Toronto Maple Leafs: Which of the Hall of Fame Inductees Was the Best as a Leaf?
The NHL Hall of Fame inductees from this year included three former Maple Leafs players: forwards Doug Gilmour and Joe Nieuwendyk and goaltender Ed Belfour.
With such a group of guys being inducted at the same time, it begs the question of who was the best as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs?
None of them played the majority of their careers in Toronto, but they did all enjoy some time in the blue and white. All three of them won a Stanley Cup during their careers, but none could bring a championship to the city that has waited the longest for a parade in downtown.
After their careers have been immortalized in the Hall of Fame in Toronto, let's see who had the biggest impact on the ice in Toronto.
Joe Nieuwendyk: One Season in Toronto, 2003-04
While Nieuwendyk only played 64 games in Toronto he did have a solid impact with the team. At the age of 37, he brought veteran leadership, a solid scoring touch and was reunited with his Calgary Flames teammate Gary Roberts.
Who knows the impact that Nieuwendyk could have had if the NHL didn't cancel the 2004-05 season because of the lockout.
Nieuwendyk was a solid leader on the Leafs and was a big part in helping Toronto to make the playoffs for the last time.
Ed Belfour: Three Seasons in Toronto, 2002-2006
Belfour played three seasons in Toronto and finished his tenure there ranked ninth in franchise wins. Not only did he rack up 93 victories as a Maple Leaf, but he has the best win percentage of the top 10 goalies in team history at 55 percent.
Belfour ranks eighth in team history in shutouts and even managed to put up five assists in Toronto. He is definitely one of the best goalies in Maple Leafs history, and like Nieuwendyk, he could have had even better stats had the lockout not happened.
Toronto has long been known for not having a star goalie, and Belfour was definitely one of the best the team has employed in a long time.
Doug Gilmour: Seven Seasons in Toronto, 1991-1997
Gilmour was a captain during his time on the Leafs, something not easily earned or kept.
During his time in Toronto, Gilmour scored enough to place 15th on the all-time points list for the Maple Leafs franchise. His 452 points as a Leaf are that much more impressive when you factor in the fact that he only played 393 games in Toronto. Whipping out a calculator, that means Gilmour scored a staggering 1.15 points per game.
Doug "Killer" Gilmour also knew how to drop the gloves and was one of the most exciting players that played in Toronto in a long time. He was a great leader and is undoubtedly one of the best players in team history.
And the Winner Is...
Doug Gilmour is definitely the best Maple Leaf of the 2011 Hall of Fame class.
Joe Nieuwendyk only played three quarters of a season in Toronto, so even though he was great in his time there, it's hard to consider him the best in the group.
Ed Belfour is definitely one of the better goalies that has suited up for the Leafs, but he still is no Johnny Bower, Felix Potvin or Mike Palmateer.
Dougie Gilmour earned the "C" on a team that has employed many incredible Hall of Fame players as its captain, and he stepped up as well as any of them.
Gilmour could score, fight and lead, and he will go down in history as one of the best Leafs ever, not just one of their best scorers or leaders.