Monday, October 3, 2011

Over the years, there have a been a few sweater numbers synonomous with certain players. Lets see, I'll give the number, you come up with the player....#4....#9.....#93.....#66.....#99. Easy right? Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe or Bobby Hull, Dougie Gilmour (for us Leafers), Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky.
Now try this one.......#1. Back in the day, you could have answered any one of Jacques Plante, Eddie Johnson, Roger Crozier, Glen Hall, Ed Giacomin, Turk Broda.....the list goes on. Some "back-in-the-day" goalies (mostly back-up goaltenders) would wear the number 30 or others. (Terry Sawchuk's first number with the Leafs was the unlikely #24.)Lately the number 1 hasn't held the significance that it once did, with today's goaltenders opting to take "non-traditional" numbers. Some goalies do still favour the number 1 (Luongo), but others take 29, 33, 34, 35 and so on. Today's posts, however, isn't to recognize the non-traditionalist that have tended goal for the Leafs (Palmateer and Potvin #29, Wayne Thomas and Doug Favell #33, James Reimer #34, Jonas Gustavson #50), but rather focusses on the history of the number 1.
My rule in discussing history of the Leafs is to focus only on the Leafs that I've seen play. That still takes us a very long way back, sadly.
The history of the Toronto Maple Leafs #1
In the dawn a future king was born. His name was Sir John Bower. Otherwise known as the China Wall. Despite many others using his sweater in times that he was incapacitated, others with the monickers of Gerry (future Lord of the Land) McNamara, Cesare Maniago (soon dispatched to the land of Minnesota), Sir Gerry of Cheevers (he, the founder of the painted mask from the land of Bruin). In the year of our Lord 1970, Sir John begat Bruce Gamble, who later begat Jacques Plante, who, in turn, begat Ed Johnson, who begat Dunc Wilson, who begat Gord Mcrae. Soon to follow in their footsteps were names both new and old to the Leaf nation villagers....Vincent Trembaly, Bunny Larocque, Jim Rutherford (he of the Carolina tribe), Rick St, Croix, Darren Puppa, Damian Rhodes.
One could see the vaunted number 1 losing its lustre and being tarnished....tarnished so greatly that the over-seer of the Land of Leaf decided to take it out of commission and polish it back to its former standard. The Over-seer held it out of use for over 10 years, when it was decided that, finally, a new standard-bearer had been found to carry the number 1 back to its treasured spot. Yes, verily, I bring to you....ANDREW RAYCROFT!......Okay, so the Over-seer was not very accurate in his forecast. Again, the number 1 has been placed into semi-retirement, awaiting the day that another goaltender can rip it from the Over-seer's grasp and lead the nation back to the glory days.
Here then, a quick thumbnail description of some of the more interesting number 1's.
JOHNNY BOWER Nicknamed "The China Wall" because nothing was allowed past him.....gained noteriety for two reasons his age, rumoured to be between 40 and 50 when he eventually retired and his toughness....would dive head-first into the skates and sticks of on-rushing skaters to poke-check the puck away....all done, of course, without a mask.....still an icon in Leaf Nation, is routinely called upon at the ACC to star in pre-game ceremonies (rapelling from the rafters with Canadian Soldiers was the greatest one I ever saw) and routinely given standing ovations from the Leafers old enough to remember....gained fame as well for his recording of that famous Christmas Classic, "Honky, the Christmas Goose", recorded with his son John Jr. and under the name of "Johnny Bower and the Rinky Dinks."
Jake the Snake, played only a few seasons with the Leafs after having been bought from the St. Louis his first year with the Leafs, Plante led the league in GAA with a stellar 1.86 average....during the 72-73 season, with his GAA growing to a 3.04 average, the Leafs unloaded Plante ontlo the Bruins for goaltender Ed Johnson and a draft pick that turned out to be Ian Turnbull
McRae is remembered, primarily, as Mike Palmateer's back-up....most games he played in while a Leaf was 20 during the 75-76 season....recorded one shut-out during his 5 season known for his nickname "Bird".
Known as Bunny....played 3 fairly uneventful seasons with the Leafs...traded from the hated Habs to the Leafs for defenceman Robert Picard....later traded from the Leafs to Philadelphia for goaltender Rick St. known for his wonderful mask
who is Bruce Dowie, I hear you say.....only played 2 games with the Leafs back in 83-84 season...back up to Mike Palmateer....the two of them had a connection....both were goaltenders for the Toronto Marlboroughs of the Ontario Hockey Association...
tied the record for franchise wins by a goaltender with Ed Balfour with 37 wins during 2006/2007 season....acquired from Boston for goaltender Tuuka Rask....put on waivers in 08 and signed as a free agent with Colorado.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Great Virtual Hockey League!

Hey All....Come join a fantastic virtual hockey league. Pick your players, free agents, make trades, play the games! But you won't beat this team...
Led by the fabulous Colby Adney and Malcolm Riina and the fantastic goaltending of Patrick Chancey, the Teemen will be victorious!
Visit the Teemen and their counterparts at

Monday, July 5, 2010

Leaf Number of the Day #10

The recent signing of Colby Armstrong, a winger cut in the truculent style that Brian Burke seems to enjoy, got me to thinking. Surely, if there is any hockey god out there, the kid has to, I repeat, HAS TO, wear good old number 10. The last guy named Armstrong who played for the Leafs turned out to be a fairly decent player. Here then, is a small Maple Leaf history of the number 10

George (The Chief) Armstrong

That's him, sharing a sip from the Cup with Andy Bathgate after the 1964 Stanley Cup final. George broke into the NHL with the Leafs in 1951 and stuck around until his retirement in 1971. He succeeded Teeder Kennedy as the Leafs captain and passed that honour onto Dave Keon to start the 1970 season. 4 Stanley Cup wins, (all as Captain), 7 All-Star elections, 1187 (!) games played and all as a Leaf. A Leaf from day one, he returned in the 1988-89 season to serve as Head Coach for 47 games. He never was a glorious goal-scorer (his best season was 23 goals) and he mellowed as he got older, but in his day he'd stick an elbow in someones ear as easy as Gordie Howe would. Born with Native heritage, the Irish-Algonquin wound down his career with the greatest exclamation mark a Leaf fan could ask for. An empty-net goal in the 1967 Stanley Cup final to ice the win and the Cup for the Leafs over the hated Montreal Canadiens.

George Ferguson

Ferguson was drafted 11th overall by the Leafs in 1972 and went on to play 6 seasons with the Buds. He was traded to Pittsburgh with Randy Carlyle for Dave Burrows. (Ouch). Went on to 4 consecutive 20+ goal seasons with the Penguins. He did centre Lanny McDonald and Errol Thompson for a while before Darryl Sittler was given the spot. He now coaches the Trenton Sting in his hometown of Trenton, ON.

John Anderson

Drafted 11th overall like his predecessor above, Anderson found the net a lot more often then Ferguson did with the Leafs scoring 189 goals in 8 seasons with the Buds. Traded to Quebec for Brad Maxwell (double ouch) his goal scoring started to dwindle, but he made the most of his time building and gaining an understanding of the game which eventually led to a Head Coaching job in the NHL with the Atlanta Thrashers. The other reason he is famous in Toronto is for his chain of hamburger restaurants...John Anderson Burgers might not be as big as Tim Hortons donuts, but they made a mean banquet burger.

Bill Berg

"I wouldn't know Bill Berg if I ran over him with a car." So said Pat Burns when hearing about the then new Maple Leaf. Berg would make his mark in this city over the next 4 years as a defensive specialist. Currently employed by the NHL network as an analyst and on the Fan 590, he also operates a water store in his hometown of Beamsville, ON

Other notable #10's

Syl Apps, Teeder Kennedy, Ron Francis, Alex Steen, Glenn Anderson and Garry Valk

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Just Some More Random Musings

This is what happens to your brain when your team is 29th. Your mind tends to wander to things inane.

What if--JFJ hadn't traded Tukka Rask for Andrew Raycroft? Then Boston would really suck!

What if--JFJ hadn't traded a first round choice for Vesa Toskala? Then the Leafs wouldn't have J.S. Gigiuere

What if--The Leafs hadn't signed Jason Blake. Then Leaf fans definition of lots of money for very few goals would still be Owen Nolan

What if--Kerry Fraser had the cojones to give Gretzky the penalty he deserved? Then the Habs would have been Cupless for 25 years!


Enough with the staged fights and the fights after a clean hit. Fights are important to hockey when they mean something. When you are trying to swing the momentum towards your team. When your star player gets hit in a dirty fashion, not just hit. Not when some sad sack on the opposing team has the gall to throw a bodycheck. Not when the heavyweights from each team are on the ice, neither having scored a goal in 60 games, decide to duke it out at centre ice. Those fights mean nothing and both figuratively and literally leave the league with a black eye.
Along with the stupid fights...

STOP BANGING YOUR STICKS ON THE BOARDS AFTER A FIGHT! It looks like a bunch of juveniles offering encouragement.
No waving to the crowd, no posturing for the TV cameras, no pretending of putting on championship belts. This is not basketball or football where posing and funny face-making have become just as important as the scoring of points. This is hockey. Respect the game and each other.


For newer Leaf fans, the following is the criteria you need to follow before choosing a team to cheer for during Leafless playoff years.
  1. Do not cheer for a team that has never won the Stanley Cup
  2. Do not cheer for a team that has gone longer than the Leafs without winning the Stanley Cup
  3. Do not cheer for a team that has gone as long as the Maple Leafs without winning the Stanley Cup
  4. Do not cheer for a team that has not won the Stanley Cup since the 70's
  5. Do not cheer for a team that is an intense rival of your Toronto Maple Leafs.
This formula eliminates the following teams and therefore Leaf fans shall not cheer for the following teams in this years playoffs

Buffalo Sabres, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, Los Angeles Kings, Ottawa Senators, Phoenix Coyotes and the Nashville Predators are all teams who have never won the Cup and fall under Category 1

Chicago Blackhawks have not won the Cup since 1961 and are representative of category 2

Los Angeles Kings entered the NHL in 68, the first year that the Leafs went on their Cupless streak and having never won a Cup also fall under category 3

Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers haven't won a Cup since the early to mid 70's. They fall under category 4

The hated Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators are just that. Hated. They easily qualify under category 5.

That leaves Detroit and Colorado in the West and New Jersey, Pittsburgh and the Rangers (if the Blueshirts make it) in the East. Choose wisely, fellow Leafers, choose wisely. Myself, I am pulling for a Detroit/New Jersey final with the Devils winning it for dear Pat Burns

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Captain's Log

O Captain my Captain! our fearful trip does start;
The ship has weather’d every season, playoffs apart;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of blue,
Where on the bench my Captain tries,
To bring the winning back to you.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the cheers;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the applause does near;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the fans a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the bench,
You’ll rise and lead us ahead.

My Captain does not answer, his face a steely mask;
My father does not feel my arm, he only sees his task;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with Stanley won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with gleeful tread,
Skate the ice where my Captain does,
A Cup at last for us.
With sincere apologies to Walt Whitman.

Captains for the Maple Leafs since the most famous year of all (1967 for those of you who haven't heard) have neither won the Cup, nor retired as Captain of the team. A rather sad state all things considered.

George Armstrong #10--The Chief...Captain from 57-69...Gave up the Captaincy to Davey Keon...7 time all-star...Leaf coach during the 88/89 season finishing 5th in the Norris division and out of the playoffs.

Dave Keon #14--Captain from 69-75...Keon bolted from the Leafs to join the WHA's Minnesota Fighting Saints...Ended up with Hartford Whalers and played for them when they were brought into the NHL...Best season was a 38 goal/76 point season in 70/71... Still has ill feelings toward the organization but did return for an appearance in 2007 when MLSE honoured the 1967 team...Received a long standing ovation from the crowd that night

Darryl Sittler #27--Captain from 75-79 and 80-82. Best season was in 77/78 when he scored 117 points, the second time he cracked the 100 point mark with the Leafs...Traded to Philadelphia in 82 for Rich Costello, a second round pick (Peter Ihnachuk) and Ken Strong because of the poor relationship between him and management (read Harold Ballard)...ironically, Ballard had turned down a 1980 offer of Rick McLeish and Andre Dupont for Sittler...Sittler now works as an ambassador for the Maple Leafs

Rick Vaive #22--Captain from 82-86...3 consecutive 50+ goal seasons with the Leafs from 81-84...Played one season with the WHA's Birmingham Bulls and then drafted into the NHL by the Vancouver Canucks...Traded to the Leafs with Bill Derlago for Tiger Williams and Jerry Butler...Traded to Chicago with Steve (Stumpy) Thomas and Big Daddy Bob McGill for Al Secord and Ed Olczyk before the 1987 season

Rob Ramage #8--Captain from 89-91...Arrived in Toronto from Calgary for a second round choice in 1989...Played with Vaive in Birmingham as part of the "Baby Bulls"...Leaf management managed to show their incredible ineptitude by accidentally allowing him to be picked off in the Minnesota North Stars expansion draft in 91...Recently in the news due to a DUI conviction

Wendel Clark #17--Captain from 91-94...Traded to Quebec
in 94 for Mats Sundin among others and rejoined the Leafs two years later in a trade with the Islanders...Best goal scoring season was 93/94 when he scored 46 goals despite playing only 64 games...Best fight season was, well, pick 'em...Left again for the Tampa Bay Lightning but ended with another small tour of duty with the Leafs in the 99/00 season.

Doug Gilmour #93--Captain from 94/97..,Acquired from Calgary along with ahhhh, you know that trade don't you?....Best Leaf season was 92/93 with 127 points...Victim of the most famous "non-call" in Stanley Cup Playoff history...Traded to New Jersey
in 1997 for Alyn McCauley, Steve Sullivan and Jason Smyth...Returned to the Leafs for a sixth round choice from the hated Montreal Canadiens at the 2003 trade deadline so Dougie could finish his career as a Toronto Maple Leaf...he did, however, his career ended much sooner than expected, breaking his leg on his second shift back....Now coaching his hometown Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL

Mats Sundin #13--Captain from 1997-2008...Consistently the Leafs leading scorer throughout his career...Came to the Leafs as a result of a draft day deal featuring Wendel Clark...First overall pick of the Nordiques in 1989...Leaf career leader in just about every offensive category...Became a free agent after refusing to waive his NTC and eventually signed with the Vancouver Canucks.

The next captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Let's look at the candidates presently with their odds of becoming the next captain of the Maple Leafs

  • Dion Phaneuf -- Showing great leadership traits 3-1
  • Luke Schenn -- Fan favourite, can grow into position 9-2
  • Phil Kessel -- Best player not always best captain 12-1
  • Tomas Kaberle -- If he's still here the next year or two 15-1
  • Nikolai Kulemin -- Is Toronto ready for a Russian captain? 20-1
  • Tyler Bozak --Young, good player, too many in front of him. 50-1
For whomever the honour falls to, that player has to realize that it is just that; an honour to be the captain of the team at the centre of the hockey universe. It may be the most sacred honour in all of hockey, if not all of sports. When you are captain of the Leafs you are put on a pedestal, you become an icon. Only precious few ever get the call. Even fewer can do it proud. So, Dion, Luke, Phil, Tomas, or whoever it may be, whenever you are called, do it well. A whole nation will be watching.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Your first look at the 2010/2011 Leafs

Hello Canada and hockey fans in the United States
and Newfoundland. Tonight we bring you your first glimpse of the 2010/2011 Toronto Maple Leafs.

Youthful!!! Exciting!!! Truculent!!! That's right. Y E T. As in...Not quite Yet. But soon, Ladies and Gentlemen and Children of all ages. Very soon.

Mr. Burke has promised us that it is not a 5 year plan. He wants to be better sooner. Well, good luck to him and lets hope he doesn't stray from the path he's on as so many before him have done.

Let's take a look, shall we at our potential Leaf roster for 10/11

Nazem Kadri 20

Luca Caputi 21
Phil Kessel 23
Tyler Bozak 24

Nik Kulemin 24
Christian Hanson 24

Viktor Stalberg 24
John Mitchell 25
Mikahil Grabovski 26
Fredric Sjostrom 27

Colton Orr 28
Jamie Lundmark 29

Luke Schenn 21
Carl Gunnarsson 24
Dion Phaneuf 25

Mike Komisarek 28

Francois Beauchemin 30

Tomas Kaberle 32


J.S Giguere 33
Jonas Gustavsson 26

So that gives us only 3 players at 30 or over. Mr. Burke has certainly brought forth the youth for this team.

Waiting in the wings....
Gerry D'Amigo 19
Phillipe Paradis 19
Jesse Blacker 19
Kenny Ryan 19
Joel Champagne 20
Chris Didomenico 21
Jimmy Hayes 21
Dale Mitchell 21
Keith Aulie 21
Jurac Mikus 22
Tyler Ruegsegger 22

It's getting to be exciting to be a Leaf fan again. But please people, patience. Rome wasn't built in a day. Apparently building a Stanley Cup winner in this city takes even longer. Mr. Burke has a task ahead of him. It's gonna be fun!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Leaf Number of the Day...#3

Hello to all in Leafland. As of right now, Leafland i
s a fantastically fun place to be. The recent blockbusters have seemed to, at least temporarily, righted the Good Ship Maple Leaf as they set course for a proper rebuild of the greatest sports franchise in the known universe. A s a result of the shake-up, I have felt compelled to issue a new number of the day column.

So, kiddies, today's number is 3.
Of course, unless you've been living under Brian McCabe's overcoat, which he no longer needs as he is very comfortable losing in Florida you are aware that the latest Leafer to wear number 3 is Dion Phaneuf.

The number 3 in Leaf history is a lot like the number 8. Not too many incredible pieces of talent have worn it. That, my friends, is about to change.

This rock-em sock-em style of defenceman, has brought even more truculence to the Maple Leaf blueline and has propelled the d-corps of the buds to one of the best units in the NHL. Known more for his hard-hitting style, Phaneuf has been able to rack up some impressive point totals throughout his still young NHL career. 20 goal seasons and 60 point seasons have been reached and with the opportunity to man the point on the power-play for the Leafs, will more than likely soon be surpassed. A former Calder and Norris trophy finalist, he is sure to turn heads and climb back up to the stature of Norris trophy candidate now that he is in the centre of the hockey universe.

Other number 3's of distinction
  • Wade Belak--A fan favourite during his time here, the former first round pick of the Quebec Nordiques (12th overall), Wade was also known for his truculent behaviour. Playing both forward and defense positions, Wade loved to drop the gloves. Perhaps his most famous fight was on the ACC ice against Cam Janssen, then of the New Jersey Devils. In a game earlier in the season, Janssen had knocked Tomas Kaberle into Lala-land with a vicious head shot. No Leaf responded (I believe that Belak hadn't dressed for that game). Early in the next game between the two teams, Belak jumped on the ice when Janssen had just entered the game as well. Sitting in the greens, I could hear Belak call Janssen out. Standing at centre ice, a marathon brawl broke out between the two combatants. Belak outlasted Janssen for the victory, and all was well, once again.
  • Marcel Pronovost--Mostly remembered as a Detroit Red Wing defenceman, Pronovost came to Toronto, in the 65-66 season in a multi-player deal involving Andy Bathgate. He was a vital cog in the 1967 Stanley Cup victory. Retiring in 1970, he later coached the Buffalo Sabres for a season and a half, but fell victim to the housecleaning in Buffalo when his friend Punch Imlach was fired.
  • Bob Neely--Neely was another number 3 who played both forward and defense. Drafted 10th overall by the Leafs, Neely had also been drafted #1 in the WHA Amateur Draft by the Chicago Cougars. Neely played 4 1/2 seasons with the Buds, his best season coming in 76-77 when he potted 17 goals and added 16 assists.
Other number 3's--Al Arbour, Brad Selwood, Jim Benning, Sylvain Cote, Brad Marsh, Bob Manno and Bob Rouse.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Write a letter! Apparently, it works.

Here is an open letter to a certain Mr. Brian Burke that I posted on a Facebook group after the debacle on Saturday night. The group is TML Die Hards. A group where Leaf fans who have something positive to say about their team meet and exchange ideas, opinions, whatever is on their minds. I know the nay-sayers are probably thinking "positive Leaf ideas? Must be a small group." Harrumph, I say to you haters. Bandwagoners, don't bother trying to re-board. This Leafwagon is off-limits to you.

When I posted the letter, I, of course, had no idea what the next 24 hours would bring. Since my letter was obviously the fuel that drove the engine to get the trades done, I will be waiting for my referral cheque, Mr. Burke.

Here then, is the letter that made Mr. Burke do the deed.

Dear Mr. Burke:

I have been a Toronto Maple Leaf fan since I was 5 years old. I am now 52. For 47 years I have lived and died (mostly died) with the Leafs. I have watched players be run out of town, (Mahovlich, Walton, McDonald, Sittler, Murphy) I have watched high draft picks not reach anywhere near their potential (Ernie Moser, Jack Valiquette, Grant Marshall, Luca Cerada), countless times I have seen our first round picks traded away for some quick fix players like Owen Nolan, Tom Kurvers and have watched young talent be traded away for some fruitless playoff run.

I beseech you to build this team with young talent. I understand the Kessel trade, after all, he's only 22, but please, do like the others before you wouldn't do and get rid of the deadwood here. Get rid of the players like Mayers, Exelby (hell, they want out of here anyway). Move the likes of older players like Kaberle, Hagman. Trade away the underachievers like Ponikarovski, Toskala and Blake. If we are going to suck for a couple of years more, let's at least be exciting to watch. Reward the players for good play. Discipline them for bonehead mistakes. Make Toronto the place it once was. A place that free-agents wanted to play.

You have a fan base that is dying for a good product. You have, without a doubt, the most loyal fan base in all of sports. More loyal than Yankee fans, more loyal than Cowboy fans, even more loyal than Man U fans. And definitely more loyal than Hab fans. Reward those fans for their lifetime affection towards your hockey club.

Bring in the best coaching and scouting that money can buy. Show the fans that being a Leaf fan is once again a positive thing.

Mr. Burke, you could own this city just by developing a winner. You could be God-like if you ever developed a Stanley Cup Champ here. Just think how this city, your city, would react to a Maple Leaf Stanley Cup Championship. Just think. Then just do it.


So you get the idea.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Random Idlings

Just some random thoughts.....
  • Isn't it time the NHL took a page from the Canadian Hockey League and made their suspensions worthwhile?. I know that the juniors don't have a players association and that the NHLPA would no doubt fight tooth and nail if players were actually held accountable for their actions with SEVERE suspensions instead of the 3 gamers that Colin Campbell doles out, but come on. Wouldn't a 30 game suspension and no salary for those 30 games send more of a message then the proverbial wrist-slap and tongue-lashing?
  • A major penalty for high-sticking/boarding, etc results in the offending team being shorthanded for the full 5 minutes regardless of how many goals the opposition scores. Why not a 2 minute major for the less-serious high-sticking, head-shot and boarding calls. Keep the two-minute call for the accidental high-stick or "regular" boarding calls but like its 5 minute cousin, the player has to stay in the box for the full two minutes. I imagine the coaches would pretty soon wise up and keep repeat offenders on the straight and narrow.
  • Head shots continue to be a problem. Simple solution. Bring back the old equipment. Elbow pads and shoulder pads do not need hard plastic capping on them. They are weapons more than they are for protection now. Back in the day, if you launched an elbow into another players face the way they do now, you'd dislocate your elbow. Not pretty, but it sure stopped you from being reckless.
  • Jamal Mayers and Garnet Exelby want to be traded from the Leafs. What can you get for 2 guys who have spent more time in the press box and the penalty box than on the ice? Both have been healthy scratches more times than you can count and are on the team only because there is nowhere to put them. If they were sent down, they probably wouldn't clear waivers, but you won't get more than a 5th rounder for either of them. My advice? Get them out of town for anything imaginable before they infect the whole team. The Leafs need players who want to be here, who want to see the franchise succeed in terms of on-ice product. Get rid of the two for a bag of pucks, the rights to Bobby Orr, new padding for the players bench, anything.
  • Will Burke be going after any college players this year? Will he be signing the new Bozak and Hanson out of American College? One player to look at may be Bobby Butler out of University of New Hampshire. 33 points in 23 games so far this season. Undrafted and going on 23 years old, might be another good college signing.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

More memories... Does anyone out there remember...

Bernie Parent's mask being ripped off his head by Vic Hadfield during a bench-clearer in the 71 playoffs.

Forbes Kennedy losing it (and a whole bunch of fights) against the Boston Bruins in the 69 playoffs. The one where Quinn leveled Orr with the famous hit

Paul Harrison, Don Simmons, Rick St. Croix, Curt Ridley. Fred Boimistruck, Jim Benning, Dave Dunn

Shaky, Snowshoes, Suitcase, Swoop, Stash

The Hound Line

Pyramid Power

Winnipeg Jets

Mike Palmateer versus his drapes

The Bird, The Mouse, The Crow, Kitty and Dog

Coaches Brophy, Crozier, Nykoluk, Maloney, Watt, Carpenter and Armstrong

Ballard's Bunker

Mike Foligno's leap

Minnesota North Star logo

The L.A. Kings all-yellow uniforms

The J. P. Bickell Memorial Award

Ken Dryden's street-sweeper pose.


Brian Glennie's horsecollar

Got any of your own? Leave them in the comments section and I'll make sure to put them in the next post of Memories. The guideline is, of course, OLD SCHOOL!

Till next time. GO LEAFS GO...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

#31--Leaf Number OTD

Okay, kiddies, today's number is 31.

In honour of the one and only Curtis Joseph (pictured right, obviously), who is announcing his retirement on Tuesday January 12 at the ACC. Will there be a ceremony? Of course, there will be. There is a ceremony before every Leaf game it seems this year. But this one is warranted. Cujo won the hearts of every Leaf fan a few years after he almost broke their hearts as a member of the St. Louis Blues and taking the Blues to a 7th game in their playoff series against the beloved Leafs. Some say a shot off his mask, which actually removed his mask from his person, from Wendel Clark was the turning point in the series. I don't know. I just knew that he was a marvelous goalie. He spent some time in cold, cold Edmonton before smartening up and signing with the Leafs as a free-agent. Booed unmercifully in his first game back against the Oil, Cujo recorded a shutout. Of course he did. That was the way with Cujo. We could go on about his purported falling out with Coach Pat Quinn and his subsequent departure from the Leafs, searching in vain for a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings, but all the Leaf faithful had forgiven him by the time he returned to the Leafs for one last go-round in the big smoke. Happy Retirement Curtis. You're a part of my all-time Leaf team!

Allan Bester....Bester wore 31 while he toiled with the Buds. Bester spent parts of 8 seasons here in Toronto, appearing in 205 games and recording 7 shutouts. Defence wasn't part of the game back in the eighties. His best season was the 86/87 seasons where he contributed 2 shutouts and compiled a 3.65 gaa. He ended his career as a Solar Bear (???) in Orlando.

Grant Fuhr....The second best goaltender in Leafland to wear #31, Grant Fuhr only played two seasons with the Leafs and on February 3/1993 was moved to Buffalo for Dave Andreychuk, Darren Puppa and the Sabres first round pick. The Leafs had acquired him along with Glenn Anderson and Craig Berube for Vincent Damphousse, Peter Ing, Luke Richardson, Scott Thornton, future consderations and cash.

Other number 31's include...Don Beaupre, the aforementioned Peter Ing, Damien Rhodes, Al Smith, Marv Edwards and Gord McRae...quick question time...What was Gord McRae's nickname?....answer next post.........previous quick question answer....Rich Costello came to Toronto in the Darryl Sittler to Philadelphia trade. Wow.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Leaf Number Of The Day

Welcome to what hopes to be a regular feature at LFATWWTW. We're going to focus on certain sweater numbers and the history of said number through-out the history of the Leafs. Now, as they say on Sesame Street...

"Today's number i

Number 8 as in the black hole of talent for Leaf numbers. Pictured here is Ron Ellis. The greatest number 8 ever for the Leafs and he only wore it for a moment in time. Ellis, who also wore #11, was given the treasured #6 by Ace Bailey and wore it for just about all of his career. When Ronny retired, the number was re-retired. Ellis played all his career with the Leafs scoring 332 goals and adding 308 assists. He retired in 75 after a 32 goal season and returned to the Leafs lineup in 77-78 scoring 26.

Jim Dorey, another #8, played defence for a struggling Leaf team from 68/69 until the 71/72 season. His claim to fame, of course, was his debut game. Playing against the Pittsburgh Penguins he set a record, at that time, for incurring 48 penalty minutes in a game. He jumped to the New England Whalers of the WHA in 72/73 and returned to the big smoke in 74 and played two years for the Toronto Toros.

Jack Valiquette, played 3 years with the Leafs scoring only 33 goals in that span. A long cry from his 63 with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhound in his last year of junior.

Rob Ramage, captain of the Leafs from 89 to 91 managed to score 18 goals in those 2 years and racked up an astounding 375 penalty minutes. While playing with Colorado, Ramage helped Billy Smith become the first goalie to be recognized as a goal scorer. He was the culprit who shot the puck the length of the rink into his unguarded goal during a delayed penalty. Smith was the last Islander to touch the puck and therefore was credited with the goal. Ramage was recently sentenced to 4 years in prison after being found guilty of impaired driving causing death and dangerous driving causing death in the fatal traffic accident that took the life of his friend and former NHL player Keith Magnuson. His lawyer is appealing the conviction and Ramage remains free on bail.

Currently wearing #8 for your Toronto Maple Leafs--
Mike Komisarek--Big free-agent signing in the summer of 09, started off trying to do too much and ended up doing too little. When healthy, he should be a stabalizing factor on the Leaf defence for a few years to come.

Some more number eights.....Pierre Jarry, , Walt Podubny, Aki Berg, Brit Selby, Greg Hotham, Richard Mulhern and Rich Costello.....quick question...What is Rich Costello's Maple Leaf claim to fame? post.

Monday, December 28, 2009

My All-Time Leaf Team..(Okay, not All-time. Players I've Seen In My Life.)

So just so we're straight here. You're not going to find Ed Chadwick or Turk Broda on the list. You won't find Bill Barilko, Syl Apps or Teeder here either. Deserving as they may be, I am, although quite old, not that old, thank you very much. Instead you will find who I feel should be on the all-time Leaffans blogger (that's me) list.

This will be set-up like an actual team. 4 forward lines, 3 sets of defencemen, 2 goaltenders. Also a captain and 2 assistant captains.

Pre-requisites to being on this team are you must have played at least 3 seasons for the Buds and participated in at least one round of playoffs. Sorry Phil Kessel, Ian White and Vesa. Umm, actually Vesa, you had no chance anyway.

So without any further nonsense (I didn't know if the word was ado or adieu) here we go:

First Line:
Left Wing--#27Frank Mahovlich -- Without a doubt the best left winger ever on the Buds. The senator (the good kind) gets #27 because he wore it first

Centre--#9Darryl Sittler (C) -- Sitt gets the "C". First leaf in the 100 point bracket. #9 as a junior in London. Number in London retired. MLSE get the idea?

Right Wing--#8Lanny McDonald -- Lovable Lanny. Loved by everyone except Punch. The mustachioed marksman will always be a fan fave. Wearing number 8 because someone on defence has the rights to number 7 and Lanny wore number eight in Junior. He allowed Darryl to wear his Calgary number for this team.

Second Line
Left Wing--#17 Wendel Clark -- He of the big shot, big check, big mullet. Could he shoot? Just ask Cujo. Could he hit? Just ask Bruce Bell. Could he brush the mullet? Only his hairdresser knows for sure

Centre --#14 Davey Keon (A) -- The greatest skater the Leafs have ever employed. Straight stick, great shot, both wrister and back-hand. Power play, penalty kill, and never more than 12 minutes in penalties in a season while with the Leafs. But still, a very tough individual.

Right Wing--#6 Ron Ellis--Ronny could fly. 11 of his first 12 seasons with the Leafs he scored 20 or more goals and the season he missed 20 he potted 19. His whole career was spent with the Blue and White and retired when he was forced out by Punch. (What is it with Punch and right-wingers?)

Third Line
Left Wing--#25 Dave Andreychuk--Given his Sabre number of 25 because 14 is spoken for, Dave is a natural on this line with Gilmour. A true rugged veteran, Andreychuk parked himself in front of the opposition's net and battled. His best season was in 93/94 when he broke the 50 goal plateau

Centre--#93 Doug Gilmour (A) -- Killer joins a long list of terrific centremen and captains on this forever team. Acquired from the Flames in a lop-sided deal, Gilmour became the heart and soul of the Leafs in the early nineties

Right Wing--#22 Rick Vaive -- Another former captain on this team, came to the Leafs from the Canucks in the 79/80 season when the Punch cleanout was in full swing. 3 successive seasons of over 50 goals gets him the nod here.

Fourth Line
Left Wing--#22 Dave Tiger Williams -- I know Vaive is wearing 22 also, but it was going to come to blows, so I will let them duke it out later for the number. Tiger, all-time greatest fighter/scorer the Leafs ever had was traded along with Jerry Butler for Vaive and Billy Derlago.

Centre--#13 Mats Sundin -- Take all the centres on this team, throw their names in a hat and any of them could be the number 1 centre. Mats was an exceptional player for the Leafs playing 13 seasons before opting for free agency. Water under the bridge, Leaf fans, water under the bridge.

Right Wing--#10 George Armstrong -- Yet another former captain, Army played 20 seasons with the buds and won 4 Stanley Cups with them and was a 7 time all-star.

First Defense Pairing
Left Defence--#21 Borje Salming -- Best d-man the Leafs have ever had. Bar none. Great playmaker, great shot, great shot-blocker. Now he designs underwear in Sweden.

Right Defence--#7 Tim Horton -- Strongest player I have ever seen play the game. Great puck carrier, great defender, great haircut, GREAT coffee. RIP Tim.

Second Defense Pairing
Left Defence--#4 Red Kelly -- I know, I know, he was a centreman with the Leafs, but I couldn't fit him in there. And he was a d-man with the Red Wings before he was traded to the Leafs, so he's going back there for this team.

Right Defence--#21 Bobby Baun -- Anyone who scores a goal in overtime on a broken leg has to be on this team. As for his number, let him and Borje share it.

Third Defence Pairing
Left Defence--#2 Ian Turnbull -- 9 seasons with the Leafs, including two 20 goal seasons. A great puck-rushing defenceman who was a bit of a free-spirit. I'll never forget watching him pot 5 against the Detroit Red Wings. Great trivia question...who was in net that night for Detroit? Answer...Jim Rutherford and Ed Giacomin.

Right Defence--#15 Tomas Kaberle -- A close second to BJ Salming when it comes to puck carrying and vision on the ice for play-making. Not as strong defensively as Salming, but makes up for it with his ability to headman the puck

Starter--#1 Johnny Bower -- The China Wall. Toughest choices on this team were the goaltenders. Leafs have had a number of very good ones, but I have to go with the flagship of the franchise here. The recording star, "Honky, Honky the Christmas Goose", which may have a completely different connotation in today's market, was always my favorite as a young boy growing up

Back-up --#31 Curtis Joseph -- Cujo, on the strength of wins alone, gets on this team. One of the best at providing the save when you needed it (Vesa, please take note), Joseph was stellar in his first go-round with the Leafs

3rd goalie -- #29 Mike Palmateer -- I know I originally called for 2 goalies but,The Popcorn Kid is on this team just because I like him. He didn't have the greatest stats, but he would make some incredible saves. Probably the most "fun to watch" goalie in Leaf history

Coach -- Pat Quinn
General Manager -- Jim Gregory. Definitely not Imlach or JFJ.

As always, this list is very subjective and you may have other players/ideas/thoughts. Share them if you like. Or don't. Just remember...

Go Leafs Go and cheer like no one is watching you.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Back In The Day...

Because I am old, the memory is failing. It's weird. I remember unusual things but forget things I should know. For example, for the life of me, I can never remember Ricard Wallin's first name. I had to look it up just now. But ask me who wore #11 for the Leafs in 71 and I know it was Guy Trottier. Some other memories are creeping up and therefore I ask, does anyone remember:

When hockey players had their sweater numbers on their skates?

When Paul Morris (the old announcer from the Gardens) would announce the goal/penalty, etc with just the last name of the players? Toronto Goal scored by Keon. Assist Baun and Horton.

When there was just one penalty box and the penalized players had to share it? It led to some interesting skirmishes in the box. And some poor old penalty timekeeper squeezed in between Fergie and Shack trying to break it up.

When the Leafs played Kladno of the Czech League? Tomas Kaberle's father played for the Czechs who beat the Leafs 8-5.

The Showdown Series...until Pal Hal refused to let Darryl Sittler compete in it with a Leaf sweater on.

When home games were Wednesday and Saturday night. CTV on Wednesday nights, Hockey Night in Canada on CBC on Saturdays.

Ward Cornell, Jack Dennett, Bob Goldham, Howie Meeker, and, of course, Foster and Bill Hewitt

Johnny Bower waving to the television camera whenever he skated out as one of the 3 Stars.

Eddie Shack's pirouette

Eddie Shack "fighting" all the St. Louis Blues. Actually skating away as fast as he could from all the Blues that were on the ice. Ending up on the bench and conducting the crowd with a "We Want Shack" cheer.

Tiger riding his stick.

Salming's horrifically cut face

Claire "the Milkman" Alexander

Brian "Spinner" Spencer

Bernie Parent leaving the Leafs for the Miami Screaming Eagles of the WHA

The CHUM witch? You'd probably have to be from Toronto in the 60's to remember her.

Tiger's "Done like dinner," quote.

Foster's "Henderson has scored for Canada" call.

Leaf fans booing the Superstar on the opposing team. Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, etc.

Table Hockey games with just the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leaf figures.

The Toros? The Ottawa Nationals? The Cleveland Barons? The Kansas City Scouts?

The Trans-Canada Line? Errol Thompson (PEI), Darryl Sittler (Ontario), Lanny McDonald (Alberta)

The HUE Line? Paul Henderson, Norm Ullman, Ron Ellis.

When hockey sweaters were referred to as just that, not jerseys.

When all the coaches wore fedoras.

When games were actually halted while goalies went for stitches.

January 18, 1964--Boston 11 Toronto 0....when the Bruins were the dregs of the league

When Saturday night games started at 8 o'clock

When Hockey Night in Canada came on at 8:30 p.m.

Trying to guess the score of the game as HNIC finally did come on at 8:30 p.m.

Lying in bed, listening to Foster call the Sunday night away game and dreaming that it could be you out on the ice.

Ahhh, memories.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Everybody's Doing It. Making A List and Perusing It

By the angle of the sun and a check of the calendar, I have discovered that we are at the end of another year and presumably the end of the first decade of the new millenium. Some people insist that the new decade doesn't start until the end of 2010, but, really, I don't care. What everyone is doing is making their "best of", "worst of", "top, bottom and somewhere in the middle" lists and Leaf fans are no different. Oh yes, we are called different by other team's fans...but then what do they know? They just want to be Leaf fans and haven't yet been allowed on the bandwagon. Here then is the "TOP TEN MAPLE LEAFS OF THE DECADE"
  • Number 10--Tie Domi. This isn't about talent, it's about notoriety. Tie was loved by all for a good part of the decade. He had a falling out with the infamous elbow, regained the love and then lost a lot of it again with his "Tiger-Woodsing" of Belinda. He recently was back in the spotlight and once again rekindled a little of the Leaffan euphoria with his showing in the CBC's figure-skating reality show, "Battle of the Blades." That's right, toughie Domi figure skating. In order to keep his "manly hockiness" he refused to wear figure skates. At least that's the reason we were given. Not that he wouldn't have been able to skate in figure skates.
  • Number 9--Nik Antropov. BOOOO!!!! OUCH! IR. BOOO!!! OUCH! IR BOO! OUCH IR. This seemed to be, no, make that this was the pattern that plagued Antropov throughout most of his Maple Leaf career. Booed for whatever reason, (and, frankly, I've never been able to figure out the reason) for most of his career with the Buds and the only applause he'd hear was when he was announced by Andy Frost as "not dressed for tonight's game", which happened a lot. I think Antro was treated unfairly by the fans in this city, who have a nasty habit of doing that to certain players. Larry Murphy, Bryan McCabe, Jason Blake. Nikky was a supreme forechecker, learned to play like a big boy late in his Leaf stint and one of the best shot-tippers you'll ever lay your eyes on. He's moved on to Atlanta, via the Rangers. Let's hope Kenny Ryan (the 2nd round choice the Leafs got for Antro) doesn't hear the booing that his predecessor received.
  • Number 8--Bryan McCabe. Speaking of booing, may I present #8 on our list. Quick now, what is your greatest memory of Caber? Great point shot? Power-play expert? Team Canada's #7 defenceman? Captain material? Nope, nope, nope and nope. The thing that is uppermost in everybody's brain is the "own goal" that McCabe scored in overtime against the Buffalo Sabres. 83 goals in 7 seasons and the only one that is remembered is the unfortunate one. Regardless, another player who was unmercifly and unfairly booed out of town.
  • Number 7--Eddie Belfour. Eddie the Eagle played only 3 seasons during the decade and amassed 17 shutouts....17 shutouts!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? And they were actually in his first two seasons. Holy Crap! And for those first two seasons somewhere around a 2.20 GAA and a .920 save percentage. Yet, in his third season, guess what happened. His gaa went up, his save percentage went down and the booing started. Sad. Nevertheless, Eddie has to be on our list. His stay was short and sweet, well, mostly sweet and he's now the goaltending coach for the Peoria Riverman and goalie consultant for the St. Louis Blues.
  • Number 6--Darcy Tucker. Ahhh, good old Darcy. The prototypical pest. If Darcy's on your team, you love him. If he's on the opposition, especially the dreaded Montreal Canadiens, you hate him. But not Leaf fans. Oh sure, they loved him for a number of years as a member of the Blue and White. Slowly, however, around the 7th or 8th year on the team, fans started commenting on his lack of value, his big contract, his no-movement clause, his membership in the Muskoka 5, his lack of intensity (?), his ability to crash into the boards right beside the player he was trying to hit and demanded that he be traded, moved, bought out, etc, etc, etc. Then, when he was bought out, and ultimately signed with the Colorado Avalanche, he was put back on his pedestal, remembered fondly by Leaf fans and actually honoured by the management of the Leafs when the Avalanche played a game at the ACC. Go figure. Darcy performed well during his tenure with the Leafs with seasons of 28, 24 and 21 goals highlighting his stay here as well as his truculent behaviour.
  • Number 5--Phil Kessel. As of this writing, young Phil has played just 22 games for the Leafs. I have no doubt that when next the decade's list is drafted, he will be higher up on the list. If he isn't, check out who the Bruins first pick in the 2010 draft was and compare the two, because if he isn't higher than 5th for next decade, Burkie got shafted. A major talent, so far, in the NHL, he has quickly become the go-to player the Leafs have needed for some time. He's battled and defeated testicular cancer, won the Masterton trophy (for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey), scored a hat-trick in the Young Guns All-Star game, he led the United States U18 Junior team to the Gold Medal in the U18 world tournament, and at 22 years old has become a leader on the Buds. And, so far, he hasn't been booed by Leaf fans. Boston fans, yes. But they all want to be Leaf fans, anyway.
  • Number 4--Tomas Kaberle. Drafted in the 8th round, 204th overall, in 1996. Now #2 in defenceman scoring, career-wise, with the Leafs, he has spent a grand total of 2 games in the minors. He graduated from the Czech League where he played for Kladno, in 1998 and fit in almost immediately in the NHL. Never a big goal scorer, he seems to frustrate the "experts" in the stands who constantly yell, "SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT" when he has the puck at the point, especially on the power play. His biggest asset, however, is his vision on the ice and his wonderful play-making ability. It's been a long time since the Leafs have had a puck-moving defenceman with his skills. Insert Borje Salming here. So, puck-moving, play-making, point-producing defencman and what did the fans want? Of course. They wanted him to waive his no-trade clause so the Leafs could move him. Wonders never cease. But, at least, they didn't boo him.
  • Number 3--Curtis Joseph. Cujo only played for three years of the decade with the Buds, but it was a stellar three years. Well, except for the last one maybe and the feeling he brought on Leaf fans when he left to "go win a cup" with Detroit. But, ummm....the Stanley Cup never materialized. The chants were loud in 2000 and 2001 when the Leafs were in the midst of playoff fever and the fans loved dear old Cujo. He returned for a very uneventful swansong in 08/09 and became only the second player in this list to leave the league as a Maple Leaf. Mr. Domi being the other.
  • Number 2--Gary Roberts. The very fit Mr. Roberts played 3 seasons and a bit with the Leafs and forever cemented his way into the Leaf's fans hearts by showing up to play every night and playing the same way every night. Like his life depended on it. And this is after coming back from an horrific neck injury. The former Masterton trophy winner never scored less than 21 goals for the Leafs when he played a complete season. Roberts left after the lockout with fellow Whitby alum, Joe Nieuwendyk (who could have made this list as well) for the warmer pastures of Florida and signed a contract with the Panthers. More because of his attitude, leadership and playing style is he put on this list and could just as easily been Number 1 on this list. Roberts retired as a player in 2009 but is still admired as a fitness consultant in the NHL.
  • Number 1--Mats Sundin. This obviously comes as no surprise. Captain Mats was the franchise through just about all of the decade, playing in all the seasons up to 2008/09. He of course played many years with the Leafs before the start of the decade and holds just about all the career scoring records for the team. He was both loved and hated by the fans (go figure) and when he refused to waive his no-trade clause in his contract he was called a traitor to the team by some of the fan base. Another captain in the long line of captains who didn't retire as captain of the Leafs (Armstrong, Keon, Sittler, Ramage, Vaive, Clark, Gilmour), he chose to test the free-agent market after spending a summer and half a season contemplating retirement. He re-surfaced with the Vancouver Canucks and played his last (we think) NHL season there. In a strange spectacle he was both booed and cheered upon his return to the ACC with the Canucks. Whenever he touched the puck, he was booed. After a video tribute on the scoreboard, he was cheered wildly. After the tribute more booing whenever he had the audacity to make a play. However, as poetic license and the fates would have it, the game came down to a shoot-out. Naturally, it fell upon Mats to decide the game with his shot. Naturally, he scored to win the game for Vancouver. Naturally, the Leaf fans went wild and stood and cheered while Mats blew kisses to the crowd.

Honourable mentions

  • Joe Nieuwendyk
  • Alexander Mogilny
  • Alexei Ponikarovsky
  • Matt Stajan

This list is obviously very subjective. It is my opinion and I don't really care if anyone or everyone agrees with it. It is here only for your enjoyment in reading it and mine in writing it. If you don't agree with what I've listed, write your own damn blog.
As always, keep the home fires burning, the home fries hot, and be a Leaf fan until Niagara falls.

Next time: