Darryl Sittler
Position Centre
Shot Left
6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
190 lb (86 kg)
Teams Toronto Maple Leafs
Philadelphia Flyers
Detroit Red Wings
Born (1950-09-18)September 18, 1950,
Kitchener, ON, CAN
NHL Draft 8th overall, 1970
Toronto Maple Leafs
Pro Career 1970 – 1985
Hall of Fame, 1989

Darryl Sittler (b. September 18th 1950 in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada) is a former professional centre who played in the National Hockey League chiefly for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but also for the Philadelphia Flyers and the Detroit Red Wings.

A junior "B" player with the Elmira Sugar Kings, Sittler was drafted to the OHA by the London Nationals (who became the next season the London Knights), where he played under former NHL stars Turk Broda and Bep Guidolin. In 1970, Sittler was picked eighth overall by the Maple Leafs in the 1970 NHL Amateur Draft. In 1975, he became Leafs' captain after Leafs management asked Dave Keon, then 35 years old, to pass the role on.

During his first season as a captain, Sittler scored 41 goals and 59 assists, en route to his first 100 points campaign. It was also the first time in the history of the Maple Leafs that a player scored 100 points in a season. It is during that season, on February 7th 1976, that Sittler established the NHL record for the most points in a match, with ten (6 goals 4 assists) in a win over the Boston Bruins. During the 1976 Stanley Cup playoffs, he scored five goals in a match against the Philadelphia Flyers, tying the record for the most game in a single playoffs game. On that summer, he helped the Canadian National Team beat the Czechoslovaks in the inaugural Canada Cup by scoring the overtime winning goal of the tournament.

In 1977-78, strong of a 117 points season, Sittler finished third in the NHL in scoring (behind Guy Lafleur and Bryan Trottier) and was named to the Second All-Star team. In the playoffs, his Leafs upset the New York Islanders in the quarter-finals before falling to the Montreal Canadiens in the Confwerence finals.

Troubled times[edit | edit source]

Starting in 1978, Sittler's relationships with the Maple Leafs organization, especially with owner Harold Ballard began to deteriorate. Slowly at first, things accelerated when Ballard hired Punch Imlach as general manager in July 1979. The thing was that Ballard and Imlach had strained relations with NHLPA executive Alan Eagleson, who happened to be the player agent of over a dozen Maple Leafs players, including Darryl Sittler and his best friend and linemate, Lanny McDonald. With Imlach believing that Sittler had too much influence on the team, much was done to try to undermine that authority the Leafs captain had on his teammates. He went as far as going to court to try to get an injunction preventing Sittler and Mike Palmateer from appearing on the TV Show Showdown, an appearance that had been negociated by the NHLPA. Imlach later openly declared he was willing to listen to offers for Sittler from other teams; problem was, Sittler had a no-trade clause in his contract. His agent, Eagleson, said it would cost the Leafs $500,000 to break that clause. That sum being too much for them, Imlach, rather than trade Sittler away, decided to trade his best friend McDonald, to one of the worst team of the league on top of that, the Colorado Rockies, on December 29th 1979. Sittler responded to that by ripping the captain's "C" off his sweater. Ballard likened the act to burning the Canadian flag.

Through the 1980 summer, Ballard insisted that Sittler wouldn't be back with the Leafs. However, before the start of the 1980-81 season, both Ballard and Sittler appeared together at a news conference, both smiling and seemingly bond by friendship, to announce that Darryl Sittler would indeed be back at the training camp - Sittler even showed up with the C on his sweater. He had arranged talks with Ballards on his own, while Imlach was hospitalized after suffering a second heart attack. Ballard, at said conference, mentioned that the real battle was between Imlach and Eagleson, and that Sittler had just been unfortunate enough to be caught in the crossfire.

The next season, Ballard deemed Imlach's health to be too poor to assume his functions in the organization; Gerry McNamara took his place. But Sittler's relationship with the Leafs organization by no means got better, even with Imlach gone. Eventually, it came to the point where Sittler told Ballard he was willing to waive his no-trade clause if he was to be traded to either the Philadelphia Flyers or the Minnesota North Stars. In the first week of December, Eagleson had agreed to terms with both the Flyers' owner Ed Snider and the North Stars' Lou Nanne. But despite that, it took another seven weeks before any move would be done; meanwhile, Sittler had added the Buffalo Sabres and the New York Islanders to the list of teams he was willing to be dealt to. Further pressure on the Leafs' management came on January 5th 1982 when, on advice from his physician, Sittler walked out of the Leafs, saying he was "mentally depressed" by the interminable amount of time it took for a trade to occur. Fifteen days later, Darryl was traded to the Flyers for Rich Costello, the Hartford Whalers' second round draft pick in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft (who turned out to be Peter Ihnačák) and future considerations, who turned out to be Ken Strong. It turned out to be a pretty small return for the Leafs, as only Peter Ihnačák played regularly with the team. Ironically, Imlach himself had turned down a Flyers offer in 1980, who were said to be giving no less than Rick MacLeish and André Dupont for Sittler's services.

Post-Leafs era[edit | edit source]

In his first season in Philadelphia, Sittler took part to the NHL All-Star game for a fourth time. After two seasons spent with the Flyers, Sittler was told he was to be named Flyers' captain. On the day of the announcement, instead of giving him the team's captainship, newly appointed GM Bobby Clarke told Sittler he had been traded to the Detroit Red Wings for Murray Craven and Joe Paterson. Sittler would later describe this incident as the biggest disappointement of his life. He considered retiring and refused to report to the Wings for a few days. He however decided to join the team, a decision that proved bad for him, as Wings' head coach Nick Polano wasn't very eager to give him playing time - Sittler had a quite unproductive season, which saw him achieve the worst goals-per-game average of his whole career. Detroit bought out his contract at the end of the season, and he refused a one-year offer from the Vancouver Canucks, preferring retirement.

Non-playing days[edit | edit source]

Sittler was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1989. In 1991, the Leafs' new GM, Cliff Fletcher, offered him a role with the team as consultant, a role he accepted. That happened one year after Ballard's death.

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