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Ex-Leaf defenseman Hal Gill: Like Larry Murphy, we barely knew you

This is not exactly a repeat of the Larry Murphy story, but Leaf fans must sometimes feel snakebit.

Murphy of course was the Hall-of-Fame defenseman who had a good run everywhere (LA, Washington and Pittsburgh, particularly) he ever played- except for his brief, painful time in Toronto where he was booed lustily. He had helped Pittsburgh win Cups, did the same for Detroit, but in Toronto, who knows why, it didn’t seem to be a happy marriage.

He was with the Leafs for less than two seasons, but we never saw him at his best. The problem may not have been Murphy.

When Hal Gill was here, most Leaf followers didn’t think much of it. There was modest fanfare when he arrived from Boston and there were equally modest expectations, but no big reaction when he left. Like Murphy, he played less than two full seasons with the Leafs.

Since Cliff Fletcher traded the 6 foot 7 defenseman to Pittsburgh, his career arc has been, well, pretty good.

He made it to the finals in ’08 and just last season, Gill was a big part of the Penguin defense that advanced all the way to the final and came from behind to upset an experienced, fast and skilled Red Wing team.

Fast-forward to the present. Gill, who signed as a free agent with the Habs this past off-season, now plays big minutes (23+ minutes in Game 7) for Jacques Martin. He was part of shutting down mega-star Alex Ovechkin and so Montreal continues on their playoff run.

Gill has never been fast afoot, but he can play defense in the NHL. And in the right circumstances, very well, apparently.

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