TORONTO- In the National Hockey League, the number two typically has belonged on the back of a D Man. And in the case of the Toronto Maple Leafs, all 33 men to ever wear it indeed played the blue line.
The only two players to take a turn up front on forward were Walter “Babe” Pratt and Wade Belak.
While Belak served the role as enforcer for seven seasons, sometimes he would be injected into the line up as a forward to balance team toughness. Besides, if you were to ask him, he would request to be remembered by number three anyway; not two.
Pratt played from 1942 to 1946 and in his time with the Leafs won the Hart Trophy in 1944, the Stanley Cup in 1945 and was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966. He scored 160 points in just 181 games and may have had more but off ice issues led to him being traded to the Boston Bruins for one final year before retiring.
For 12 seasons, between 1945 and 1957, Jim Thomson played the tough guy role on the Leafs blue line wearing 20 and then two. Between 1947 and 1951 his name was put on four Stanley Cups as a member of Toronto’s greatest teams. Thomson was never known for his offense, rather being a typical stay at home defensemen. In 717 games with Toronto, he had only 14 goals including six seasons with no goals at all; but he did rack up 845 penalty minutes. His final season as a Leaf, he was given the captaincy but eventually was traded by Conn Smythe to the Chicago Blackhawks for his involvement with Ted Lindsay in attempting to form a player’s union. Thomson was successful in getting his fellow teammates to vote yes on a union, something Smythe and the other owners never wanted.
The most offensive player to ever wear the number was Ian Turnbull. Drafted by the Leafs 15th overall in 1973, the Quebec native played nine seasons from the 1970’s into the early 1980’s. He was paired for a large part of that time with Leafs great Borje Salming and together they showed offensive brilliance.
In his greatest season, Turnbull had 22 goals and 79 points; a single season record for Leafs defenseman that still exists. On February 2nd, 1977 he scored five goals against the Detroit Red Wings; another record to this day. And his 414 points put him fourth in all-time Leafs defensive scoring.
In the early days, C.R. “Red” Horner wore both 11 and 15, however if he was to be honoured by Toronto, perhaps he would go up with a number two banner. Horner suited up for the Leafs from 1928 to 1940 and served as captain for those final two seasons.
His only Stanley Cup came in 1932 and he was never an offensive threat. Instead, he was an enforcer and led the NHL in penalty minutes in eight of his 12 seasons. When he retired, he was the all time career leader in penalty minutes and was selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1965.
In present time, the number two is stitched onto Luke Schenn’s jersey and it’s been that way for three seasons.
Drafted in 2008 with the Leafs first selection, Schenn came straight out of junior, joining the roster as a 19 year old. His stay in Toronto has been short in time when you compare him to other Leafs who wore the same jersey for an entire career but he has become a fan favourite with hitting and a pure defensive approach to the game. He also has used his time here to impact the Canadian Army by starting up Luke’s Troops.
Coincidentally the Leafs used their first pick in 1987 on another defender by the name of Luke who wore number two. That was Luke Richardson.
Other Leafs who wore the number two worth noting are Carl Brewer, who won three Stanley Cups in the early 1960’s, Dallas Eakins, who played only six weeks in a Leafs uniform during the 1999 season but is now the Head Coach of the Toronto Marlies, Rob Zettler, who played three seasons in the 1990’s and is now Ron Wilson’s assistant coach with today’s Leafs and Hall of Famer Brian Leetch, who slid into the line up in 2004 for 15 quick games leading into a play-off run.
It’s fair to say that the number two doesn’t have as much significance in Leaf nation as other sweaters but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t seen its share of quality players over the last 80 years. Schenn has a strong future ahead of him if he resigns and continues his development but Horner may be the closest the number that comes to being honoured by the organization.
Complete List of all 33 Leafs to wear the Number Two
Wade Belak 2001-2008
Carl Brewer 1957-1965 & 1979-1980
Garth Butcher 1994-1995
Bobby Copp 1942-1943 & 1950-1951
Bert Corbeau 1926-1927
Gerald Diduck 1999-2000
Jerome Dupont 1986-1987
Dallas Eakins 1998-1999
Ted Fauss 1986-1988
Bob Goldham 1941-1942 & 1945-1947
Larry Hillman 1960-1968
Red Horner 1928-1940
Greg Hotham 1979-1982
Trevor Johansen 1977-1979 & 1981-1982
Brian Leetch 2003-2004
Sylvain Lefebvre 1992-1994
Rick Ley 1968-1972
Joe Lundrigan 1972-1973
Darwin McCutcheon 1981-1982
Ric Nattress 1991-1992
Gary Nylund 1982-1986
Pierre Pilote 1968-1969
Babe Pratt 1942-1946
Beattie Ramsay 1927-1928
Marc Reaume 1954-1960
Luke Richardson 1987-1991 & 2005-2006
Luke Schenn 2008-Present
Art Smith 1927-1930
Wally Stanowski 1939-1942 & 1944-1948
Jim Thomson 1945-1957
Ian Tunbull 1973-1982
Rob Zettler 1995-1998
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