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“Ten Best” Maples Leafs of the past 50 years: feedback

Thanks to all who took the time to write and comment on this weekend’s post regarding my thoughts on the “Top Ten” Leafs of the past 50 years.

As I mentioned when I first posted the names, this was intended to be a fun post. Part of the “fun” is that we all have different views and opinions. I’ve often looked at other similar “lists” (or “top 50” for whatever the given article was about) and wondered, “How could you include so and so…and forget this other guy”. So for those who disagreed vehemently with certain choices and preferred other players, I get it.

With regards to some specific names that some of you feel should be included: Again, that’s the nature of these kinds of assessments. Everyone sees things differently. Every player I wrote about I saw with my own eyes over the past 50 years, and have also seen them many times on old broadcasts. So my selections are not simply based on vague “memories” of when I was 7 or 10 years old.

As I outlined, my criteria was not perfect, but it was intended to consider talent, along with leadership, overall impact and longevity in a Leaf uniform. There are always “exceptions” and I made one for Bert Olmstead (who only played with the Leafs for four seasons, but had a huge impact on the team developing a winning attitude) and not for others, I acknowledge, who may be just as—or more—deserving.

Some mentioned that players such as Barilko, Broda and Sawchuk should have been on the list. Sawchuk was, in the minds of many observers, the finest goaltender of his generation, perhaps of all-time. That said, I chose Bower over Sawchuk because he played much longer in Toronto and won 4 Cups with the Leafs, Sawchuk just the one in ’67. And I thought Bower was a heck of a goalie, too.

Broda and Barilko both played before my time, so I would only be going by what others have said, and there are lots of those kinds of lists—pulled together from statistics or other people’s lists. I only started watching closely around 1959—that is why there are no names on my list from before then.

There were the expected comments about not including Wendell Clark, though he made my honorable mention list. As for Gilmour, I loved him like everyone else. He was beyond determined for that two-year period, especially in the playoffs in 1993 and 1994. And yes, he played parts of six seasons in Toronto, more than Olmstead, who many felt did not belong on the list.

If readers would like to submit their own lists, send them along!

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