Querrie lost a lawsuit to Livingstone and decided to put the St. Pats up for sale. He gave serious consideration to a $200,000 bid from a Philadelphia group. However, Toronto Varsity Graduates coach Conn Smythe put together an ownership group of his own and made a $160,000 offer for the franchise. With the support of St. Pats shareholder J. P. Bickell, Smythe persuaded Querrie to reject the Philadelphia bid, arguing that civic pride was more important than money.

After taking control on Valentine’s Day 1927 Smythe immediately renamed the team the Maple Leafs. The Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team had won the International League championship a few months earlier and had been using that name for 30 years. There have been numerous reasons cited for Smythe’s decision to rename the team. The Maple Leafs say that the name was chosen in honor of the Maple Leaf Regiment from World War I. Another story says that Smythe named the team after a team he’d once scouted, called the East Toronto Maple Leafs.