What's the first thing that comes to mind when I say "Toronto Maple Leafs?"
Perhaps, Mats Sundin? Darryl Sittler? Wendel Clark? Doug Gilmour? Or maybe just one of the current Leafs like: Nik Antropov, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Matt Stajan, and Tomas Kaberle.
To be honest, these are the only true "Maple Leafs" left on the roster, but at the rate we're going, the only thing we are headed for is extinction.
So what is a "true Maple Leaf?"
In my perspective, it is a player who has played for the Leafs for a descent amount of seasons, (at least three to four full seasons) and have stuck with them through thick and thin.
They don't necessarily have to be drafted by the Leafs to be considered a true Leaf though. Mats Sundin wasn't drafted by the Leafs, yet he's become one of the Leafs' greatest heroes.
In the latest trade, we lost two true Leafs, Alex Steen, and Carlo Colaiacovo. To me, Alex Steen was one of those guys who was meant to be a Leaf for a while and just seemed unmovable, Unfortunately, I ended up being wrong.
Carlo on the other hand, was the kind of guy that kept getting injured. However, we never seemed to give up on him, at least not until a couple of days ago. Two down, four to go.
Getting back to Antropov, Ponikarovsky, Stajan, and Kaberle now. What does the future hold for them? There's no doubt they possess some worth in the NHL market, but are they really worth trading?
This guy has been here for a while now. He was drafted by the Leafs in 1998, and has participated in eight seasons (he's on his ninth right now). He played on the top line with Mats last season, and still continues to play on the top line this year as well. He is a great player and a true Leaf. He was with the Leafs in the golden age, (2002 playoffs) and has stuck with them through to the rebuilding era (now).
We can always expect a lot from Nik, and our expectations are usually met. So, is he really worth trading?
Just like Nik Antropov, Ponikarovsky was drafted in the 1998 entry draft, and has been playing on the top line for a while now.
He gets better every game folks, and he has a lot more seasons ahead of him. He's pretty durable, and doesn't get injured as easily as some of the other players.
Alexei is always there for his team, and hopefully will be for a while. He received a career high in points in the '06-'07 season (41). We're still waiting to see what he's capable of doing after having played a full 82 games.
Matt Stajan hasn't been around for as long as Poni or Antropov, but he's showing his true colours more than ever now. He did pretty well his first season, but stayed at that level for a while. This season, he's showing he can get the job done, and scores a couple of goals while he's at it.
Matt Stajan, we salute you, and hope you will stay with the Leafs for many years to come.
His name says it all, he's probably the most consistent Leaf in the dressing room right now. Tomas went to the All-Star Game last season to represent the Leafs, and will most likely do the same this year. Tomas Kaberle was drafted eighth round, yet plays like he was a first or second rounder.
Following some comments he made earlier this season, it seems that he might be leaving the Leafs, but who knows? If he can see the Leafs as having a bright future ahead of them, he might just stay.
There's much more to these guys than I have said, MUCH more. But those are our only true Leafs left, and we have to value every second we watch them play.
Darcy Tucker was my favourite player, and I took him for granted. In fact, my top three favourite players were Darcy Tucker, Mats Sundin, and Kyle Wellwood. Now that they're all gone, I feel like I took all of them for granted. I thought they'd always be there for us, but once again, I was wrong.
Matt Stajan is probably going to stay with the Leafs for a while, but Kaberle, Antropov, and Poni have some nice value right now, and could possibly be traded for something nice in return.
Friends, peers, Leaf Nation citizens, our true Leafs are getting extinct. It's true that there is nothing we can do about it, but we can appreciate every moment we still have with them. We can cheer them on like we never have before, and most importantly B-leaf.
Some Leafs who may become "true Leafs"
Coming soon: “The Leafs This Week,” The youcastr radio show that will be hosted by Andrew Echevarria and Tyler Hill. If you like the "Checking The Laundry" series, you will enjoy the show. Stay tuned for more details coming soon in our Checking the Laundry series.