I picked a player, but did I pick the right one? Borje Salming is a hall of famer, the #21 is retired for him and he has a statue outside the ACC. You tell me. Is Salming the man for the number?

Borje Salming (1973-1989)
Stats: 1099 GP - 148 G - 620 A - 768 Pts - 1292PM

The past few numbers have been a choice between two or three players, but this one is an easy decision. Borje Salming wore #21 for sixteen years. He proved the Don Cherry’s of the world wrong who thought European players were all soft and couldn’t fit in with the Canadian style of hockey at the time.

Salming joined the Leafs in 1973, and slowly grew accustomed to NHL hockey over the next three seasons. By his fourth year in the league he was scoring over 70 points in the next four seasons. A steady influence on the team both on the ice and off Salming saw some great Leafs teams, and some terrible ones. He still holds the record for career assists with the Leafs, is fourth in career points, and is first in records for defenders (points, goals, and assists) and still holds the single season record for assists by a defender.

He was entered into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996, the IIHF Hall of Fame in 1998, the Swedish Hockey Hall of Fame, was added to Legend’s Row, and the #21 was retired for him in 2017.

If you want a second choice, it’s Bob Baun:

Bob Baun (1957-67/1971-73)
Stats: 719GP - 29G - 135A - 164Pts - 1118PM
Awards: Stanley Cup 1962, 63, 64, 67

If there was a competition, Bob Baun and his 700+ games would be the only other choice. He won four Stanley Cups with the Leafs, He was a solid defensive defenseman, known for his hard, clean hits and focused more on keeping the opposing players away from his net than he did for trying to rack up the points. Baun was popular among others, often giving contract and negotiation advice. This put him at odds with Punch Imlach and Harold Ballard. After sitting out the start of the 65/66 season, and getting injured in the 66/67 season, Imlach benched him for the playoffs and he wouldn’t participate in on ice ceremonies following the 1967 win. He was left exposed in the 1967 expansion draft and was claimed by the Oakland Seals.

In 1970 he was put on waivers by the Red Wings and claimed by the Buffalo Sabres, whose general manager was Punch Imlach. He traded Baun to the Blues, but Baun refused to report. The Blues would end up traded Baun to the Maple Leafs. He played two more seasons with the Leafs and his time with the team endd dramatically, if I can jsut copy/paste from Wikipedia:

In the fifth game of the 1972–73 season, he suffered a neck injury after a hit from Mickey Redmond that ended his NHL career at the age of 36. Baun played with a broken leg as well as having a skate cut his neck. Tim Horton found him outside the tour bus and carried him to local hospital where he was found to be hemorrhaging. After many pints of blood, he was placed next to his wife who was giving birth to their third son.

Other 21’s:

Gary Aldcorn (1956-57)
Stats: 22GP - 5G - 1A - 6Pts - 4PM

In his first pro season he would play most of the year in Rochester. He would play three other season with the Leafs in other numbers as well.

Bob Bailey (1955-56)
Stats: 6GP - 0G - 0A - 0Pts - 6PM

Bailey played three seasons with the Leafs but all were up and down with the Americans.

Aaron Broten (1990-91)
Stats: 27P - 6G - 4A - 10Pts - 32PM

Broten came over in a multi-player deal from the Nordiques. He would leave the team at the end of the season.

Terry Clancy (1968-70)
Stats: 54P - 6G - 5A - 11Pts - 31PM

The son of Maple Leafs legend King Clancy, Terry played around the minors until he signed with the Leafs in the 68-69 season. He played three seasons with the Leafs around some minor league games, and then played a few more minor league seasons before retiring.

Mariusz Czerkawski (2005-06)
Stats: 19P - 4G - 1A - 5Pts - 6PM

He spent most of the season as a healthy scratch until he was put on waivers and claimed by the Boston Bruins.

Ron Hurst (1956-57)
Stats: 14P - 2G - 2A -4Pts - 8PM

He played a few game sin his final season with the Leafs, but sent the most of his career in the minors.

Danny Lewicki (1950-53)
Stats: 116P - 21G - 30A -51Pts - 54PM
Awards: Stanley Cup - 1951

Joining the Leafs out of Junior Lewicki would win the cup in his first pro season, but each of his next three seasons with the Leafs would be split between the NHL and AHL. In the 1954 off-season he would be traded to the New York Rangers for cash.

Parker MacDonald (1952-53/54-55)
Stats: 63P - 8G - 3A -11Pts - 36PM

He played one game in the 52-53 season, and then came back up for the 54-55 season. After one more season he would move on from the Leafs.

Adam Mair (1999-2001)
Stats: 24P - 1G - 2A -3Pts - 20PM

A fourth round pick for the Maple Leafs, Mair played most of his time in the Leafs system in the minors before being traded with a 2nd round pick for Aki Berg. He’s currently a development coach with the Buffalo Sabres.

Willie Marshall (1952-53/1955-56)
Stats: 8GP - 0G - 0A -0Pts - 0PM

A career minor leaguer, played a few games with the Leafs.

Jamal Mayers (2008-10)
Stats: 115GP - 9G - 15A - 24Pts - 160PM

Brought in as a free agent in 2008, Mayers would play a season and a half before being sent to the Calgary Flames in the Dion Phaneuf trade.

Sean McKenna (1989-90)
Stats: 5GP - 0G - 0A -0Pts - 20PM

Coming to the Leafs from the Los Angeles Kings for Mike Allison, McKenna played two and a half seasons with the Leafs, the final two split between St. John’s and Toronto. After that he would play one season in the Quebec Senior Professional Hockey League and retire.

Kirk Muller (1996-97)
Stats: 102GP - 29G - 33A - 62Pts - 127PM

Muller came to the Leafs in a trade with the Islanders after Muller’s contentious time there. He would be traded to the Florida Panthers midway through the following season for  Jason Podollan.

Mark Osborne (1992-1994)
Stats: 197GP - 25G - 33A - 58Pts - 261PM

His first stint with the Leafs came in #11, before being traded to the Winnipeg Jets with Ed Olczyk in fall of 1990. Near the end of the 91-92 season the Leafs would bring Osborne back from the Jets in exchange for Lucien DeBlois.

John Pohl (2006-2008)
Stats: 107GP - 14G - 20A - 34Pts - 20PM

Coming to the Maple Leafs from the Blues in the 2005 off season, Pohl played his first season in Toronto with the Marlies aside from a brief call up. After his  final two seasons here he would go play in Europe.

Martin Prochazka (1997-98)
Stats: 29GP - 2G - 4A - 6Pts - 8PM

A 7th round pick, he would play one season in Toronto and three games in Atlanta before returning to the Czech Republic and spend his career there. He is currently head coach of HC Risuty in the Division 3 Czech league.

Robert Reichel (2001-2004)
Stats: 228GP - 43G - 80A - 123Pts - 82PM

Coming to the Leafs From the Coyotes in exchange for Danny Markov, Reichel would play centre behind Mats Sundin for three seasons before returning to the Czech Republic for the rest of his career, captaining HC Litvinov for six seasons.

Warren Rychel (1995)
Stats: 26GP - 1G - 6A - 7Pts - 101PM

Coming from the Capitals for a fourth round pick, Rychel would play out the season with the Leafs and then be traded to the Avalanche at the start of the 95-96 season. He is currently co-owner, GM, and VP of Hockey Operations for the OHL WIndsor Spitfires. His son Kerby plays for the Toronto Marlies.

Darryl Sly (1965-66/67-68)
Stats: 19GP - 0G - 0A - 0Pts - 4PM

Playing four years for the Leafs farm team in Rochester before a couple call ups, Sly moved on from the Leafs but never made it out of the minors aside from an appearance on the Canucks and North Stars.

Bob Solinger (1952-54)
Stats: 57GP - 4G - 3A - 7Pts - 4PM

Played up and down for the Leafs and Pittsburgh Hornets until 1956 when he was one of six players the Maple Leafs sent the Red Wings for cash.

James van Riemsdyk (2013-2017)
Stats: 250GP - 89G - 89A - 240Pts - 144PM

Trade to Toronto by the Flyers for Luke Schenn (giggles), JVR has been one of the top wingers for the Leafs over the past six seasons. Switching to #25 from #21 after #21 was retired at the beginning of last season, his numbers in #21 were amazing, at just under a point per game.

Who was the best #21 for the Maple Leafs?

Borje Salming391
Bob Baun29
Gary Aldcorn0
Bob Bailey0
Aaron Broten0
Terry Clancy0
Mariusz Czerkawski 1
Ron Hurst 0
Danny Lewicki 0
Parker MacDonald 1
Adam Mair 1
Willie Marshall 1
Jamal Mayers0
Sean McKenna0
Kirk Muller0
Mark Osborne3
John Pohl 0
Martin Prochazka0
Robert Reichel 1
Warren Rychel0
Darryl Sly0
Bob Solinger 0
James van Riemsdyk 38