Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Leaf Captains: Two to be Honoured, One to Sign?

So the Leafs have announced they will be honouring Doug Gilmour and Wendel Clark this season.

As many of you likely know, the Toronto Maple Leafs only honour numbers - they don't retire them (the only two numbers the Leafs have retired are #5 for Bill Barilko and #6 for Ace Bailey).

It's official team policy to retire the jerseys of outstanding players who are struck by tragedy while members of the club (still to be determined: if management's abject failure to properly build a club around the talents of Mats Sundin qualifies as a tragedy).

Honouring v. retiring numbers aside, it's great to see that each player will have his own ceremony. It certainly irked me in the past when MLSE honored groups of players, instead of having the class to give each guy his due at centre ice.

Clark and Gilmour will join the ranks of other honoured Leafs:
1 Johnny Bower and Turk Broda
4 Red Kelly and Hap Day
7 King Clancy and Tim Horton
10 Syl Apps and George Armstrong
21 Borje Salming
27 Frank Mahovolich and Darryl Sittler

Once they're up in the rafters, I hope the Leafs exert some control over who gets to wear such meaningful numbers. Gilmour's 93 is such an odd number that's unlikely to be worn again, but it would be nice for the Leafs to reserve 17 for a franchise guy and to make sure it's never worn by the likes of Paul Higgins again.

The Rush for Mediocrity

Mats Sundin says he's about two weeks away from a decision as to whether he'll retire or sign back with an NHL club.

I'm a big fan of Mats and all that's he done as a Leaf and for the Leafs, but I'm way past caring what decision the Big Swede comes to.

If he decides to play elsewhere, the most painful part isn't going to be Mats' return to the ACC, the potential points he might rack up against the Leafs, or even the bizarro world image of him in a Devils or Wild jersey.

I somehow managed to live through Palmateer as a Capital, Sittler as a Flyer, Vaive as Black Hawk, Wendel as a Nordique (and an Islander, Black Hawk, Red Wing and Lightning) and Dougie playing for what seemed like a third of the league (ok, it was just the Devils, Black Hawks, Sabres and Canadiens). Somehow, I think we'll be ok with Mats lacing 'em up for some other club.

Hands-down the worst part of Mats signing somewhere else is going to be the media sh*tstorm that follows it.

Stemming the tide of the craptacular media coverage will be like trying to stay dry while standing under Niagara Falls armed only a little umbrella from a girl-drink (like say a Chocolate-choo choo, you know it tastes just like candy).

And if the media coverage isn't bad enough, a close second on the continuum of bad outcomes is the possibility that Mats decides to come back and play for the Leafs.

This team desperately needs another top five draft choice and Mats' return is likely enough to move this team away from a shot at a lottery pick to another meaningless outside of the playoffs 11 - 14th selection in the first round.

If Mats signs with another team and the Leafs ice their current line-up, I foresee a nice high pick in next year's draft (hopefully to be joined by more prospects/picks acquired by dealing away Kubina and/or McCabe).

Another year of Mats would be nice but a shot at the Tavares/Hedman lottery would be even nicer.

I don't think the Leafs can have both.


  1. I've noticed that nobody has worn #17 since Clark, even during his time with the Nords or other teams. It's such a common number that it can't be an accident.

    I think the number is essentially defacto retired at this point, since I can't image anyone wanting to be the next to wear it and even the Leafs couldn't be so dumb as to assign it to some rookie or fourth-liner (i.e. our entire roster).

  2. Anonymous3:17 pm

    I just want to know whether I have to hate Mats or if I can freely revel in the Leafs' fall down the standings towards another franchise forward without having to worry about the Habs doing well.

  3. Anonymous12:07 am

    nice post

    the leafs have done a terrible job of protecting the honoured numbers - consider the following

    21 - Salming

    Aaron Broten (useful penalty killer)
    Jyrki Lumme (half as good as Salming maybe)
    Mariusz Czerkawski (more disappearing acts than Houdini)
    Adam Mair (guy we traded for Aki Berg)
    Sean McKenna
    Kirk Muller (didn't bring shame to 21 at least)
    Mark Osborne (one good season on GEM line)
    John Pohl (only in the league b/c of JFJ)
    Martin Prochazka (I hope Kulemin doesn't turn out like this guy)
    Robert Reichel (not to be mistaken with Renberg - I'm looking at you Ric "can't fill out a lineup card" Ley)
    Warren Rychel (pretty useless)

    # 27 Sittler and Mahovlich
    Shayne (i quit)Corson
    Lucien DeBlois (better name than player)
    Miroslav Ihnacak (Peter was ok, Miro gave us false hope)
    John Kordic (it was a decent trade considering the timing but he should have never got #27)
    Bryan Marchment (his knees were tougher than his fists)
    Mike Peca (we should have resigned him)
    Dave Semenko (without Gretzky this guy is a nobody)

    # 10 Apps and Armstrong

    Glenn Anderson (not the worst)
    John Anderson (see above)
    Bill Berg (better than Aki at defence and Bill was a forward)
    Vincent Damphousse (solid player for a few years)
    Ron Francis (probably worthy more so than the Andersons)
    Aaron Gavey (can't remember this guy)
    Zdenek Nedved (again I hope Kulemin doesn't turn out like this)
    Marian Stastny (the least useful Stastny)
    Alexander Steen (future captain? how far have we fallen?)
    Garry Valk (scored a big OT goal)

    #7 Clancy and Horton
    Kelly Fairchild
    Derek King
    Dave Mcllwain
    Sergio Momesso (only leaf i couldn't cheer for; I hated this guy)
    Jason Podollan (we really didn't benefit from trading Gilmour)
    Mike Ridley (underrated)
    Gary Roberts (worthy)
    David Sacco (supposed scorer)
    Greg Terrion (for some reason I really liked this guy)
    Gilles Thibaudeau (had half a good season with Damphousse and Marios)
    Ian White (at best a 4th defenseman)

    #4 Kelly and Day
    Cory Cross (couldn't catch a Zamboni)
    Dave Ellett (scored a big OT goal)
    Rick Lanz (i think we gave up a 1st round draft pick for this guy, not as bad as Kurvers though)(we didn't give up a first rounder; rather someone we drafted in the 1st round - Jim Benning)
    Leeman (i guess he changed his number to 11 after the 84 - 85 season)
    Bob McGill (we used a first round draft pick on this tool, actually it was a 2nd)
    Darryl Shannon
    Denis Smith (who?)
    Brad Maxwell (don't remember this guy either)

    - Won't bother looking at number 1, but will take a stab at Jeff Reese.

    I wonder which leaf number has had the least amount of tools? Even 93 has Alexander Godynuk. After the next few seasons all of the numbers will have nhl jobbers attached to them. This franchise protects it's legacy and tradition as well as Bester protected the net.

  4. I posted my picks over at PPP, but here they are again: #7 (King Clancy, Tim Horton), #10 (Syl Apps, George Armstrong), #13 (Mats Sundin), #17 (Wendel Clark), #21 (Borje Salmning), #22 (Rick Vaive), #27 (Darryl Sittler, Frank Mahovlich), and finally, #93 (Dougie). These numbers should be retired and never worn again.

    P.S. The above comment would make for a great post, Anonymous, whoever you are.

  5. Hey Mike,

    Good looking blog - keep it up!