|Toronto St. Michael's Majors|
|League||Ontario Hockey League|
|Home arena||Maple Leaf Gardens|
St. Michael's College School Arena
|Colours||Light blue, navy blue and white|
|Affiliate(s)||St. Michael's Buzzers|
|Parent club(s)||Toronto Maple Leafs|
|Championships||1934, 1945, 1947, & 1961 Memorial Cups|
|1906–1962||Toronto St. Michael's Majors|
|1996–2007||Toronto St. Michael's Majors|
|2007–2012||Mississauga St. Michael's Majors|
The Toronto St. Michael's Majors were a major junior ice hockey team in the Ontario Hockey League, based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The most recent franchise was revived on August 15, 1996. In 2007, the team relocated to Mississauga, Ontario and became the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors until 2012. The hockey program was founded and operated by St. Michael's College School in 1906, and adopted the name "Majors" in 1934, and was commonly referred to as St. Mike's Majors.
The St. Michael's College Hockey Team was first established in 1906 when the team joined the junior division of the Ontario Hockey Association. The team was not known as the St. Michael's Majors until 1934, and also had the informal nickname of the "Irish". The school team played for 55 years until 1961 before suspending operations.
St. Michael's revived the Majors (Junior A Tier I) hockey team for the 1997-98 season in the Ontario Hockey League. In total, over one hundred St. Michael's Majors alumni have gone on to play in the National Hockey League, including 13 members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The hockey team was founded and operated by St. Michael's College School, a Catholic secondary school in uptown Toronto. The college's hockey team soon blossomed, as demand for a Catholic program was high. The school competed with their crosstown rivals, the Protestant organized Toronto Marlborough Athletic Club for Toronto's hockey supremacy. Players in the St. Michael's Majors program, were also enrolled in the school.
St. Michael's were successful in recruiting players and providing a complete education at the same time. The college built a strong reputation in moulding outstanding and well-rounded young citizens. Four years after the hockey program started, St. Michael's were Canadian Amateur Champions, winning the Allan Cup in 1910.
In 1933, the Ontario Hockey Association's Junior division, split into 'A' and 'B' levels. St. Michael's also divided its hockey program into two teams accordingly. The Junior 'A' team became the Majors, the Junior 'B' team was known as St. Michael's Buzzers.
The Majors dominated the Junior A hockey scene during the 1933-34 season. The team was undefeated in the regular season, and kept rolling through the playoffs, the Ontario Championship, Eastern Canadian Championship and the Memorial Cup. Also of note, in 1933-34 the Buzzers won the Sutherland Cup as Ontario Junior 'B' champions.
St. Michael's featured the likes of Bobby Bauer, Reg Hamilton, Art Jackson, Regis (Pep) Kelly, Nick Metz, Don Wilson, Mickey Drouillard, goaltenders Harvey Teno and Jack Hamilton. The Toronto team was coached by Dr. W. J. (Jerry) Laflamme, a dentist who had quite a hockey history. He refereed in the NHL in the 1920s. That was after he had played defence on the Allan Cup winners from St. Michael's in 1909-1910 and captained the Allan Cup-winning Dentals of Toronto in 1916-17.
In the 1934 playoffs St. Michael's skated to 8-2, and 9-3 victories versus the Ottawa Shamrocks to win the two game series for the Ontario title. In the following series, Toronto faced the Charlottetown Abegweits in the eastern final, played in Toronto. The Majors prevailed again in two games, by scores of 12-2 and 7-2. The Memorial Cup final was played at Shea's Amphitheatre in Winnipeg, where St. Michael's faced the Edmonton Athletic Club in a best-of-three series for the title. The Majors picked up Turk Broda from the Winnipeg Monarchs to back up if goaltender Harvey Teno was injured. St. Mike's opened with a 5-0 victory over the Athletics on April 3. More than 4,500 fans showed up for game 2 on April 5. St. Michael's won its first Memorial Cup championship, with a 6-4 victory in overtime.
St. Michael's made their second trip to the OHA finals in 1937, and again faced the same opponent from in 1934, the Stratford Midgets. Toronto prevailed winning 3 games to 2. In the Ontario Championship, St. Michael's faced a familiar foe in the Copper Cliff Redmen. The Redmen previously played in Newmarket in the same league as Toronto, but switched to NOHA. Toronto lost to the northern Ontario champions, in 2 straight games.
Joe Primeau returned to coach the 1945 Memorial Cup St. Michael's team, after being runners-up in the OHA finals in 1944. In 1945, Toronto won the J. Ross Robertson Cup, defeating the Galt Black Hawks in four games straight. The Majors advanced further by eliminating the Montreal Royals in six games in the eastern final. They won the sixth game 7-4 behind Joe Sadler's three goals in front of 10,548 fans at Maple Leaf Gardens on April 11.
The Memorial Cup final was played in its entirety at Maple Leaf Gardens. The Majors' opponents were the Moose Jaw Canucks coached by Roy Bentley. Toronto won game one 8-5 on April 14, then Moose Jaw turned the tables on April 16 with a 5-3 victory to even the series. The Majors won each of the next three games by scores of 6-3, 4-3 and 7-2 in the deciding game. Trail, B.C. native Frank Turik scored three hat tricks in the five games to become the tournament's leading goal scorer.
Paid attendance for the five games was 65,437, which exceeded the Maple Leaf Gardens junior record for five games (59,301) that had been set in 1943 when the Winnipeg Rangers tangled with the Oshawa Generals. That 1943 series still held the six-game record of 73,867.
St. Michael's returned to the Memorial Cup for a second consecutive year in 1946. The Majors defeated the Oshawa Generals in a six-game, coming back from two games behind for the OHA championship. St. Michael's then swept the Montreal Junior Canadiens in three games straight in the eastern finals.
The Majors met up with the Winnipeg Monarchs at Maple Leaf Gardens on April 13 to start the best-of-seven series for the national championship. Winnipeg won the first game 3 to 2, then Toronto rallied to win the next two games 5 to 3, and 7 to 3, before the Monarchs even the series in game four, winning 4 to 3. Toronto scored a 7 to 4 victory in game five, needing only one more win to be the second team to repeat as Memorial Cup champions. Winnipeg spoiled the plans, winning consecutive 4 to 2 victories to take the cup back west in 1946.
The 1947 cup would be a rematch of the 1945 Memorial Cup final versus the Moose Jaw Canucks. This series however, was not played at Maple Leaf Gardens, but rather played in Winnipeg, Moose Jaw and Regina. On the road to their third consecutive Memorial Cup appearance, St. Michael's repeated their sweep of the Galt Black Hawks in the OHA finals from two 1945, and the previous year's sweep on the Montreal Jr. Canadiens in the eastern finals.
The Memorial Cup's best-of-seven final opened in Winnipeg on April 15 with Toronto hammering Moose Jaw 12 to 3. The teams then headed for Moose Jaw, where game two was to be played on April 17, at the newly constructed arena. Toronto St. Michael's won that game 6 to 1. Game three was played in Regina, which Toronto kept up its momentum, winning 8 to 1. Game three ended with seven minutes to play in the third period, when the ice was littered for a second time with broken bottles thrown from the stands. Three nights later in Regina, St. Michael's finished the series with a 3 to 2 victory, for their third Memorial Cup title.
The Majors returned to the Memorial Cup in 1961 after coming close each of the two previous years. Toronto lost a very close eight game series in the 1959 OHA finals to the Peterborough Petes, 3 games to 2, with three games tied. In 1960 the Majors lost in 6 games to the St. Catharines Teepees.
Father David Bauer led the 1961 St. Michael's Majors to the OHA finals in 1961, where they upset the first place Guelph Royals 4 games to 2 with a tie, to win the J. Ross Robertson Cup. In the eastern championship the Majors swept the Moncton Beavers.
The 1961 Memorial Cup finals were played in the old Edmonton Gardens, with St. Michael's dominating the first two games. Toronto won the first game 4 to 0 backed by a shutout performance of goalie Gerry Cheevers. The Majors won the second game 4 to 1, with Cheevers coming within 6 minutes and 35 seconds of two consecutive shutouts. Game three was a much closer affair with Toronto holding on to win 4 to 2. Edmonton would not go down easily winning the next two games, in two grueling matches by scores of 5 to 4, and 4 to 2. St. Michael's would make history in game six, winning 4 to 2 and capturing their fourth Memorial Cup title, which stood at the record until broken by the Toronto Marlboros.
The 1961 Memorial Cup victory was the end of the line for the Majors in the OHA circuit. Participation was seen in an increasingly negative light by the school's administration because of the circuit's relentless grind, escalating travel, physical play, and the junior league being operated in a manner similar to the NHL.
Father David Bauer sent a letter to Conn Smythe during the 1960-61 season, which stated:
"My opinion is that sooner or later, they (the college) will see fit to discontinue the Junior A series because of its growing professionalism, its long schedule and rough play which so often results in unfavourable publicity difficult for the educational institution to handle gracefully."
The St. Michael's team finished in first place in the Metro Junior A league, and competed for the J. Ross Robertson Cup again in 1962. Coached by Ted Flanagan, the team lost in the Cup finals to the Hamilton Red Wings.
Despite being the league champions in the 1961-62 season, St. Michael's discontinued its program altogether, and the team was relocated to Neil McNeil Catholic Secondary School in Scarborough, Ontario, becoming the Toronto Neil McNeil Maroons. Father Bauer chose to pursue building a university-educated Canadian National team instead.
The modern era of the St. Michael's Majors began on August 15, 1996, when the College was admitted to the OHL as an expansion team. Players would no longer be required to attend St. Michael's College School in Toronto, although some did. The team would also take part each year in the "Priority Selection" drafting new players, as opposed to relying on the student body for recruits.
Originally owned by St. Michael's College School, the team was now owned by Eugene Melnyk, who is the current owner of the Ottawa Senators and was formerly, CEO of Biovail Corporation. Melnyk pursued several deals to get a new arena for his team, but none came to fruition. One of Melnyk's foiled plans included purchasing Maple Leaf Gardens. The revived Majors struggled on the ice, and missed the playoffs in each of their first three seasons. During their second season, the Majors started strong, but traded four of their best players (Sheldon Keefe, Mike Jefferson, Ryan Barnes and Shawn Cation) to the Barrie Colts midway through the season, as a result of controversy surrounding David Frost.
The Majors made breakthroughs in their fourth season. Toronto reached the conference finals four consecutive years from 2001 to 2004. Their closest point to reaching the league finals was in 2003, leading 3 games to 2 versus the Ottawa 67's and losing game six on home ice in overtime.
The Majors played on the smallest ice surface in the OHL, which tended to have a higher average of shots on goal per game than other arenas. Fittingly, the Majors produced several noted goaltenders in their recent history, including Peter Budaj, Andy Chiodo and Justin Peters.
On July 12, 2006, Eugene Melnyk bought the Mississauga IceDogs. After the 2006-07 season, Melnyk sold the IceDogs, and moved the Majors to the Hershey Centre in Mississauga. The IceDogs, in turn, moved to Jack Gatecliff Arena in St. Catharines, Ontario.
The Majors won the right to host the 2011 Memorial Cup over the Barrie Colts, Kingston Frontenacs and Windsor Spitfires. The Ontario Hockey League (OHL) announced on May 10, 2010 that the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors were chosen to host the 93rd annual Memorial Cup at the Hershey Centre from May 20–29, 2011. The Saint John Sea Dogs defeated the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors 3–1 in the final.
The primary logo for the Majors displays "St. Michael's" written in script, with a Majors underscore written in light blue. The Toronto St. Michael's Majors colours are light blue, navy blue & white. The Majors hockey uniforms feature a different logo, a large letter "M" on the front, with the school crest (inset right) on the upper left chest, and the St. Michael's cloverleaf patch on the shoulders.
Home uniforms have a white background, navy blue shoulders and arms, with light blue trim. Road uniforms have a light blue background, with navy blue shoulders, and white trim. The Majors have also used a third jersey with a stylized "M" on the front, and without the navy blue shoulders.
To celebrate the Majors 10th season back in the league, the team launched a new 3rd jersey with the shoulder cloverleaf logo on the front. The jersey is also baby blue in colour. After the move, the Majors' logo was changed slightly to a more modernized look, and new jerseys were unveiled.
The St. Michael's Majors play at the school-owned St. Michael's College School Arena. The arena is located in uptown Toronto near the intersection of Bathurst Street and St. Clair Avenue behind St. Michael's College School. The college arena is by far the smallest in the Ontario Hockey League in terms of both ice size and seating. The arena is also home to the St. Michael's Buzzers of the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League.
The St. Michael's Majors previously played at Maple Leaf Gardens for their first three seasons from 1997 to 2000. The original Majors also played at Maple Leaf Gardens from its construction in 1931 to their folding in the early 1960s. When the Gardens was finally scheduled to close a year after the last Toronto Maple Leafs game, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment evicted the Majors, who moved to the arena on the college campus, in spite of the fact that the major junior team had only played there rarely before.
The Majors also played selected home games during the 1999-00 season at the Air Canada Centre vs the Mississauga IceDogs and Brampton Battalion, and also an inter-league game versus the Montreal Rocket.
In 2003-04 and 2006-07 seasons, the Majors played two home games vs the Ottawa 67's at Scotiabank Place in Kanata, Ontario. This arose from the common ownership between the St. Michael's Majors and the Ottawa Senators by Eugene Melnyk.
The Mississauga St. Michael's Majors played home games at the Hershey Centre in northeast Mississauga, near the junction of Highway 401 & Highway 403. The Hershey Centre hosted the OHL All-Star Game in 2000. The arena also hosted the 2011 Memorial Cup from May 19–29.
List of modern era coaches with multiple seasons in parentheses.
The St. Michael's Majors have retired four jersey numbers:
The St. Michael's Majors have honoured the following people with banners in the rafters.
Hockey Hall of Fame inductees listed in bold type.
Records from 1997 to present.
|1938–39||14||10||4||0||20||0.714||70||43||1st Group 1|
|1943–44||25||21||4||0||44||0.840||169||69||2nd Group 1|
|1961–62||33||25||7||1||55||0.773||170||91||1st Metro Jr.A|
|1962–63||See Toronto Neil McNeil Maroons|
Team relocated to Mississauga