Ice hockey is an absolute leader among all sports in Canada. The Torontonians, just like all other Canadians, deeply respect their beloved sport and treat hockey stars like gold. It is not an overestimation to say that one hundred percent of people in Toronto are hockey fans, and the impressive majority of them cheer for Toronto Maple Leafs. Rightfully so! Toronto Maple Leafs is not just a home team for the Torontonians, it is also the most valuable professional team in Canada and the most expensive in the National Hockey League (NHL), followed by two American teams - the New York Rangers and the Detroit Red Wings.
Toronto Maple Leafs, currently a member of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of NHL, belongs to the "Original Six" teams of the National Hockey League and is valued at about $413 million. Their home arena is located at the Toronto's Air Canada Centre. The franchise, known as the Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Club, is managed by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. Traditionally, Toronto Maple Leafs has always had the hottest rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens, while recently the sharpest competition has also been spread to the Ottawa Senators.
The history of the team began together with the history of the NHL in 1917. Since them, Maple Leafs has won 13 Stanley Cups, 11 of which - under its present name, one - under the name Toronto St. Patricks, and one more - as the Toronto Arenas. The Toronto Arenas was the first of the Stanley Cup owners after the 1917-1918 season. The team changed its name to the Toronto St. Patricks in 1919 and won the Lord Stanley's Cup in 1922. In February 1927, Conn Smythe purchased the "St. Pats" and renamed them into the Maple Leafs. The last so far Stanley Cup was won by Maple Leafs back in the 1960s. The worst seasons for the team, known as the time of "Great Depression", were observed in the 1980s, when Toronto Maple Leafs missed five playoffs and traded away its best players - Sittler, McDonald and Keon. However, the team has been able to overcome bad times and gain back the respect of their fans.
Maple Leafs fans, also collectively known as "Leafs Nation", are probably the most passionate hockey fans in the world. Even during the worst seasons for their team, Maple Leafs home games are always sold out and tickets purchased months in advance.
Interestingly, Maple Leafs, popular under the nickname "Buds" (as opposed to the Montreal Canadiens' nick "Habs"), is also the most disliked team by other NHL fans, which allowed famous hockey writer Michael Farber to call Buds "the most hated team in hockey".