If Toronto Maple Leaf’s owner Harold Ballard were around in today’s world, he would absolutely be the #1 most hated man in sports. And certainly would be Cancel Culture’s #1 target.
Ballard was often accused of being a racist, a misogynist, hating his players, hating his fans, as well as being notoriously cheap.
But after researching our top 10 list, I’m still unsure of which Harold Ballard was worse.
Top 10 Reasons Why Toronto Maple Leafs Harold Ballard Was The NHL’s Worst Owner
#10 Harold Ballard Was Convicted for Tax Evasion
In 1973, just one year after seizing sole control of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Maple Leaf garden, a Canadian court had found Ballard guilty of tax evasion.
Ballard was found guilty on 47 of the 49 charges and sentenced to three consecutive three-year terms.
Despite receiving a 9-year prison sentence, Ballard was released after spending just one year in jail.
When released, Harold Ballard cheerfully described his living conditions at the Millhaven Penitentiary as a “country club, with steak dinners and color TVs available to all inmates.”
Ballard’s ignorant comments angered Canadians and sparked a furious debate in Parliament.
#9 Maple Leaf Gardens Fell Into Disrepair
After Harold Ballard’s reign of terror ended with his death in 1990.
The Maple Leaf Gardens’ dilapidated edifice became a symbol for what had transpired under his ownership.
One example of Ballard’s tenure as owner was when the Garden’s roof started leaking.
Ballard saw no need to repair it. Instead, he ordered the Garden’s maintenance crew to hang plastic sheets to catch the rainwater.
To literally mark the arena as his own, Ballard made imprints of his hands and feet in concrete with brass lettering beneath center ice.
He could have cared less that the imprints impacted the quality of the ice above.
#8 Disparaged Hockey Legend Gordie Howe
On the night “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe scored his 1,000th career goal while playing for the WHA’s Houston Aeros.
Ballard’s hatred of the WHA was so unhinged, he ordered that the Maple Leafs Gardens scoreboard not flash the news.
After the game, when the media asked why he would disparage Howe like that?
Harold Ballard responded: “Why? Because that’s not an accomplishment worthy of recognition…A blind man can score goals in that league.”
#7 Ballard Hated The WHA…Until It Came To Money.
By 1974, the World Hockey Association (WHA) had literally moved into Ballard’s backyard.
The Toronto Toros, owned and operated by Ballard’s former partner, John Bassett, who was now competing with the Leafs for Toronto fan’s loyalty.
Despite the competition, and Ballard’s hatred of the Toros he gladly accepted their rent money when they negotiated to make Maple Leaf Gardens their home arena.
Not only did Ballard raised the arena lease to the astronomical sum of $15,000 per game for the Toros.
When the Toros opening night arrived Harold Ballard had the rinks lights dimmed.
After the Toros complained about the lack of lighting.
Ballard offered to turn all the lights on for an additional fee of $3,500 per game, for which the Toros reluctantly paid Ballard’s ransom demands.
#6 Ballard Refused to Display Player Names on Jerseys
When the NHL ordered that all teams display the names of the players on the back of their Jersey, Harold Ballard became incensed.
Ballard reasoning was if the Fans could see the players’ names, then there would be no reason to buy the game program that showed which player was wearing which uniform number.
But when the NHL ordered Ballard to imprint the player’s names on their jerseys.
Ballard complied by printing the names of the players in blue on the Leafs blue away jerseys, and in white on Toronto’s white home jerseys.
#5 Turned Off Maple Leaf Gardens AC To Sell More Drinks
On a sweltering summer day in 1965, Ballard delayed the Beatles concert by an hour.
No, he didn’t delay the Beatles performance to allow the standing-room crowd ample time to reach their seats.
Nope, instead, the reason was Ballard needed time for the Garden to heat up.
After Ballard turned off the Maple Leaf Garden’s AC and ordered the water fountains turned off.
Harold Ballard then jacked up the prices on all the drinks sold at the concession stands.
#4 Ballard Ordered Toronto Maple Leafs GM to Trade One Player Because He Was Another Player’s Best Friend.
Harold Ballard didn’t hide his hatred for the Leafs beloved captain Darryl Sittler.
Ballard who went so far as to call Sittler “a cancer,” attempted to trade him but after discovering Sittler had a no-trade clause in his contract.
Ballard did the next best thing (in his demented mind), he traded away Sittler’s best friend, Lanny McDonald.
#3 Ballard Asks Head Coach to Wear Paper Bag Over His Head.
With only a few games left in the 1977-78 season, the Leafs shortsighted owner fired head coach, Roger Neilson, on television.
But Ballard was forced to hire Neilson back a few days later after the players protested, and after realizing he had no replacement coach lined up for a game two nights later.
After begging Neilson to return, Ballard had the audacity to ask him to wear a paper bag over his head behind the bench.
Neilson agreed to return, but of course, refused to wear the paper bag.
#2 Ballard Sells Toronto Maple Leafs Stanley Cup Banners
Jealous that the Maple Leaf Garden was nicknamed ‘The House That Conn Smythe Built’ for Smyth’s success as the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1927 to 1961.
Combined with his inability to bring a Stanley Cup to Toronto under his sole ownership.
Ballard sold all 7 Stanly Cup Banners won during the Conn Smyth era, that had hung from the Maple Leafs Gardens rafters.
#1 Harold Ballard Was The Very Definition Of Mysoginist
Ballard for years ignored an NHL rule regarding equal access to the lockerroom by barring women reporters from entering the Leafs lockerroom.
In a candid moment, while speaking to a female journalist Barbara Frum, Ballard quipped: “Women are good for only one thing – lying on their backs.”
Watch Harold Ballard In All His Mysoginist Glory
This clip wasn’t aired, for obvious reasons.
Just to prove how utterly clueless Harold Ballard was. In the clip below, the callous Leafs owner was responding to a female reporter.