Reading some comments from Leaf players today, where they compare Dion Phaneuf with former Leaf Bryan McCabe, brought home something: in my earlier post on the history of major Leaf trades over the past 50+ years, I neglected to mention the Bryan McCabe deal.
I don’t know, but, in modern times, it stands as one of the absolute best deals the Leafs have made. While many have criticized moves in that era, under Quinn (as GM and coach) the Leafs moved Alexander Karpotsev for McCabe.
Now, to be clear, there was no fanfare when McCabe arrived because, while he was a former first-round draft choice, by the time he hit Toronto in the fall of 2000 at the ripe old age of 25, he had already been sent away by three clubs (Islanders, Vancouver, Chicago.
That made the trade all the more spectacular in its outcome. Karpotsev was soon gone from the NHL, McCabe (for all the criticism and criticism foisted upon him by Leaf nation) became a legitimate, end-of-season All-Star in 2003-’04. That doesn’t happen easily, especially when a guy does not have a previous ‘star’ reputation.
He was good enough back then to be seriously considered for the Canadian World Cup team in 2004 and was selected for the Olympic team in 2006.
By any measure, considering what the Leafs gave up—and what the expectations were at the time—McCabe surpassed what any of us could have hoped for the day he arrived.
If people were honest, he’s a heck of a lot better than much of what the Leafs have now, and people were ready to run him out of town.
So, I forgot that deal—not because it didn’t turn out great, but probably because we expected nothing when he arrived.
It’s different now, of course. People are expecting a lot, perhaps too much from Phaneuf.
But for now, the deal has at least brought some life back into discussions about the Leafs.