Canada has a rich sports history, and Toronto is home to many great sports teams.
Admittedly, being a fan of any Toronto sports team has been rough lately. Yet, despite any setbacks, each team’s loyal fanbase always cheers them on at Scotiabank Arena, Rogers Centre or BMO Field.
This is a brief guide to familiarize you with every major Toronto sports team, and to help you become a better fan.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs are the city’s most popular sports team, with a rich history dating back to 1917. Despite winning 13 Stanley Cup championships, they haven’t won since 1967, making their 56-year drought the longest in NHL history.
The Leafs’ consistent failure binds Toronto together, but their rare successes are memorable. In May, the Leafs won their first playoff series since 2004, and captain — and Mississauga native — John Tavares’ overtime goal was a memorable moment for fans.
The Leafs have a talented team, including world-class players Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. Ilya Samsonov is a potential solution to their goalie problem, and the Leafs have a promising young player in Matthew Knies. Yet, the Leafs’ future is uncertain with the arrival of a new general manager, Brad Treliving and potential player changes. Still, now that their “curse” is lifted, the team’s potential is limitless.
**Toronto Raptors **
Founded in 1995, the Raptors are currently the only Canadian team in the NBA. Despite a rocky start, the team thrived with the arrival of Vince Carter and his impressive dunks in 1998 — many fans still wear retro jerseys with his name on the back.
How did a middling team become so successful? Players DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry made the Raptors a formidable and respectable opponent in the NBA for years. Yet, only after trading DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard did the Raptors win their first and only NBA championship in 2019.
Now, the Raptors are led by Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam and have a promising younger core with Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr, and 2023 draft pick Gradey Dick. The team is clearly not as strong as other teams in the league — so they’re really at a crossroads here. They could rebuild around their young core or trust in the team's potential with new head coach Darko Rajakovic. It’s hard to predict where they’ll be next season.
**Toronto Blue Jays **
Similar to the Raptors, the Jays are currently the only Canadian team in the MLB. Founded in 1977, the team won back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993. Watching the Jays at Rogers Centre with the roof down, the CN Tower in the background, and a hot dog in hand is a great summer activity.
It helps that the team is also outstanding. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the obvious standout name, having finished as a runner-up for the American League (AL) MVP award in 2021. Bo Bichette is another great player and has been the Jays’ best player so far this season.
Kevin Gausman is a top pitcher for the Jays with 139 strikeouts this season — the second-most in the league. Surprisingly, Alek Manoah, last year’s All-Star and a finalist for the AL’s Cy Young award, is struggling, having allowed the most walks — a play where the batter automatically advances to first base after the pitcher threw four pitches out of the strike zone — of any pitcher in the MLB this season. Regression from the high bar he set last year would have been expected, but this much of a decline is surprising. Finally, in the bullpen, last season’s All-Star, Markham native Jordan Romano, is a top-notch closer who always gets fans cheering with his fiery game introduction.
This team has faced some issues, but they’re good — they could be in for a deep playoff run.
**Toronto FC **
Toronto FC (TFC) was created in 2006 and won the MLS Cup for the first time in 2017. Yet, TFC has won three out of 20 games this season and sits near the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
In early 2022, TFC surprised many by signing Italian players Lorenzo Insigne and Fernando Bernardeschi, players who both achieved great success in the Italian Serie A. In fact, both players had just become Euro 2021 champions with the Italian national team!
Nevertheless, even with the two Italians, this team isn’t good. Canadians Jonathan Osorio, Richie Laryea, and Mark-Anthony Kaye are solid players. Yet team captain Michael Bradley is inconsistent, and as he is aging, he may become more injury-prone. Additionally, having his father, Bob Bradley, as the head coach reportedly caused tension and mistrust within the team. However, due to the team’s poor performance, Bob was fired on June 26 — a new head coach may reinvigorate the team. Plus, Bernardeschi and Insigne are not living up to their high salaries. They’ve severely underperformed, and they reportedly don’t even get along.
For a team that has the highest salary sheet in the MLS, TFC shouldn’t be this bad. They’re marred with problems, and right now, it seems like they just keep going down.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Toronto Argonauts, the city’s football team, are the reigning Grey Cup Champions, and the Toronto Six, the city’s women’s hockey team, are the holders of the Isobel Cup. Elsewhere, in May, the WNBA hosted its first-ever game in Canada, selling out Scotiabank Arena. Toronto basketball fans have made it clear that they want a WNBA team in the city, and it seems inevitable that a team will be established in the city by 2025, at the latest. Evidently, women’s sports are on the rise in Toronto.
Overall, Toronto has multiple historic sports franchises with talented athletes and dedicated fans. So, while TFC, the Raptors, the Jays, or the Leafs can always provide tinges of disappointment, there are also always moments of glory and jubilation in the city. The chance to witness a historic moment is unparalleled.