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Mark Osborne was a salt and pepper Maple Leaf

Not that many individuals have had the opportunity to wear the blue and white Maple Leaf more than once in their NHL career.  There have been some instances where this has happened, of course, but it is relatively rare.  (As many modern-day Leaf observers well know, Wendel Clark was certainly an exception—he actually played for the Maple Leafs on three separate occasions in his career.) Doug Gilmour’s much celebrated return to Toronto at the end of his NHL career ended abruptly when he suffered a serious knee injury only minutes into playing his first game for Pat Quinn in March of 2003.

One name  in this “category” that springs to mind from my younger days is that of long-time Leaf rearguard, Bobby Baun.  Baun, as old-time Leaf fans remember, was the author of the famous overtime-winning goal in the 1964 finals against the Red Wings in Detroit.  Facing sudden-death elimination, that goal allowed the Leafs to even the tight series at three games apiece and have a shot at winning it in seven games back home at Maple Leaf Gardens, which they did.  That he accomplished the feat in Game 6 while playing on a broken ankle has been a story of mythical proportion in Leafland for the past  almost 50 years.

Baun (right) played here from the late 1950s until he was lost in the 1967 summer expansion draft.  After time with Oakland and later the Red Wings, he came back to Toronto and had two excellent seasons with the Leafs before a serious neck injury ended his career a bit prematurely. In his second stint with the Leafs, he was the on-ice father of a talented kiddie-corps defense that included Jim McKenny, Rick Ley, Brian Glennie, Brad Selwood, Mike Pelyk and Jim Dorey.

One of the other relatively recent “two-time” Maple Leafs was winger Mark Osborne.   Osborne came to the NHL as what would now be a mid-second round draft pick (selected in 1980), and had a tremendous rookie season in Detroit.  After some good years with the Rangers, he came to the Leafs in the mid-later 1980s, at a time when the team had some really nice young talent like Russ Courtnall, Gary Leeman, Al Iafrate, Vincent Damphouse and the aforementioned Clark.

But “Ozzie”, as he is known to his many hockey friends, is probably best remembered for his second incarnation with the Leafs, which coincided with the arrival of Pat Burns.  Every player on a Burns team had a “role”, and Osborne played his really to the hilt, on a line with hard-working center Peter Zezel and fellow under-the radar winger Bill Berg.

Osborne had morphed into a very defensively dependable (he may well have always been that, but his scoring exploits may have overshadowed his overall play earlier in his career) by the time he returned to the Leafs in the early ‘90s and he was the epitome of a “team” player with Toronto. Along with his memorable linemates, he provided the team with a bit of spice.

Matteo Codispoti (WeWant a Cup) and I were fortunate to catch up with the current Leafs TV analyst, and we chatted with him on Episode 14 of our Leaf Matters podcast.

Here is the iTunes link:

For those who don’t use iTunes, here is the Podalmightly link to the podcast:

By all means share your thoughts on the episode here, or on iTunes!  Thanks for visiting VLM, and for tuning into to Leaf Matters as well.


  1. Bob Baun was the kind of defenseman that I always envisioned my Dad to be. Dad always appreciated his crushing hip checks and tenacity on the ice... I was thankful to see his second incarnation in the Blue and White (since my 'sentience' missed the first one). Always liked him, too.

    I had high hopes for Dougie's return to the Maple Leafs, with visions of Wendel dancing in my head (to be seasonal in my poetic prose). When I realized he would be in Calgary for his first game back with the team, I made my way down to the Saddledome and bought a nosebleed seat to enjoy the game.

    I so enjoyed the spritely ice dance of his skating on his first shift(s) and I saw him return to the ice for another as I followed the play, but was distracted just long enough that I could only look back to see Dougie down on the ice (near the blue line, if I'm remembering correctly). Less than 5 minutes of ice time back with the Leafs and my hopes of another playoff run with 93 were dashed along with the remaining days of his career... bittersweet memories :(

    Mark Osborne was one of my favourite 3rd liners (along with Peter Zezel) - loved his effort and effectiveness and am looking forward to the chance to hear your interview!

  2. Baun was a special player in many ways, InTimeFor62- interesting that you mention your Dad in that rearguard as a former player.

    Yes, Gilmour's return could have been neat, but not to be, unfortunately.

    Hope you enjoy the Osborne episode if you get a chance to listen to the Leaf Matters podcast. I'm pleasantly surprised that the "early returns" on the show's numbers have been solid. Hopefully people will keep tuning in, despite the lockout. Thanks InTimeFor62.