Darryl Sittler

Darryl Sittler is the classic example of the Canadian hero. A poor kid in small town Ontario who became one of the greatest hockey players of all time through hard work and perseverance.

Sittler, perhaps the most popular Leaf in modern times, was drafted by Toronto 8th overall in the 1970 Entry Draft. For Sittler it was the culmination of a great junior career with the London Knights. And while he was slow out of the blocks in his firs two seasons with the Leafs, he exploded with a 29 goal, 77 point 1972-73 campaign and never looked back.

By the beginning of the 1975-76 season, the hard working center was given the great honor of being named captain, replacing the incomparable Dave Keon who jumped to the World Hockey Association. The honor was one that Sittler greatly cherished, and he responded to the challenge. He took his game to the next level, notching 41 goals and 59 assists to become the first Maple Leafs player in history to crack the 100 point mark in one season!

No one game better symbolizes his great 19 75-76 season than the night of February 7, 1976. That was the night that he scored 6 goals and set up 4 others to set the unthinkable record of 10 points in a single game. None of the games greats - including Gretzky, Lemieux, Orr, Howe - came close to touching this record!

Early that night, there was no indication that anything special was in the air. The visiting Bruins were the story coming in, on a hot streak and with Gerry Cheevers just reclaimed from the World Hockey Association and being saved for a big Boston homecoming. Coach Don Cherry gave the start to farmhand Dave Reece, who'd been told the day before he was going back to the minors that night.

"It was just a night where every pass and every shot somehow found their way to the right place," Sittler said. His totals mounted; two assists in the first period, a hat trick and two helpers in the second and another three goals in the third. The last goal was a pass in front that banked in off of Brad Park, with Sittler smiling and shrugging as the
Gardens went wild.

Once described as a "goaltender's nightmare," Sittler found even more magic in the playoffs, particularly on the night of April 22, 1976. That night Darryl Sittler tied Newsy Lalonde and Maurice Richard's playoff record with 5 goals in a single playoff contest. Reggie Leach and Mario Lemieux would later equal the mark, but no one bettered it.

The Leafs eventually bowed out of the playoffs, but it was a short summer for the Kitchener-born Sittler. He was one of 16 future Hall of Famers selected to represent Team Canada in the inaugural Canada Cup. The team steamrolled its way to victory, with Sittler scoring the now-famous overtime winning goal against the Czechs to cap off an incredible year for Sittler.

Good things continued to happen for Sittler. In 1976-77 he registered 38 goals and 90 points but the real story happened in the playoffs where he was hotter than an angry Harold Ballard. 5 goals and 16 assists for 21 points in just 9 contests was unreal for Sittler, but not enough to get the Leafs past the second round of the playoffs.

Sittler's best individual season came in 1977-78 when he set team a team record with 117 points (later to be broken by Doug Gilmour). He was named to the NHL Second All Star Team. There was no doubting that Sittler was one of the game's finest players.

The return of Punch Imlach to Toronto as general manager in 1979 was the beginning of some tough times for Darryl and the rest of the Maple Leafs. There was much upheaval in the dressing room, resulting in Lanny McDonald being exiled to the Colorado Rockies. Disgusted by the treatment of his sidekick, Sittler resigned his captaincy in protest, further ruining relations with boss Imlach.

During the late 1970s Sittler and Co. had the league excited as the Leafs were a young and exciting team. However that team for whatever reasons was being dismantle. And although he would take back the captaincy in 1980-81, Sittler too was on the trading block. On January 20, 1982 Sittler, was traded to Philadelphia for Rich Costello and a high draft pick (used to select Peter Ihnacak). Sittler left as the Leafs all time leading point scorer, with 389 goals and 527 assists.

In his first full season in Philly (1982-83) Sittler showed he still had what it took to be an elite player, scoring 43 goals and 83 points. It would be his last great season.

After another year in Philadelphia, Sittler was traded to Detroit for Murray Craven and Joe Paterson. He spent one season in Motown before retiring with 484 goals, 637 assists and 1121 points. He would be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1989.

After the passing of the cantankerous Harold Ballard, Sittler was able to patch up his once deep differences with the Maple Leafs organization, and returned to the organization thanks to Cliff Fletcher. Darryl takes great pride in his community and alumni relations work.

Even though he never was able to achieve the ultimate goal - bringing the Stanley Cup back to Toronto - Sittler will forever go down as one of the greatest Maple Leafs and hockey players of all time.


Anonymous,  4:59 PM  

As a Leaf Fan forever, Darryl, Lanny, Borje, Ian, Tiger, Palmateer & others made winter saturdays in the 70's exciting for me & all Leaf fans. Thanks guys!

scott 2:07 PM  

Nice blog. I am trying to arrange for my dad which is fighting cancer and would like him to have a chance to meet Darryl Sittler. My dad is a looong time fan and I would love to make my idea into reality.

Any ideas or suggestions on how I can make such arrangements. Time is sensitive as we are not sure how much longer my dad will remain with us.

I tried to Alumi for the LEafs and my request was denied.

Any help would be appreciated on this matter me at

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