The Toronto Maple Leafs have officially clinched the North Division after a long season of being the unofficial division winners. This is great news for the Leafs, all us fans, and an important step in the march towards hockey world domination.

What isn’t great news is that it has been 21 years since the Maple Leafs won their division. Yes, an entire generation has come to be without ever seeing the Leafs raise the John Q. Sportington Trophy or whatever happens to division winners. I can’t remember, it’s been so long.

Come on this trip with me Maple Leafs fans, as we explore how the world has changed between wins.

Toronto Maple Leafs

The last Maple Leafs team to win their division, clinched the title of Northeast division champions at the end of the 1999-2000 season. This was back when the league had three divisions of five teams per conference.

Full division standings:

1999-2000 Northeast Division standings

1Toronto Maple Leafs824527732462221103100
2Ottawa Senators82412811224421085095
3Buffalo Sabres823532114213204117385
4Montreal Canadiens82353494196194106783
5Boston Bruins82243319621024886573

Yes, there were TIES back when the Leafs last won the division.

The 2000 roster that won the division featured Maple Leafs Legends Row legends Mats Sundin and Wendel Clark, as well as popular players Steve Thomas, Dmitry Yushkevich, Tomas Kaberle, Curtis Joseph, Darcy Tucker, Tie Domi, and everyone’s favourite commentator Glenn Healy.

The Maple Leafs have gone through seven coaches in this time, an average of three years per coach:

  • Pat Quinn (1999-2006)
  • Paul Maurice (2006-2008)
  • Ron Wilson (2008-2012)
  • Randy Carlyle (2012-2015)
  • Peter Horachek (2015)
  • Mike Babcock (2015-2019)
  • Sheldon Keefe (2019-Present)/

Those coaches have worked for seven GM’s, it’s nice the numbers are the same.

  • Pat Quinn (1999-2003)
  • John Ferguson Jr (2003-2008)
  • Cliff Fletcher (2008)
  • Brian Burke (2008-2013)
  • Dave Nonis (2013-2015)
  • Lou Lamoriello (2015-2018)
  • Kyle Dubas (2018-Present)/

Sadly we have not had seven captains to keep the theme going.

  • Mats Sundin (1997-2008)
  • Dion Phaneuf (2010-2016)
  • John Tavares (2019-Present)/

The arena has had two names:

  • Air Canada Centre
  • Scotiabank Arena/

And the team has had three ownership groups headed up by:

Of course, the post-season run ended in the second round with one of the worst playoff games ever.

Six Shots Allowed, Sykora Needed One to Sink Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs only made the playoffs eight times since this division win.

National Hockey League

The NHL has changed a lot since 2000. The biggest gameplay change was the removal of ties and the introduction of shootouts in 2005. The biggest news item was the cancelled 2004-05 season, and the biggest league change was the introduction of the salary cap, also in 2005. The NHLPA is on its fourth Executive Director since 2000; the NHL is still run by Gary Bettman.

Twelve teams have won the Stanley Cup:

  • Pittsburgh Penguins 3x (2009, 16, 17)
  • Chicago Blackhawks 3x (2010, 13, 15)
  • Los Angeles Kings 2x (2012, 14)
  • New Jersey Devils 2x (2000, 03)
  • Tampa Bay Lightning 2x (2004, 20)
  • Detroit Red Wings 2x (2002, 08)
  • Colorado Avalanche (2001)
  • Carolina Hurricanes (2006)
  • Anaheim Ducks (2007)
  • Boston Bruins (2011)
  • Washington Capitals (2018)
  • St Louis Blues (2019)/

Here are all of the Cup winning goals:

Thirteen teams have won the Presidents Trophy (the true test of merit)

  • Detroit Red Wings 4x (2002, 04, 06, 08)
  • Washington Capitals 3x (2010, 16, 17)
  • Vancouver Canucks 2x (2011, 12)
  • Boston Bruins 2x (2014, 20)
  • Tampa Bay Lightning (2019)
  • Chicago Blackhawks (2013)
  • New York Rangers (2015)
  • Nashville Predators (2018)
  • Ottawa Senators (2003)
  • San Jose Sharks (2009)
  • Buffalo Sabres (2007)
  • St. Louis Blues (2000)
  • Colorado Avalanche (2001)/

Here are all the trophy winning goals:

11 players have scored 1000 points since 2000:

  • Marian Hossa
  • Jarome Iginla
  • Joe Thornton
  • Daniel Sedin
  • Henrik Sedin
  • Eric Staal
  • Sidney Crosby
  • Alex Ovechkin
  • Evgeni Malkin
  • Anze Kopitar
  • Patrick Kane/

Some random NHL facts for you:

  • Rick DiPietro was drafted by the New York Islanders in 2000, retired in 2013, is still on the Islanders payroll and will be until 2029.
  • Ilya Kovalchuk was drafted into the NHL in 2001, retired from the NHL in 2013, unretired from the NHL in 2018, then retired from the NHL a second time in 2020. Per media reports he is now looking to unretire a second time and start playing in the NHL again this fall.
  • Five years after the division clinch, Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby made their NHL debuts. They are currently playing in their 15th NHL seasons, still for the same team that drafted them.
  • The Edmonton Oilers won three straight lotteries for the first overall pick, drafted Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Nail Yakupov. Only Nugent-Hopkins is still an Oiler.
  • The Oilers also won a fourth draft lottery and picked Connor McDavid who has scored 560 points in 401 games, and played a grand total of only 13 playoff games.
  • The NHL has added two new teams, the Vegas Golden Knights and Seattle Kraken.
  • The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Phoenix Coyotes rebranded, Anaheim became not-so mighty Ducks and the Coyotes represent the entire state of Arizona now.
  • The Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg, and became the second incarnation of the Jets*, but most people pretend they never played in Atlanta for some reason.
  • The NHL has held two World Cup of Hockey tournaments over the past 21 years and Team Canada won both of them, defeating Finland in 2004, and ‘Team The Rest of Europe’ in 2016./

Everything else

Around the world plenty of things have changed and happened and faded in and out of pop culture.

Canada has had four Prime Ministers:

  • Jean Chrétien (1993-2003)
  • Paul Martin (2003-2006)
  • Stephen Harper (2006-2015)
  • Justin Trudeau (2015-Present)/

Toronto has had four Mayors:

  • Mel Lastman (1998-2003)
  • David Miller (2003-2010)
  • Rob Ford (2010-2014)
  • John Tory (2014- present)/

The United States have seen five presidents come and go:

  • Bill Clinton (1993-2001)
  • George W Bush (2001-2009)
  • Barack Obama (2009-2017)
  • Donald Trump (2017-2021)
  • Joe Biden (2021-Present)/

X-Men premiered on July 12th, 2000 kicking off the super hero movies craze, and since this movie there has been FIFTY-FOUR movies based on Marvel Comics.

The Simpsons aired 269 episodes before this Division clinching, and have aired 437 since.

  • Cell phones have gone from a Nokia that plays snake as the height of excitement, to a replacement for literally every electronic device that has ever existed.
  • The PlayStation 2 debuted and since then the PlayStation family has sold approximately 366 million units.
  • In comparison Nintendo has sold a combined 136 million units of the Gamecube, Wii, WiiU, and Switch.
  • The Grand Theft Auto video game series hit mainstream with GTA 3 on the PlayStation 2 in 2001 and the franchise has since grossed over $9 billion.
  • There have been 69 Pokemon games released.
  • Wikipedia launched in 2001, making it easier than ever to write listicles.
  • Tom Brady won 7 Super Bowls
  • Lebron James won 4 NBA titles
  • Serena Williams won 22 Grand Slam singles tournaments, 12 doubles, and four Olympic Gold Medals
  • Lewis Hamilton won seven world championships, 97 race wins, and 100 pole positions in Formula 1. (potentially 98 by Sunday afternoon).
  • Five FIFA World Cups have been played, with a different winner every time: Brazil (2002), Italy (2006), Spain (2010), Germany (2014), France (2018)
  • ESPN lost the national US TV broadcast rights for NHL hockey in 2004, and now, 17 years later, has won them back again.
  • 8 Star Wars films have been released.
  • 8 Spiderman films have been released.
  • 1 Avatar film was released in 2009, and its four planned sequels have still not been released.
  • 4 new elements have been created and added to the periodic table: Oganesson, Moscovium, Nihonium, and Tennessine
  • In mid-2000 Yahoo and AOL had a combined valuation of $240 billion. Last week AOL was packaged with Yahoo and sold to a private equity firm for $5 billion.
  • Steve Jobs released the first iPod (2001)
  • Facebook launched in 2004 and ruined everything
  • We’ve had three popes! Bet you can’t name them!
  • Reddit launched in 2005 and everything got even worse
  • Twitter launched in 2006 and oh man...
  • We have had seven worldwide epidemics: HIV/AIDS (1983-now), SARS (2002-04), Swine-Flu (2009-10), MERS (2012), Ebola Virus (2013-16), Zika Virus (2015-16), and COVID-19 (2019-Now, right now, while you’re reading this)
  • I have depressed countless readers just now/

All about me!

Personally, I’ve had quite the time.

  • I graduated high school - 2002
  • I moved to the big city to go to college - 2003
  • I got my first “real” job - 2004
  • I got married - 2005
  • My first kid was born and I moved home from the big scary city - 2008
  • I bought my first car! - 2010
  • Second kid born - 2011
  • Graduated college - 2012
  • Fired from that first job - 2017
  • Got a new job! - 20178
  • Fired from that job, got a new one - 2019
  • Fought a chicken - 2020/

What a life I’ve lived! We’ve all had so much time to live and grow and shrink over this long, long, long, long amount of time between division wins.

I can't wait to write the "since they won a Stanely Cup" post in July.