The Toronto Maple Leafs have been adorned with a host of phenomenal defenders over the course of their 100-year history.
It is shocking to realize that since the introduction of the James Norris Memorial Trophy in 1954, which is awarded to the NHL’s best defender each season, not a single player has been honored with the award as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Some Leafs, however, have been close. Four players finished second in the Norris Trophy as members of the Toronto Maple Leafs and you will see them all on this top 10 list along with some Hall of Fame defenders who played in an era before the Norris Trophy existed.
There is even a defender who is one of only two players to have won the Hart Memorial Trophy as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. You will see him on the list, but the other former Leaf who went home to Hart was downtown, Ted Kennedy.
Top 10 Toronto Maple Leafs Defensemen of All-Time
Now, I’m not over 100 years old, so I have not seen all the Toronto Maple Leafs defenders play. This list was mostly made based on the honors and recognition given to the players by the NHL, qualified hockey historians, and the Toronto Maple Leafs organization itself.
I also base everything on player performance while I was with the Toronto Maple Leafs and not career performance, so even though players like Brian Leetch, Phil Housley, Larry Murphy … had good careers, they are not on this list because they did not. enough while with the Leaves.
I used voice-based analysis instead of statistics as much as possible because there is a lot more to being a defensive player than putting up points. Whenever possible, I used trophy or all-star voting positions to rank the players among their peers.
For the Toronto Maple Leafs 100th anniversary season in 2016, the organization selected a committee to include a list of the 100 best players in Toronto Maple Leafs history, which was also helpful in compiling this list. (quanthockey.com statistics).
Let’s start with some honorable mentions: