Remember a guy named Nathan Dempsey?
Probably the poster boy for how Pat Quinn hated using young players during his tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Nathan Dempsey in my opinion was a Bryan Berard with more defensive ability.
He was not the fastest, but he moved the puck exceptionally well and had a great shot.
So why didn't the Leafs not use such an asset?
Pretty much a combination of Pat Quinn and the fact that from 1998-2004, the Maple Leafs bought there teams, so there was no space for a player trying to prove themselves as an NHLer.
Nathan Dempsey made his first appearance during the 1996-1997 season, where in 14 games, he got a goal and an assist for 2 points. Not too bad, but also not good enough of an impact to earn a roster spot.
So Dempsey was cast back into the minors for three years until 1999-2000, when he got a brief call-up for 6 games. Once again, he played well, just not well enough for a roster spot.
The next year however, was the year that had everybody realizing how good this guy was.
In 2000-2001, after earning 39 points in 55 games with the then St. John's Maple Leafs, he got the call to the big club, and did not disappoint.
He ended up finishing the year with 10 points in 25 games and had everybody excited at the fact that the Leafs had a prospect, he made his impact and had everybody talking about him and the success he would have the next season.
So the next season came and........NO NATHAN DEMPSEY!
In the minors in 2001-2002, he got a whopping 13 goals, 48 assists and 61 points in 75 games. At that pace on any other team, he would have gotten a call-up after he got to 35 points. But, on the Leafs, it earned him a 3 game call-up and an extra 6 games during the playoffs because Quinn liked his moxy.
After that season, Dempsey decided to hit the open market and signed a 2 year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks. In his first full year with Chicago, he got 5 goals and 28 points in 67 games, but more importantly, he proved that he was an NHL worthy player and could play at that caliber.
The next season, he was traded to the L.A. Kings at the deadline to help them with there push to the playoffs. Sadly, they did not make it to the playoffs, but, Dempsey improved with a season total of 12 goals and 20 assists for 32 points in 75 games.
Then, the lockout hit and the style of the game changed.
Nathan Dempsey came back in the 2005-2006 season and was not the same.
He only tallied 13 points in 53 games and was often a healthy scratch for the L.A. Kings and was let go after the 2005-2006 season.
The next year, he was signed to a 2-way deal with the Bruins and even though he did play well in the minors, his play in the NHL was dismal at best only getting one assist in 17 games in 2006-2007.
So where is Nathan Dempsey now?
He did not retire of that's what you think. he went over to Bern in the Swiss league where he just completed a very successful season.
So what was Nathan Dempsey's demise in the NHL?
Sadly, Nathan was not young enough or fast enough to better adapt his game to the NHL style. He was in his 30's after the lockout and the game was much faster when he came back.
Its just sad to know that because of a old-style coach, a player had a lot less time in the NHL then he should have.
It's just good to know that a player that payed his dues finally got a legitimate shot to play for an NHL team.