Toronto Marlboros

The Toronto Marlborough Athletic Club, commonly known as the Toronto Marlboros, was founded in 1903. It operated a junior ice hockey team in the Ontario Hockey Association and Ontario Hockey League from 1904 to 1989. The Marlboros were a farm team to the Toronto Maple Leafs and one of the dominant junior teams in history, winning seven Memorial Cup championships.

Toronto Marlborough
Athletic Club
CityToronto, Ontario
LeagueOntario Hockey League
Founded1903 (1903)
Home arenaMaple Leaf Gardens
ColoursBlue and white
Parent club(s)Toronto Maple Leafs
Championships1929, 1955, 1956, 1964, 1967, 1973, & 1975 Memorial Cup Champions
Franchise history
1904–1989Toronto Marlboros
1989–1991Dukes of Hamilton
1991–presentGuelph Storm

Other Toronto Marlboros teams include a senior ice hockey team which competed for the Stanley Cup in 1904 and won the Allan Cup in 1950, and a Minor Hockey team, which has operated continuously since 1931.

Their heritage has been resumed under the present-day Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.


The Toronto Marlborough Athletic Club was founded in Toronto, Ontario in 1903 by a group of Toronto sportsmen. It was named after the Duke of Marlborough.[1] A hockey program was started in 1904. The team was commonly known as the Marlboros or Marlies and was also nicknamed the Dukes.

In the early years, the Marlboros were just one of many athletic clubs and junior hockey teams in and around Toronto that played in relative obscurity. The senior ice hockey team competed for, but lost, the Stanley Cup in 1904 against the Ottawa Silver Seven.[1][2] The club was thrust onto the national scene in 1927 when Conn Smythe bought the Toronto Marlboros to be the farm team for his other recently acquired National Hockey League team, the Toronto Maple Leafs.[1][2] From 1927 to 1989 the Marlboros and Maple Leafs shared common ownership, first under the Smythe family and later under Harold Ballard. Upon the death of Conn Smythe, his son Stafford Smythe inherited the teams, and later sold a portion of both clubs to Harold Ballard. Ballard became sole owner of both teams upon the passing of Stafford Smythe.

The Marlboros served as a farm team for the Maple Leafs for 40 years until direct NHL sponsorship of junior teams ended in 1967 when the NHL made the Entry Draft universal;[1][3] however, the two clubs continued to remain affiliated under a common ownership until 1989. During this time the Marlboros sent over 180 players to the NHL, including six future Hockey Hall of Fame inductees. The two teams often played double headers on Saturdays, with the junior games in the afternoon and the NHL games in the evening.

The original Hot Stove Club was formed at Maple Leaf Gardens on May 28, 1937, for the purpose of raising funds to support the Marlborough Hockey Club. The Hot Stove Club was given a permanent bar & lounge at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1963. From 1929 to 1975 the Marlboros won the national junior championship seven times.

Marlboro players from the Memorial Cups in the 1950s and 1960s jumped directly to the Maple Leafs, helping them win the Stanley Cup four times in the 1960s. Former NHL stars stayed in the organization to help coach in the junior ranks. Turk Broda and George Armstrong both coached the Marlboros to Memorial Cup victories.

Stafford Smythe organized the Metro Junior A League in 1961 as a rival league to the OHA, with the Marlboros as its charter member. After the league folded in 1963, the Marlboros scooped up all the former stars from the Toronto Neil McNeil Maroons who had won two consecutive Metro Junior A league titles, and also retained their coach, Jim Gregory. The 1964 Marlboros were one of the strongest teams in Canadian junior history.

The Marlboros returned to prominence again in 1973, coached by former Toronto Maple Leafs captain George Armstrong. Armstrong's team in 1973 lost only seven games all season, and two years later he coached the Marlboros to their seventh national title in 1975.

The team began to decline in the standings in the late 1970s which continued through the 1980s. Many people felt that Harold Ballard's penny-pinching ways helped contribute to the demise of Canada's most successful junior team. In October 1988, with the team losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, Maple Leaf Gardens Limited reached an agreement to sell the Toronto Marlboros for a reported $500,000, severing their ties with the Maple Leafs.[3][4][5][6][7] The Leafs retained the rights to the Marlies name.[4][5][6] The OHL team moved to Hamilton for the 1989-90 season, becoming the Dukes of Hamilton.[2][6] They were not financially successful in Hamilton, though, and after only two seasons the Dukes became the Guelph Storm.


The Toronto Marlboros won the Memorial Cup seven times, more than any other team in the Cup's history. The Marlies also won 10 OHA championships in 17 final appearances.

Memorial Cups


The Marlboros reached their first Memorial Cup series in 1929 after being upset in 1928 by the Ottawa Gunners. In 1929 the Marlboros defeated the Ottawa Shamrocks in a two-game total goals series by 6 to 5. Ottawa won the first game 4 to 3, and Toronto won the second game 3 to 1.

Toronto played the Elmwood Millionaires from Winnipeg, Manitoba, in a best of three series starting on March 29 at the Arena Gardens (Mutual Street Arena) for the Memorial Cup. The Marlboros won the first game 4 to 2 in overtime. On March 31, Toronto won game 2 by an identical score of 4 to 2 for its first Memorial Cup.


Turk Broda took over the coaching duties of the Marlboros midway through the 1954–55 season. In the playoffs the Marlboros defeated the reigning Memorial Cup champions St. Catharines Teepees, followed by the Quebec Remparts to win the Eastern Canadian championship.

After a long train ride to Regina, Saskatchewan, to Marlboros and the Regina Pats took part in the First Annual Memorial Cup Dinner. The idea of the banquet was one of Harold Ballard's many long-lasting effects on the game. The next day the two teams would start a best of seven series for the Cup.

Regina won the first game 3 to 1. Toronto won the next two games scores of 5 to 2, and 3 to 2. Regina tied up game four at 2 goals each in the dying minutes of regulation to send the match to overtime. Billy Harris scored in overtime to give the Marlboros a 3 games to 1 lead. Game five was also tied after three periods. Toronto scored three unanswered goals, winning 8 to 5 in overtime, and their second Memorial Cup.


Toronto defeated the Montreal Junior Canadiens in an 8-game series to return to the Memorial Cup and a rematch versus the Regina Pats. The championship series started at Maple Leaf Gardens on April 27.

The teams tied the first game at 4 goals each. Toronto put together three consecutive victories by scores of 5 to 1, 4 to 2, and 6 to 1. The Marlboros captured their second consecutive Memorial Cup in game five by a score of 7 to 4. The Oshawa Generals were the first team to accomplish the feat in 1938–39 and 1939–40.

Toronto defeated the defending OHA champions Niagara Falls Flyers and the Montreal Jr. Canadiens to win the J. Ross Robertson Cup. The Marlboros swept the NOHA champion North Bay Trappers to play the Quebec champion Notre-Dame-de-Grace Monarchs, who were coached by Scotty Bowman. Toronto prevailed to return to the Memorial Cup after an eight-year absence. Their opponent was the perennial Abbott Cup champion Edmonton Oil Kings.

The series opened at Maple Leaf Gardens with a 5 to 2 Toronto victory. The Marlboros won games two and three with scores of 3 to 2 and 5 to 2. Toronto finished the series sweep with a 7 to 2 win in game 4. Many of the players on the 1964 Marlboros team, including Ron Ellis, Mike Walton and Pete Stemkowski, helped the Maple Leafs capture the Stanley Cup in 1967.


Toronto defeated the Montreal Jr. Canadiens and Hamilton Red Wings for the OHA title, then eliminated the Thetford Mines Canadiens to capture the eastern Canadian championships. The Marlboros played the Port Arthur Marrs in the Memorial Cup series hosted at the Fort William Gardens in what is now the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The Marlboros won the first two games by scores of 6 to 3, and 8 to 4. Port Arthur won the third game 6 to 4 in a heavily penalized match, including a bench brawl with one second left in the game. Toronto won the last two games by scores of 6 to 0, and 6 to 3 capturing its 5th Memorial Cup. In 1966–67, the Maple Leafs also won the Stanley Cup, the last year the two clubs were national champions at the same time.


The Marlboros of 1972–73 lost only seven games in the regular season. The team was ranked # 1 in Canada going into the playoffs. Toronto eliminated the St. Catharines Black Hawks and Ottawa 67's before meeting the Peterborough Petes in the OHA finals.

The series versus the Petes went to a seventh game played at Maple Leaf Gardens in front of 16,485 spectators, a record at the time for junior hockey attendance. Toronto needed only a tie game to advance, and did so in dramatic fashion. Paulin Bordeleau scored on a penalty shot in the last minute to tie the game at 5 goals each.

After winning the OHA title, the Marlboros travelled to Memorial Cup hosted at the Montreal Forum where their opponents would be the Quebec Remparts and the Medicine Hat Tigers, who were led by future NHL star Lanny McDonald.

The Marlies beat Quebec 5 to 2 in the first game, and lost 3 to 2 to the Tigers in the second game. The Remparts then beat the Tigers 8 to 3 in game three. Since each team had won a game, Toronto and Quebec played each other in the finals based on goals for and against. The Marlboros scored a 9 to 1 victory for their 6th Memorial Cup.


The 1975 playoff run for the Marlboros was complicated by Mark Napier and John Tonelli signing professional contracts before the season ended. Tonelli would sit out all the Marlboros games after his 18th birthday so he would not the jeopardize playing for the Houston Aeros.

Toronto stumbled through the playoffs managing come-from-behind victories in series versus the 8th place Kingston Canadians and 5th place Sudbury Wolves. Both series went 8 games, and the Marlboros were a point away from being eliminated each time but stayed alive. The Marlboros then beat the Hamilton Fincups in the finals for their last OHA championship. Toronto would face the New Westminster Bruins, and the Sherbrooke Castors in the Memorial Cup series played at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex.

Toronto beat Sherbrooke 5 to 4 in overtime in game 1 after coming back from three goals down. The Bruins beat the Castors (Beavers in English) 7 to 5 in game two, defeated Toronto 6 to 2 in the third game to reach the finals. In a rematch versus the Castors in the semi-final, Toronto won 10 to 4 to reach the finals versus New Westminster.

The Marlboros continued their momentum in the finals winning 7 to 3, and capturing their seventh and final Memorial Cup championship. Coach Armstrong said it was all worth it, even after his team had tossed him into the hotel swimming pool during a victory party.


One of the most famous Maple Leafs and Marlboros of all time, George Armstrong, coached the Marlboros to their final two Memorial Cup victories in 1972–73 and 1974–75.

Two Toronto Marlboros coaches have been awarded the Matt Leyden Trophy as the OHA Coach of the Year: George Armstrong 1972–73 in his first year, and Dave Chambers in 1979–80.

Partial list of Toronto Marlboros coaches.


Until the NHL instituted the Entry Draft in 1967, the Maple Leafs relied heavily on the Jr. A. Marlboros to produce NHL players. Many players were part of Maple Leafs Stanley Cup winning teams. In total, 202 OHA Junior Marlboros went on to play in the National Hockey League.

Award winners

Hockey Hall of Famers

Six players who played for the Marlboros and Maple Leafs have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. They are George Armstrong, Charlie Conacher, Red Horner, Harvey Jackson, Joe Primeau and Bob Pulford. Former Marlboros Brad Park and Mark Howe were also inducted into the Hall of Fame as NHL defenceman, and Carl Voss was inducted as a builder.

NHL alumni

Other alumni

Yearly results

Regular season

Standings prior to 1937 currently unavailable.
SeasonGamesWonLostTiedPointsPct %Goals
1937–38121200241.00080271st, OHA
1938–391449190.30833533rd, Group 1
1939–40191153250.688106492nd, OHA
1940–41171331250.813113511st, OHA
1941–422412102260.54573794th, OHA
1942–43218121170.4001051196th, OHA
1943–44268151180.320731224th, Group 1
1944–4520218040.100521416th, OHA
1945–462811161230.407781115th, OHA
1946–473620160400.55687845th, OHA
1947–483212200300.375971497th, OHA
1948–494820244440.4581681766th, OHA
1949–50483792760.7922531191st, OHA
1950–515432166700.6482201672nd, OHA
1951–52533986840.7923021461st, OHA
1952–535632177710.6341991392nd, OHA
1953–545934187750.6362421602nd, OHA
1954–554929173610.6221891423rd, OHA
1955–564823214500.5211741644th, OHA
1956–575235143730.7021891332nd, OHA
1957–5852212110520.5002101864th, OHA
1958–595419278460.4261602136th, OHA
1959–604828173590.6152221801st, OHA
1960–61489309270.2811362117th, OHA
1961–62331896440.6361411032nd, Metro Jr
1962–634022126500.6252171592nd, Metro Jr
1963–64564097870.7773361951st, OHA
1964–655632177710.6342592222nd, OHA
1965–6648201810500.5212032116th, OHA
1966–6748231510560.5832081843rd, OHA
1967–685431176680.6302731795th, OHA
1968–695421276480.4442222396th, OHA
1969–7054261711630.5832392014th, OHA
1970–716228268640.5163533045th, OHA
1971–726345153930.7383632561st, OHA
1972–736347791030.8174161991st, OHA
1973–747030319690.4932932768th, OHA
1974–7570481391050.7504693031st, OMJHL
1975–7666263010620.4702782943rd, Emms
1976–7766312312740.5613352863rd, Emms
1977–786824368560.4122633415th, Emms
1978–796827401550.4043083515th, Emms
1979–806833323690.5073423102nd, Emms
1980–816831370620.4562983364th, Emms
1981–826837310740.5443162904th, Leyden
1982–837036295770.5503253114th, Leyden
1983–847045241910.6503923172nd, Leyden
1984–856635283730.5533153023rd, Leyden
1985–866622413470.3562973456th, Leyden
1986–876622413470.3562983767th, Leyden
1987–886626391530.4022923486th, Leyden
1988–896632313670.5083193323rd, Leyden


Complete records prior to 1960 are unavailable.

  • 1960–61 Out of playoffs.
  • 1961–62 Defeated Brampton 7Ups 8 points to 2 in Metro League semi-finals.
    Lost to St. Michael's Majors 8 points to 6 in Metro League finals.
  • 1962–63 Defeated Whitby Dunlops 8 points to 2 in Metro League semi-finals.
    Lost to Neil McNeil Maroons 8 points to 4 in Metro League finals.
  • 1963–64 Defeated Niagara Falls Flyers 8 points to 0 in quarter-finals.
    Received bye through semi-finals.
    Defeated Montreal Junior Canadiens 9 points to 1 in finals. - OHA Champions
    Defeated Edmonton Oil Kings in Memorial Cup finals. - Memorial Cup Champions
  • 1964–65 Defeated Montreal Junior Canadiens 9 points to 7 in quarter-finals.
    Defeated Peterborough Petes 9 points to 7 in semi-finals.
    Lost to Niagara Falls Flyers 8 points to 2 in finals.
  • 1965–66 Defeated Peterborough Petes 8 points to 4 in quarter-finals.
    Lost to Kitchener Rangers 9 points to 7 in semi-finals.
  • 1966–67 Defeated Montreal Junior Canadiens 8 points to 4 in quarter-finals.
    Defeated Kitchener Rangers 9 points to 5 in semi-finals.
    Defeated Hamilton Red Wings 8 points to 0 in finals. OHA Champions
    Defeated Thetford Mines Canadiens 3-games-to-1 in Richardson Cup Final
    Defeated Port Arthur Marrs 4-games-to-1 in Memorial Cup final. - Memorial Cup Champions
  • 1967–68 Lost to Kitchener Rangers 8 points to 2 in quarter-finals.
  • 1968–69 Lost to St. Catharines Black Hawks 8 points to 4 in quarter-finals.
  • 1969–70 Defeated Oshawa Generals 8 points to 0 in quarter-finals.
    Defeated London Knights 9 points to 3 in semi-finals.
    Lost to Montreal Junior Canadiens 8 points to 6 in finals.
  • 1970–71 Defeated Peterborough Petes 8 points to 0 in quarter-finals.
    Defeated Ottawa 67's 8 points to 0 in semi-finals.
    Lost to St. Catharines Black Hawks 8 points to 0 in finals.
  • 1971–72 Defeated Kitchener Rangers 8 points to 2 in quarter-finals.
    Lost to Peterborough Petes 8 points to 2 in semi-finals.
  • 1972–73 Defeated St. Catharines Black Hawks 8 points to 0 in quarter-finals.
    Defeated Ottawa 67's 8 points to 0 in semi-finals.
    Defeated Peterborough Petes 8 points to 6 in finals. - OHA Champions
    Finished Memorial Cup round-robin in first place based on goal differential.
    Defeated Quebec Remparts 9–1 in final game. - Memorial Cup Champions
  • 1973–74 Defeated London Knights 9 points to 1 in quarter-finals.
    Lost to St. Catharines Black Hawks 8 points to 0 in semi-finals.
  • 1974–75 Defeated Kingston Canadians 9 points to 7 in quarter-finals.
    Defeated Sudbury Wolves 9 points to 7 in semi-finals.
    Defeated Hamilton Fincups 8 points to 6 in finals. - OHA Champions
    Finish Memorial Cup round-robin in second place.
    Defeated Sherbrooke Castros 6–2 in semi-final game.
    Defeated New Westminster Bruins 10–4 in final game. - Memorial Cup Champions
  • 1975–76 Defeated London Knights 8 points to 2 in quarter-finals.
    Lost to Hamilton Fincups 9 points to 1 in semi-finals.
  • 1976–77 Lost to London Knights 4 games to 1 with 1 tie in quarter-finals.
  • 1977–78 Lost to Kitchener Rangers 6 points to 4 in first round.
  • 1978–79 Lost to Kitchener Rangers 6 points to 0 in first round.
  • 1979–80 Lost to Brantford Alexanders 4 games to 0 in quarter-finals.
  • 1980–81 Lost to Niagara Falls Flyers 3 games to 2 in division quarter-finals.
  • 1981–82 Defeated Cornwall Royals 6 points to 4 in first round.
    Lost to Ottawa 67's 8 points to 2 in quarter-finals.
  • 1982–83 Lost to Cornwall Royals 7 points to 1 in first round.
  • 1983–84 Earned first round bye. 2nd in Leyden division.
    Defeated Peterborough Petes 8 points to 2 in quarter-finals.
    Lost to Ottawa 67's 8 points to 0 in semi-finals.
  • 1984–85 Lost to Cornwall Royals 8 points to 2 in first round.
  • 1985–86 Lost to Peterborough Petes 8 points to 0 in first round.
  • 1986–87 Out of playoffs.
  • 1987–88 Lost to Peterborough Petes 4 games to 0 in first round.
  • 1988–89 Lost to Cornwall Royals 4 games to 2 in first round.

Uniforms and logos

In 1903 club secretary Fred Waghorne wrote to the Duke of Marlborough in England for permission to use the storied name and crest. In choosing its logo the club took the Marlborough family crown and added the initials A.C. for Athletic Club.

The Toronto Marlboros used the same colour scheme as the NHL Toronto Maple Leafs from 1927 when the two club came under common ownership. The Marlborough crown was originally displayed by itself on the jersey chest. It was not until the late 1950s that the crown was set against the present day Maple Leaf.


In the beginning both the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Marlboros practised and were headquartered out of the old Ravina Gardens in Toronto's west end. Home games were played downtown at the Arena Gardens.[1]

In 1931 Maple Leaf Gardens opened up for business and the Marlboros had a new home again.[1] In 1964 the Marlboros won the Memorial Cup on home ice, the same year the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup on home ice.

The Marlboros occasionally also played games in the 1970s at the North York Centennial Centre and the Markham Centennial Centre when Maple Leaf Gardens was unavailable, usually due to scheduling conflicts at MLG with both the Toronto Maple Leafs and also the Toronto Toros of the WHA. They also played part of their home schedule in the 1976–77 season in Brantford, Ontario out of the Brantford Civic Centre.

The Marlboros today

The Toronto Marlboros Hockey Club operates minor hockey teams in the city of Toronto, Ontario. This club operated independently to the former OHA Junior 'A' team. After the Junior 'A' team left for Hamilton, the then Maple Leafs owner Harold Ballard granted permission for the Minor Marlboros to retain the Marlborough name.[1][2] Three years later in the fall of 1992 the Marlboros combined their fabled crest with the current NHL Maple Leafs' uniform. The Minor Marlboros celebrated their 75th anniversary in 2005–06.

NHL alumni of the Minor Marlboros include, Sam Gagner, Ron Handy, Mike Hough, Peter Ing, Chris Kelly, Nathan LaFayette, Connor McDavid, Rick Nash, Mike Ricci, Jason Spezza, Brian Wilks, Wojtek Wolski and John Tavares.

When Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment decided to relocate their American Hockey League farm team, the St. John's Maple Leafs to Toronto, they renamed the team the Toronto Marlies after the junior Marlboros.


  1. "Marlies history". Toronto Marlies. Archived from the original on 2013-12-08. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
  2. "Marlies timeline". Toronto Marlies. Archived from the original on 2013-12-08. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
  3. Houston, William (1988-10-20). "Hamilton lawyer, realtor purchase OHL Marlboros". The Globe and Mail.
  4. Kalchman, Lois (1988-10-20). "Hamilton new home as Marlies are bought". Toronto Star.
  5. Hunter, Paul (1989-03-18). "Death of the Marlies: The cold, hard facts Rising costs and dwindling attendance have sunk once-proud Toronto Marlies, seven- time winners of Memorial Cup". Toronto Star.
  6. "Marlies fare well as end nears Club on a win streak before transformation to Dukes of Hamilton". The Globe and Mail. 1989-03-13.
  7. Proudfoot, Jim (1989-02-08). "Toronto should miss Marlies, but it won't". Toronto Star.
  8. "Hockey Hall of Fame - Time Capsule".
  9. Dryden, Ken (1983). The Game. Wiley. pp. 212. ISBN 978-0470835845.
  10. Sears, Thom (2012). Straight Shooter: The Brad Park Story. Wiley. pp. 18–29, 291, 308, 312. ISBN 978-1118329573.
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