TML Historical Moments By Year 1977-78 to 1996-97.

1977/78: Maple Leafs eccentric owner who a few years earlier served time for tax evasion begins a bizarre series of actions defying NHL rules that players names be placed on the jersey by put the names on jersey in the same color as the jersey making the names invisible. Ballard would be fined $10,000 / game, before he relented and put the names on the back. In another incident Ballard caused uproar among Feminist when he said, "Women are only good on their back." While still finishing 3rd in the Adams Division the Maple Leafs put together a strong regular season by finishing with a 41-29-10 record. In the Preliminary Playoff round the Leafs would crown the Los Angeles Kings beating 11-4 in a 2 game sweep. Moving on to the 2nd Round the Leafs found themselves in a 7-game war with the New York Islanders. After losing the first 2 in New York, the Leafs evened the series by winning the next 2 in Toronto. After swapping home ice wins the next 2 games the Leafs would win a dramatic Game 7 in overtime on the road 2-1 to advance to the semifinals. However, the Montreal Canadiens who were on their way to a 3rd straight Stanley Cup Championship were too strong as the swept the Leafs away in 4 straight.

1978/79: The Maple Leafs return to the playoffs by finishing with a 34-33-12 record, finishing in 3rd place inside the Adams Division. Near the end of the season Leafs owner Harold Ballard suddenly decided to fire Coach Roger Nielson. However Neilson would be hired back before the next game as the Leafs could not find a replacement. Ballard in rehiring his coach even asked him to wear a paper bag on his head, which he refused. In the playoffs the Leafs would extinguish the Atlanta Flames outscoring them 9-5 in a 2-game sweep. However, in the 2nd round the Leafs would be swept for the 2nd straight year by the Stanley Cup bound Montreal Canadiens. Following the season Ballard would fire Neilson again this time permanently.

1979/80: The Leafs would have a coaching carousel, going through 2 coaches before legendary Punch Imlach is coaxed out of retirement. With 16 out of 21 teams making the playoffs the Maple Leafs would make the playoffs with a 3rd place finish and a mediocre 35-40-5 record. In the best of 5 first round the Maple Leafs would be swept by the Minnesota North Stars allowing 17 goals ion 3 games.

1980/81: Owner Harold Ballard's bizarre actions continue as he compares star Center Darryl Stiller to a traitor who urinated on the Canadian flag when he rips the Captain's C off his jersey. A few weeks later Ballard would fire Coach Punch Imlach, as the Leafs struggles continued. Despite finishing in last place with a 28-37-15 record the Maple Leafs remain 1 of 16 playoff teams. However, in the Preliminary Round the Leafs are cruised by the New York Islanders losing 3 straight by a combined score of 20-4.

1981/82: With realignment the Maple Leafs are moved to the Norris Division, which contains a more geographical grouping of teams in the North Midwest. The troubles between Leafs owner and star Darryl Sittler finally come to an end when Sittler is traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in the middle of the season. However, no matter what division the Leafs played in they were not going any wear by finishing with an awful 20-44-16 record.

1982/83: Despite a terrible 28-40-12 record the Maple Leafs make the playoffs by finishing in 3rd place in the Norris Division. However the weak Leafs are quickly exposed as they are knocked off in 4 games of a best of 5 by the Minnesota North Stars.

1983/84: The Maple Leafs, who owner Harold Ballard refuses to sign European players, continue to struggle finishing in last place in the Norris Division with a terrible 26-45-8 record.

1984/85: The once proud Maple Leafs franchise hit rock bottom finishing with the worst record in the NHL by finishing with a franchise worst 20-52-8 record. Their 48 points were 14 worse then the worst playoff team, and 4 worse then the team with 2nd poorest record in the league.

1985/86: Despite another terrible 25-48-7 record the Maple Leafs finish in 4th place and thus earn a trip to the playoffs. In the first round Norris Division match up the Leafs would suddenly return to their old glory year by sweeping the first place Chicago Blackhawks in 3 straight scoring 18 goals in the series. In the Norris finals the Leafs again would look like a strong team before falling to the St. Louis Blues in 7 games.

1986/87: The Maple Leafs narrowly make the playoffs with a 32-42-6 record finishing in 4th place via tiebreaker. In the playoffs the Leafs would play their best again knocking off the St. Louis Blues in 6 games. However, for the 2nd straight year the Leafs lose a heartbreaking 7-game series in the Norris Division Finals this time falling to the Detroit Red Wings.

1987/88: Despite a terrible 21-49-10 record the Maple Leafs make the playoffs by simply finishing 1 point ahead of the Minnesota North Stars who had the worst record in the NHL. With 16 teams making the playoffs the Leafs were worse the 4 of the teams that missed the playoffs. In the playoffs the Leafs would give the Detroit Red Wings a fight but ultimately the Leafs would fall in 6 games.

1988/89: Maple Leafs ornery owner Harold Ballard continues to make news as his affairs and tribulations are a regular on the syndicated American Tabloid show "A Current Affair." The Leafs continue to be among the worst teams in the NHL, and this year they would pay for it as the missed the playoffs by finishing in last place with a 28-46-6 record.

1989/90: After a decade of losing record the Maple Leafs make the playoffs by finishing in 3rd Place with a 38-38-4 record. As the season came to a close an era in Toronto would end as controversial owner Harold Ballard passed away at the age of 86. In the playoffs the Leafs would be knocked off right away losing to the St. Louis Blues in 5 games.

1990/91: The Maple Leafs would take a major step backwards falling back into the Norris Division cellar with a terrible 23-46-11 record.

1991/92: The Maple Leafs would miss the playoff for the 2nd year in a row falling 3 points short of the postseason with a 30-43-7 record.

1992/93: For the first time in 14 years the Maple Leafs would post a winning record in the regular season finishing 3rd in the Norris Division with a solid 44-29-11 record. In the first round the Maple Leafs would survive a 7-game war against the Detroit Red Wings winning the series with an overtime goal in Game 7. In the Norris Division Finals the Leafs were taken the distance again beating the upstart St. Louis Blues in 7 games to advance to their first semifinal in 15 years. In the Campbell Conference Finals the were poised to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals leading the Kings late in the 3rd period of Game 6 in Los Angeles. However, thanks to Wayne Gretzky the Kings would rally to win in overtime. In Game 7 in Toronto Gretzky again would be the heroes scoring a hat trick in the Kings 5-4 win that end the Leafs dreams of a Stanley Cup.

1993/94: The Maple Leafs would break out of the gate going undefeated through most of October as Toronto fans were paying attention to the Blue Jays in the World Series. Once the series was over the Leafs would once again hold the spotlight, but they would come down to earth a bit. Eventually the Leafs would even lose their grip on 1st Place in the Central Division, as they finished in 2nd Place with a 43-29-12 record. In the first round the Leafs would knock off the Chicago Blackhawks in 6 games as goalie Felix Potvin backstopped 3, 1-0 wins. In the 2nd round the Maple Leafs were taken to the limit by the upstart San Jose Sharks needing an overtime win in Game 6 to force a 7th game in which they won 4-2. In the Western Conference Finals the Leafs were heavily favored for a return to the Stanley Cup Finals. However, after taking Game 1 over the Vancouver Canucks the Leafs dreams were ended by 4 straight losses that included 2 shutouts.

1994/95: In season shortened to 48 games because of a lockout the Maple Leafs make the playoffs for the 3rd straight year finishing with a 21-19-8 record. In the playoffs the Maple Leafs would get off to a good start beating the Blackhawks in the first 2 games played in Chicago. However the Leafs would lose then next 2 in Toronto, and would go on to fall in 7 games.

1995/96: Despite struggling to finish with a 34-36-12 record the Maple Leafs qualify for the playoffs for the 4th season in a row. However, in the playoffs the Leafs are knocked off in 6 games by the St. Louis Blues.

1996/97: In a forgettable season the Maple Leafs struggle all year and finish in last place with a disappointing 30-44-8 record, as once popular Coach Pat Burns is fired during a season in which the Leafs go through 3 coaches.

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