the Toronto Hockey Club had no identity other than its former name. After that season, The Arena Company made their franchise temporary in the NHL and formed a new one called Arenas which was free from legal action. Technically, the 1918 Stanley Cup does not belong to the current franchise which would later become the St Pats and then the Maple Leafs. The Arenas had a dreadful 1918/1919 season and attendance plummeted. On top of that, several key players left due to financial issues and legal disputes as they were still under contract with the Blueshirts. The team was sold in December 1919 and became the Toronto St Pats.

The Arenas played in the Mutual Street Arena, located south of Dundas Street East and a few blocks from St. Michael’s Cathedral. It was also called Arena Gardens or The Arena. Singular! The construction of the arena was estimated at around 500,000 Canadian dollars. According to the Bank of Canada website (which only dates back to 1914), $500,000 adjusted for inflation would equal just over $12 million in today’s currency. In 1912 it was the largest indoor arena in Canada, seating approximately 7,500 people when used for hockey. The facility was only the third in Canada to have a mechanically maintained ice surface. It was the home of several Toronto teams from its opening in 1912 until 1931. The list includes the Tecumsehs, Blueshirts, Ontarios, Shamrocks, Aura Lee, 228th Battalion, Arenas, St. Pats, Maple Leafs, Marlboros and Falcons in this order. . Between 1931 and the early 1960s, the venue was used to host various other events. In 1962 it was converted into a curling and roller skating rink called The Terrace. The building was demolished in 1989 and is now the site of a municipal park and residential complex. The building was best known for being the location of the very first radio broadcast of an ice hockey game in 1923. Foster Hewitt got the call.

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Source: City of Toronto Archives (Mutual Street Arena and the construction of Union Station in 1917)

Funny how Union Station still looked like this recently.

I don’t hate him, but I don’t love him. When we first visited this thread about a month ago, I got some insight from a reliable source. My source said the jersey was a reworking of a design already done in the early 1900s. They were okay, but not specific. The Heritage Classic’s proximity to St. Patrick’s Day has led many to believe that this will be a new St Pats-themed jersey. But the same source also told me that the Maple Leafs will wear their white St Pats jersey again this season. It wouldn’t have made sense to stick a Heritage Classic patch on these or to have two St Pats jerseys. The return of these jerseys is supported by the fact that the Carolina Hurricanes are due to wear their red jerseys at home on the road in Toronto on March 17.

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I predicted the jersey would be a new version of the jerseys the Leafs wore in 1931, 1996/1997 and again in 2014 for the Winter Classic. In my previous article, I mentioned that although the game is in Hamilton, it is also a Sabers home game. This made me think we were getting a reverse version of the classic Winter 2014 jersey. Good guess, but not close. I didn’t think they would return to the Arenas design after only five years.

Courtesy of NHL Uniforms and @SammyT_51 on Twitter

Navy blue does not ring true to old blue shirts. It’s a different take. You can love it or hate it, but there’s not much you can do with the same shade of blue and white and the traditional Leaf logo. I see what they are trying to do by combining the 1917/1918 and 1918/1919 styles. If I’m being honest, I think the ARENAS in navy blue are washed out and look clunky. NHLunifroms listed weak ARENAS as a possible nod to Harold Ballard’s petition to have blue letters on blue nameplates (because it’s the logo on the front not the name on the back) , but I’d say it’s probably a litter. Why nod at him? He soured relations with and drove out several legendary and beloved players. One thing that makes regular Leafs jerseys great is the logo. The Leafs asked the NHL in 2016 to expand it to stand out more. If you want simplicity, I would have dropped the ARENAS wordmark and enlarged the T slightly.

According to NHLunifroms, they will also be wearing navy blue helmets, socks and pants.

The Maple Leafs have changed official customizers in 2021 from Sports Lettering Company to Catstitch. To my knowledge, Catstitch does some customization work for some CHL teams but it’s a small operation. The problem is that they don’t accept orders from the public. This is a situation where you need to know a guy who knows a guy. I know people in the jersey collecting world because I’m one of them, but I don’t know them. Since the jersey is navy blue and not royal blue, if you are planning to purchase a blank team issued jersey, you may not be able to find the color matched nameplate material to personalize it with your favorite player. If you’re thinking of buying a player’s jersey with a long name and removing the name, numbers and reusing the nameplate, Catstitch uses a lot more adhesive. These will probably be a pretty penny at Fanatics or Real Sports auctions and you wouldn’t waste something that expensive. I haven’t tried stripping their nameplates myself, but I’ve heard from people better than me that it’s nearly impossible to reuse their plates. If you’re not a collector, we’re only going all the way because Adidas refuses to sell Canadian-made jerseys like Rebook did. I hope I am wrong because I would like to add one to my collection and I would rather not ruin myself by buying the jersey worn by a notable player.

If you would like to see my swimwear collection, you can do so by clicking here. If you have any questions, feel free to message me on Instagram. I’m always happy to help if you’re looking to buy something on eBay, Facebook, Kijiji and have questions about price, legitimacy or quality of customization. I can also recommend the best places to drop off your blank jerseys if you care about them being well made and wanting them to last.

If you enjoyed reading and want to learn more about my Leafs content, I have a YouTube channel where I discuss everything Leafs using advanced stats, background information, salary cap breakdowns and more. Meet me at Downtown Sports

The story comes from the Toronto Public Library’s online database