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Remembering The Toronto Toros

from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,

As bad as the Maple Leafs have been most of the past decade, despite the 47 years of anguish on Bay St., the assumption remains: Toronto would never support another pro hockey team.

But 40 years ago this season, the battle was on for the hearts, minds — and wallets — of fans in the city. It would be fought in the confines of the same building, the Leafs’ ancestral home at the Gardens. The invaders wore blue and red, with a snorting bull on their sweaters, and had nicknames such as Shot Gun Tom, Leapin’ Lou and Big Ned.

They were the Toros, “second to none,” as their theme song boasted on their home network, Global TV. Between 1973-76, when they lured disgruntled blue and white fans and provided a high school demographic some Friday night fun, the Toros were goring Leaf Nation.

“For a while, Harold Ballard was pretty worried about us,” said former Toro forward Mark Napier. “Our attendance was going up.”


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Remembering The Toronto Toros

from Jamie Bradburn at the Torontoist,

It was inevitable that hockey-mad Toronto would wind up with a WHA franchise to take on the Maple Leafs during the league’s seven-year odyssey. The tale of the Toronto Toros is marked by family rivalries, local heroes, international defections, and a lot of money down the drain.

The Toros’ story began when an “Ontario” franchise was established after the initial batch of WHA teams were granted in 1972. Initially earmarked for Hamilton, the team settled in Ottawa as the Nationals. The 1972/73 season resulted in a sub-.500 record, weak crowds, and a battle with civic officials over performance bonds for the following season. The Nationals shifted their playoff games to Maple Leaf Gardens as rumours arose around two groups interested in buying the team and shifting its operations permanently to Toronto.

read on

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