We often, in Leafland, talk about our “favorites” As in, who is your favorite Leaf right now? Who is your favorite Leaf of all-time?
In the modern era, I’m guessing that the most popular Leaf may well be Doug Gilmour. For that relatively short window of time, Gilmour was the heart and soul of those wonderful Pat Burns team from now almost twenty years ago.
Gilmour played with so much determination ( a kind of latter-day Bobby Clarke, actually)—not to mention his tremendous vision and passing ability—that he stood apart from most other Leafs in terms of being a a true “fan favourite”.
To this day, you just have to say “Dougie” (click to see an earlier post on Gilmour) and Leaf fans know who you are talking about.
A guy who was drafted into the organization and played here on three separate occasions was the much-loved Wendel Clark. I haven’t probably written enough about him here, but did post a piece a while back (click here to see that column…)
Still, I wonder if the most popular Leaf of all-time may be the old “China Wall” as he was sometimes known, Johnny Bower. Bower, now in his 80s, remains by all accounts (I interviewed him only once, about ten years ago, but what a gentleman he was) as nice a guy as you could ever want to interact with. And what a treasure he was on the legendary Maple Leaf teams that won those four Cups in the 1960s of my youth.
I posted recently on Bower’s “last great game” in blue and white, which happened during the 1968-'69 playoffs. You might want to have a peek by clicking here…
With training camp now only days away, really, you could also check out a post on some of the bigger issues facing the Leafs heading into training camp (click), including stories on Gustavsson, Connolly, where the squad's leadership will come from as well as some thoughts on the depth concerns the Leafs will have to deal with.
Our hockey fix is not far off now…