Remembering Bryan McCabe as a Proud Maple Leaf

Shane HouseAnalyst ISeptember 7, 2008

As happy as I was to hear that Bryan McCabe was traded last week, I've had time to think about it. Bryan McCabe, towards the end of his career with Toronto was, to say the least, bad. But does anyone remember what he did contribute to Toronto?

For years he brought stability to the Toronto power play along with a sense of optimism when he shot the puck. I still remember way back in the day when people used to love McCabe. People even wore the infamous mohawk he used to sport during the playoffs pre-lockout, dying it blue just to look like Bryan.

But then it happened.

On his contract year with the Toronto Maple Leafs, John Ferguson, Jr. offered him a lucrative five-year, $29 million contract that McCabe couldn't refuse. Both sides were in a tough spot.

John Ferguson, Jr. would have had his head on a pike if he didn't re-sign him, but had to match his demands to get him. McCabe wanted to come back, but felt he deserved more for his services because of his statistics. So they signed the deal, ultimately making both their graves for the Toronto fans to throw dirt on.

After the deal, McCabe could feel the pressure to perform and it wore on him. Even after turning in a 57-point campaign the next year, people still felt they got a raw deal for the talented defenseman.

So, like Leafs fans do, they ragged on him and wouldn't let up saying he was overpaid and not worth the money even though he netted 15 goals as a defenseman.

With the Leafs nation breathing down his neck, he still turned in a solid season. At this point, though, you could tell it was wearing on him and after the Leafs didn't make the playoffs for a second year, all eyes turned to McCabe.

I was right there with everybody else saying he was overpaid and is only hurting the Leafs. But for what? Being offered a huge contract that will give him financial security for five years. That bastard!

But let's be serious for a second. If you can ignore the big contract, Bryan McCabe contributed a lot to the Leafs and until last season he was one of the biggest assets to the team.

But that was until last season.

Last season was tragic and saw the bewildered Leaf fall from the grace of Leafs fans young and old, making anyone who owned a McCabe jersey hide it in shame.

I even wore it as a joke in shinny and scored on my own net. But that's besides the point.

Bryan McCabe loved the Leafs and was proud every day that he got to represent the Blue and White on that ice. When I look back at his time in Toronto, I won't think of him scoring on Andrew Raycroft with three seconds left. I will be thinking of a man who was proud to step into the Air Canada Centre and play for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Thanks, Bryan McCabe. I wish you all the best in Florida this year.