I guess what I’m really getting at in the “headline” question today is simply this: who are the players, in your estimation, that bleed blue and white and that you absolutely want to see on this team going forward?
My question is not intended to bring forward a discussion about analytics, or the cap (i.e. who we can afford, etc.), or whether management has been right or wrong about its many decisions over the past couple of years—or decade, for that matter. I’m more interested in going back to the hockey basics. In my world, that means: what is the kind of hockey player I like (speed, skill, knows where to be on the ice, heart, grit, etc.) and the kind of individual I like to see representing the Toronto Maple Leafs on—and off—the ice.
I’m probably too focused on Leaf history and what I think of as the Leaf “legacy”. I’ve written about it regularly here at VLM over the years and in the eBook that I wrote a while back. But I do think that stuff matters. And while we all acknowledge that the Leafs have not been “winners” in, well, an awfully long time, I still believe there is a Maple Leaf standard here we should care about.
Yes, we tend to overdo it when it comes to glorifying the players of the past. Hey, they all had flaws and weren’t always at their best. But they brought something really important to the table: they generally had a combination of skill and grit, and were real “Leafs”. They maybe started their career here (like Duff, Pulford, Keon, Sittler and others mentioned above) or joined the blue and white later in their career, like Stanley and Gilmour. But they were Leafs, bottom line, who played with heart and pride.
Looking at the current Leaf roster, what I’m getting at is this: which individuals play with pride every night? Who are the players you look at and say, “boy, I’m glad this individual is a Maple Leaf”.
Let me know who fits the bill for you. It’s easy to fill in names when the team is playing well and we think just about everyone should be here and be part of the future.
But right now, things aren’t going well and I sense this team will look very different in ten months (heck, maybe in six weeks, by the trading deadline). So who do we absolutely need to keep?
Who are, for you, the true blue Maple Leafs on this roster, guys you want representing the crest in the years ahead?