Darryl Sittler – Toronto Maple Leafs Legend

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report this adDarryl Sittler, the preferred participant in Toronto Maple Leafs historical past, captured the creativeness of hockey followers in every single place. In his 15-year NHL profession, he scored 484 objectives, 637 assists, and 1,121 factors within the common season. And though he scored one other 29 objectives within the playoffs, his most well-known tally got here in additional time towards Czechoslovakia to win the Canada Cup in 1976.
Sittler is tied to 2 of one of the best remembered and most outstanding performances in NHL historical past, etched into report books and recollections alike, making him a part of Canadian hockey lore. The primary was a 10-point sport on February 7, 1976, towards Don Cherry and his highly effective Boston Bruins. The second was a five-goal playoff sport towards Philadelphia’s Bernie Mum or dad and the Broad Avenue Bullies.

Darryl Sittler Rising Up
Sittler was a quintessential Canadian who spent his youth enjoying on frozen ponds and out of doors rinks. Born on Sept. 18, 1950, within the rural city of St. Jacobs, Ontario, simply northwest of Kitchener, he was one in every of eight kids. Although it’s inside a 90-minute drive of Toronto, he by no means as soon as went to Maple Leaf Gardens as a fan.
“The primary time I went in there, I performed there,” says the Hockey Corridor of Famer. “I bear in mind it nicely. It simply appeared so massive.”
MONTREAL – 1970’s: Darryl Sittler #27 of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photograph by Denis Brodeur/NHLI by way of Getty Pictures)
Surprisingly, Sittler wasn’t a Leaf fan, both. “I grew up as the one Montreal Canadiens fan in a household of Toronto Maple Leafs followers,” Sittler admitted in his autobiography, Sittler.
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On the age of 15, his play was already elevating eyebrows. In junior, he was a star participant for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey Affiliation. After a powerful 63 level season his first yr, he took the league by storm with seasons of 90 and 99 factors in 53 and 54 video games, respectively.
When Sittler was chosen with the Leafs’ first choose (eighth general) within the 1970 Entry Draft, he had no thought. “I’d been a Maple Leaf about 5 or 6 hours earlier than I came upon. I heard the information on the radio on the way in which residence from my summer time job that night,” he recalled.
Early Years – Sittler #27
When Sittler was given his sweater with No. 27, he knew the Leafs’ entrance workplace had excessive expectations of him. Frank Mahovlich had beforehand worn the quantity with nice success. “It gave me a extremely good feeling once I was handed his quantity,” stated Sittler.
Sittler noticed restricted motion in his rookie yr (1970-71) attributable to a damaged bone in his wrist that sidelined him for almost three months. In his sophomore season, his wrist was nonetheless bothering him. He performed by the ache with a brace and put up 32 factors.
Alternative knocked for Sittler in his third season when middle Jimmy Harrison left for the WHA and Norm Ullman turned sidelined with an damage. Enjoying between Rick Kehoe and Denis Dupere, Sittler discovered his stride, tallying 77 factors. That complete served as a watermark, one which he topped in 9 of his twelve subsequent seasons.
Darryl Sittler (Photograph by Steve Babineau/NHLI by way of Getty Pictures)
He adopted that up with a 38-goal, 46-assist season in 1973-74. Based on Sittler, having success that yr was actually necessary. “I had signed solely a one-year contract and if I anticipated a fats contract from the Leafs, I needed to illustrate to the administration that I deserved one.” Quickly thereafter, he inked a five-year deal.
With the franchise in transition and lots of veterans retiring or being traded, Sittler introduced stability. New gamers Inge Hammarstrom, Lanny McDonald, Borje Salming and Ian Turnbull joined the crew. Crimson Kelly took over as head coach. When Dave Keon was traded after the 1974-75 season, Sittler turned the second-youngest captain in crew historical past at simply 24 years outdated. “We needed a captain who wasn’t afraid to talk up for his teammates, and who’s revered by each gamers and administration,” said the crew’s basic supervisor, Jim Gregory. “Sittler was the person.”
1975-76: A Phenomenal Yr
Sittler entered into elite standing in 1975-76 when he re-wrote the report e-book.
10 Level Recreation
In a sport towards the Boston Bruins on Feb. 7, 1976, at Maple Leaf Gardens, Sittler etched his title within the NHL report books in a means that can doubtless by no means be duplicated. He erupted for a magical and mind-boggling 10 level sport. It set an NHL report that also stands right now for many factors in a sport: 10. Even Wayne Gretzky, the highest-scoring participant in NHL historical past, by no means achieved that stage of brilliance in a single sport.
“Each time he stepped on the ice, you knew one thing was going to occur,” stated linemate Lanny McDonald.
The Leafs trounced the Bruins 11-Four. Sittler had two assists within the first interval, three objectives and two assists within the second and one other hat trick within the third. The earlier report for factors in a single sport was held by Maurice “Rocket” Richard with eight.

The Leafs’ statistician gave Sittler the heads-up concerning the single-game report through the second intermission. His tenth level of the night time (his sixth objective) was truly a go that bounced off Bruins’ defenseman Brad Park into the online. After the sport, Sittler couldn’t start to clarify his efficiency for the ages. This night time, like all through his profession, Sittler all the time attributed his success to work moderately than uncooked expertise.
The record-setting efficiency vaulted Sittler to the 100-point plateau (41G, 59A), changing into the primary Maple Leaf to take action in a single season.
Sittler with goalie Dave Reece on the fortieth anniversary of his record-setting 10-point sport throughout a ceremony at Air Canada Centre. Reece, was in objective for the Bruins that night time and confronted all 40 photographs, by no means performed one other NHL sport. (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports activities)
“I’m proud to carry the report,” stated Sittler. When requested if it would ever be damaged, he added, “In some unspecified time in the future, one thing may occur for some participant the place it might all come collectively. You by no means say by no means, however it’s a longshot. There are only a few instances when 10 objectives are scored by one crew, not to mention for one participant to be in on all 10.” 
A 5 Objective Playoff Recreation
Sittler’s sensational scoring continued into the playoffs that yr. On April 22, when enjoying towards the Philadelphia Flyers within the Convention Semifinal, Sittler erupted for 5 objectives in an Eight-5 win. It tied a playoff report, including his title to Maurice Richard’s report achievement. (Reggie Leach and Mario Lemieux have since duplicated the feat as nicely.) Crimson Kelly, the Leafs’ head coach from 1973-77 was a superstitious man who invoked ‘Pyramid Energy’ to assist encourage his crew. Legend has it Kelly’s sons gave him an thought to make use of the supernatural powers of Egyptian pyramids to provide them some mojo. They memento store miniatures had been positioned beneath the Leaf bench and within the dressing room.
“I put my sticks beneath it hoping it’d assist,” Sittler added. It appeared to assist. Nevertheless, he was additionally sporting his fortunate tie. “I’ve a tie I put on when it’s an important sport,” admitted Sittler. “I wore it one night time once I acquired three objectives. I had it on the time I had the ten factors towards Boston. I felt this sport was so essential, I went to the cleaners to select up the tie specifically.”
No matter the place the luck got here from, Sittler had one other outstanding sport. “I don’t actually know the best way to describe how I really feel. I assume I really feel fortunate,” stated the ahead.
Canada Cup Winner
One other defining sport for Sittler – one which he later referred to as his profession spotlight – got here on Sept. 15, 1976, through the Canada Cup last on the beloved Montreal Discussion board. That night time, he scored the tournament-winning objective in additional time on a partial breakaway, to win 5-Four.
In his autobiography, he advised the story behind the objective. Don Cherry, an assistant coach of the crew, addressed the crew within the locker room earlier than the additional time began. “I’ve been upstairs watching this man, Dzurilla, for 3 video games. He likes to come back out actual quick to chop down the angle on any rush. After you go in over the blueline, pretend a slapper. If you happen to see him come out of his internet, draw it again in and go huge and deeper. He’ll go away you with many of the internet empty.”
In additional time, Sittler adopted Cherry’s recommendation to the letter. He entered the zone on the left wing, faked a shot, drawing Czech goalie Vladimir Dzurilla out of place, then fired the puck simply into an open internet.

“After I scored the objective, the entire crew surrounded me out on the ice and we went into a bunch hug with Lanny (McDonald) main the world in oxygen-threatening squeezes and hollering.”
Sittler immediately turned an in a single day hero in Canada. The objective cemented his place amongst Canadian hockey heroes as Staff Canada gained the best-of-three finals, two video games to none. “It was an expertise I’ll always remember. Simply being on the crew was implausible,” stated Sittler with real pleasure in his voice. “That was the one championship crew I used to be on,” he stated later. “Once you symbolize your nation, there’s one thing fairly thrilling and obsessed with that.”
The Center Years
Sittler constructed on his breakout yr by placing up 117 factors (45G, 72A) in 1977-78 and main the crew into the Convention Last towards the Montreal Canadiens.
In 1979-80, the Leafs started to unravel. Crotchety proprietor Harold Ballard cleaned home and introduced in Punch Imlach once more. The duo desperately grappled for energy and respect, belittling gamers within the course of. In a single over-reaching instance of them asserting themselves, they prohibited gamers to make a good-natured promotional look.
Harold Ballard didn’t give gamers or followers many causes to smile.
Sittler’s agent, Alan Eagleson, and the Leafs’ new entrance workplace had been like oil and water. Sittler himself was additionally a goal attributable to his commanding presence within the locker room. Imlach quickly traded and shipped away a number of of Sittler’s associates. Sittler’s no-trade clause shielded him, however lots of his associates turned casualties of the ability battle.
Pat Boutette, Sittler’s former teammate with the London Nationals, was jettisoned to the Hartford Whalers. Dave Hutchison as traded. Tiger Williams was booted to the Vancouver Canucks. When shut pal Lanny McDonald was despatched to the Colorado Rockies, it hit Sittler so exhausting he lashed out through the use of a pair of scissors to chop the ‘C’ from his sweater.
“The shock was so palpable, a few of the guys fell again or slumped of their seats as in the event that they’d been struck bodily,” Sittler recalled in his autobiography. He then gave an emotional speech to his teammates, explaining what he was doing and the explanations behind his choices.
“Imlach was attempting to interrupt down this complete crew, didn’t need me as captain and wouldn’t let me perform as one.” Sittler continued, “I had my thoughts made up that I needed to remain in Toronto. I used to be going to outlast this man (Imlach). I didn’t deserve any of this, I couldn’t perceive why it was taking place to me, however I may overcome it.”
Maple Leaf Gardens, the place Sittler plied his commerce.
Lastly, sufficient was sufficient and Darryl waived his no-trade clause. In a letter, he advised administration that changing into captain of the Leafs was the happiest day of his life however the present standoff was insupportable and he may not in good religion occupy the position. He resigned as captain and nobody was named to exchange him. Ballard was incensed and threatened to lock Sittler out earlier than the next season. Finally, they got here to a truce of kinds and Sittler returned as captain. Nevertheless it didn’t final. Midway by the 1981-82 season, Sittler determined he’d had sufficient with management and demanded a commerce.
On Jan. 20, 1982, he was despatched packing to the Philadelphia Flyers by Gerry McNamara who had changed Imlach because the Leafs’ GM. The Leafs’ return was Wealthy Costello, a second-round choose within the 1982 draft (#25 Peter Ihnacak) and future issues (Ken Robust).
Life as a Flyer
Sittler put up 83 factors in his first season with the Philadelphia Flyers. The romance didn’t final although as he solely performed two seasons in Philadelphia earlier than being abruptly traded to the Detroit Crimson Wings for forwards Murray Craven and Joe Paterson simply earlier than the 1984-85 season began. He struggled with the Wings for a yr and determined to hold up his skates.
A couple of years later, he returned to the place all of it started, changing into a advisor to then-general supervisor Cliff Fletcher.
Darryl Sittler Enters the Hockey Corridor of Fame
Sittler was inducted into the Hockey Corridor of Fame In 1989. His Inductee Class included Herbie Lewis, Vladislav Tretiak, and Alan Eagleson.
The Maple Leafs raised a banner to the rafters together with his title and No. 27 and honored him with a touching tribute on the Air Canada Centre on Feb. Eight, 2003, previous to a sport towards the Montreal Canadiens. “It’s the very best honor you may obtain from a corporation you performed for. To have my title on that banner hanging from the rafters could be very particular,” supplied an emotional Sittler.

The banner elevating was initially scheduled for Oct. three, 2001, however Sittler’s spouse Wendy was affected by colon most cancers and was too unwell to attend. Darryl pleaded to postpone the event and his spouse handed just a few days later. Her title was included within the backside nook of the Sittler’s banner.
His Life At the moment
Sittler remains to be within the hockey world, working in public relations for Maple Leaf Sports activities and Leisure. He’s additionally an lively member of the Board of Administrators of a number of firms and helps many charities together with Particular Olympics Canada, Display screen Colons Canada, and Colon Most cancers Canada in honor of his late spouse Wendy.
Sittler’s Legacy
Trying again at his Corridor of Fame profession, Darryl Sittler feels lucky to make a dwelling whereas enjoying a sport he cherished a lot. He didn’t have one of the best shot, he wasn’t the quickest skater and he didn’t have break-your-ankle dekes. His strengths had been his character and management. These traits carried the wealthy historical past of an Authentic Six franchise by a few of its darkest days with the villainous entrance workplace of Ballard and Imlach.
Although he by no means gained a Stanley Cup, Sittler was part of some superb groups and memorable moments in Canadian historical past. His workmanlike, humble, grind-it-out and get-it-done model gained over followers who appreciated his effort on each shift of each sport.

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