The 20 Best Toronto Maple Leafs of the Past 20 Years
This list is a reflection of those whom I think have earned a spot on it. While there have been countless great Toronto Maple Leafs in the course of their celebrated history, this list will only pertain to those who wore the Blue and White between 1990 and 2010.
While I'm certain you may not agree with all of my choices, please remember, this is in no way a ranking of those players. It would prove very difficult to rank some them.
Doug Gilmour is one of those players that if you were doing a survey for almost any kind of top ten list to do with the Toronto Maple Leafs, would be at or close to the top.
In his 20 year NHL career, "The Killer" played for seven different teams including obviously the Toronto Maple Leafs for whom he played twice.
First coming to the team in 1992 in one of the biggest trades in Leafs history, Gilmour had an immediate impact on the team, scoring 49 points in just 40 games that season.
The following year '92-'93 was statistically the best of his career with 127 in 83 games. He would not really come close to that mark again and would only match the career high of 32 from that season once after that.
After stops in New Jersey, Chicago, Buffalo and Montreal. Doug Gilmour would return to Toronto in 2003. Wanting to play for the Leafs again, he was traded to the team from the Canadiens and Leafs fans were overjoyed to see "The Killer" back in the blue and white.
His come back however would be cut short as he broke his leg after colliding with Calgary Flames Dave Lowry on just his second shift.
He missed the rest of that season, and after John Fergusson declined to re-sign him, officially announced his retirement in September of the following season.
Felix Potvin was turning heads in the NHL from the first time we say him. Even though his first NHL action saw him play four games with the Leafs in 1991-92, and go 0-3-1, he posted a .933 save percentage and a 2.29 GAA.
After becoming the full time number one for the Leafs in late in the '92-'93 season, thus allowing the team to trade Grant Fuhr to the Sabres, Potvin rewarded the Leafs faith in him by back stopping the team all the way to the conference finals.
Only to lose to Kerry Frasier and The La Kings in seven games.
In 1993-94, The Cat once again had a great year, and helped the team once again to the conference finals only to lose the the Vancouver Canucks in six games.
The Leafs would not fair so well the following year exiting in the first round. Felix Potvin, despite being a two time all star and runner up for the Calder trophy would eventually fall from grace with the Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans, and would be traded to the Islanders during the 1998-99 season.
An aging defense among other things would have much to do with Potvin's departure, in 1996-97, he set a record for the most shots faced by an NHL goal tender during a single season with 2438, a record that stood until Roberto Luongo broke it with the Panthers during the 2003-2004 campaign.
Potvin never again enjoyed quite the same success as he did while wearing the Blue and White. After stops with the Islanders, Canucks,Kings and Bruins, Potvin had been in talks with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2006 and could have signaled a comeback for the then 34 tear old veteran, his equipment however, didn't conform to the new NHL rules and he didn't want to take the two way deal that was being offered.
Though at 38 years old Potvin has never officially retired from playing, the likelihood of a comeback seems slim.
Wendel Clark was drafted fist over all in 1985 by Toronto and quickly earned a reputation as a hard hitter who didn't back down from anyone.
Nick named "Captain Crunch" by his team mates Clark amassed 227 penalty minutes in his rookie season in Toronto, 44 minutes shy of the career high he set the following year.
Playing the better part of 13 of his 18 year NHL career with the Leafs, he was and is one of the most revered players to have ever dawned the Blue an White.
Iafrate was a giant of a defense man whose smooth skating and devastating shot earned him the fourth overall pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1984 draft.
A powerplay specialist, he was one of the first in a long standing tradition of the Toronto Maple Leafs penchant for rushing prospects into the NHL prematurely.
Though he only technically played one season in the 1990s for the Leafs, he bears inclusion in this group simply because of the dominance he provided on the Buds blue line in the years prior, and with the Caps, Bruins, and Sharks in the years to follow.
Dmitri Yuskevich came over from the Philadelphia Flyers in time to join the Leafs for the 1995-96 season and quickly became an immovable force on the Toronto blue line as well as an expert shot blocker.
One of the most beloved d-men on the team for his seven years in Toronto, "The Tank" was eventually traded to the Florida Panthers.
From there he spent some time in Los Angeles before going over seas to play, where is currently still playing in the Russian Super League.
Mats Sundin is arguably one of the greatest Toronto Maple Leafs of all time. A perennial All-Star and holder of several franchise records.
Sundin is one of few Leafs who were a point a game producer on their career (although with 1,349 points in 1,346 he is technically beyond that).
Often unappreciated, Sundin was often criticized for what many perceived to be a lack of leadership ability on the ice. Although, he received the "Mark Messier Award for Leadership" in 2008, what would ultimately be his last season as a Leaf.
Perhaps the harshest criticism of his professional career came when in February of 2008, he was asked to waive his no-trade clause so that the team could secure some much needed youth as his contract was set to expire at the end of the season.
Sundin was the Leafs leading scorer for 12 of the 13 seasons he played and while in the end some may have questioned his character and commitment to the team, they can never question his drive to be the best he could be.
Curtis "Cujo" Joseph
Curtis Joseph joined the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent in 1998 and was an instant fan favorite.
Joseph posted a shut out the first time he faced his former club, the Edmonton Oilers. A game that saw a chorus of boos for Joseph from Edmonton fans, right up until he was voted the first star of the game and the boos turned to cheers.
While with the Leafs, Joseph was runner up for the Vezina trophy in 1999 and 2000, and posted three consecutive 30+ win seasons.
Although Cujo had been instrumental in the Leafs going to the Eastern Conference finals in both 1999 and 2002, then GM Pat Quinn refused to sign Joseph to a four year extension.
Quinn believed he could get Joseph to sign a three year deal but at the end of the day, Cujo left the Leafs to the Detroit Red Wings.
Dave Andreychuk is the last 50 goal scorer the Leafs have seen. Until the arrival of Phil Kessel this past off season, there probably hasn't been much of a threat to remove that title from Andreychuk's resume.
Always creative with the puck, this six foot four inch native of Hamilton Ontario would move on after playing with the Leafs in five seasons.
After playing in New Jersey, Tampa Bay, Boston, Colorado, Buffalo and Toronto, Dave Andreychuk, he was waived by the Lightning in 2006. Not only did he win a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay, but also owns the distinction of being the oldest player to ever make a Stanley Cup debut. He did so at 40 years, seven months old.
Vincent Damphousse was widely considered to be one of the most complete center man in Canadian history. He was always a highly regarded two way player and as well known for his defensive contributions as his offense.
Drafted by the Leafs sixth overall, in 1986, Damphousse would actually see the best of his 18-year career as a Montreal Canadien scoring 90 or more points three of his seven years there.
As a Leaf, Damphousse appeared in the 1991 All star game and was named the games MVP.
As a defense man in an era that NHL teams didn't encourage offensive out put from their back end, Dave Ellett score a little better that a point every two games throughout his 16 year career in the NHL.
With 568 points in 1129 career games, Ellet was a mainstay on the Toronto blue line for seven seasons and helped the Leafs on their conference final runs of 1993 and 1994.
In game seven of the 1993 conference finals, one of those series that will long be remembered for the infamous "non call" by Kerry Frasier, Ellet scored two goals.
The first was a bank shot by Wayne Gretzky off Ellets skate to complete the hat trick for the Great One. The second, was actually scored by Ellet in a losing cause.
The Kings and Gretzky would go on to lose the finals to the Canadiens in five games.
Ed Belfour was perhaps the greatest un drafted goal tender of all time. He was an integral part of the Leafs success in 2003 and 2004.
Belfour won the Vezina Trophy twice in his career, a Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars and was an all-star in six of his 18 seasons in the NHL.
Tie Domi is one of the most beloved Leafs of all time. Never afraid to drop the gloves or jump to the defense of a team mate, he was well respected by his peers and a fear foe to other enforcers around the league.
Accumulating 3515 penalty minutes in 1020 career games in the NHL, later in his career, Domi displayed somewhat softer hands and scored career highs in goals, and career lows in fighting majors.
One of his most memorable goals was in a preseason shoot out when Quinn put him on the ice and sure enough, much to the joy of Leafs fans he scored!
Ed Olczyk scored career highs in points with the Leafs before being traded to the Winnepeg Jets during the 1991-92 season.
Olczyk scored 27 goals in what was to be the final season of the Winnepeg Jets franchise, and played for the Rangers, Kings, Penguins, and Blackhawks, before becoming the Penguins coach in 2005.
Gary Roberts was a consummate professional throughout his 21-year NHL career. In 1,224 career games he posted 438 goals and 910 points.
Known for a hard his hard hitting and abrasive style of play, Roberts was one third of the short lived Toronto Maple Leafs line nick named the "Bay Street Bullies" who were for a short time one of the most feared lines in hockey and a massive hit with the fans.
Peter Zezel (b 1965, d 2009), played four seasons for the Leafs in the early 1990's and was a big part of their successful playoff runs during that time.
Zezel played 873 games and recorded 608 points. "He was a guy who was one of the first one the ice at practice and one of the last to leave and he worked incessantly not only on faceoffs, but one-timers—he had a great one-timer," said Hockey Night in Canada Radio host Jeff Marek.
One of the most enjoyable goal scorers to watch in a Leafs uniform, Mogilny's blinding speed and quick hands around the net were the difference makers on several NHL rosters during his career.
Having scored more than 50 goals twice in his career before arrive to the Leafs during the 2001-2002 season, the news of his arrival had many fans of the team overjoyed.
Although he would not reach the 50 goal mark again, he was an integral part of the Leafs success in the regular season and playoffs while wearing the Blue and White.
Jamie Macoun played seven of his eighteen NHL seasons in Toronto. Arriving during the '91-'92 season, he is one of many on this list who were a part of the back to back appearances of the team in the conference finals of 1993 and 1994.
A leader both on and off the ice, Macoun won two Stanley cups in his career, one with the Detroit Red Wings and the other with the Calgary flames.
Darcy Tucker is one of those players, that when he was on, he was really on. You always knew that he was going to do something big when you saw that "look" in his eyes as he was jumping over the boards.
Although he was never a prolific scorer (career high was 28 goals), he always had the ability to be a game breaker. He could single-handedly change the momentum of a game with a body check, and was greatly admired by team mates and fans alike.
Tomas Kaberle is one the best offensive defense men in the NHL With 738 NHL games played and 433 points, this four time all star has player his entire 10-year NHL career with the Maple Leafs.
Often the subject of trade rumors, Kaberle, although not the most physical of d-men would be a welcome addition on any NHL team and there has been no shortage of potential trade partners.
Tomas currently has a no trade clause in his contract that officially becomes void this off season. With that in mind, it is the opinion of a great many sports writers that he will in fact be traded at the end of this year.
As I said in the introduction, this list is in no way a ranking. You will disagree with some of my choices, and I hope to hear from you.
I would like to give a shout out to my friend Mr Brian Dunn. Who is an invaluable resource for my in my research and is a walking encyclopedia of Toronto Maple Leafs statistics.
I would also like to take a moment to let all of you know about an annual charity walk that I am involved in.
It is called the MS Super Cities walk. We walk to help raise awareness and funds for research into a cure. If you would like to support me in this worthwhile event, please do so by clicking on the link below.