Part of being a set builder is that there are certain cards you basically have to buy irrespective of whether you really want them.
Twenty-two years after he traded the Leafs’s 1991 first-rounder for Tom Kurvers, and twenty-one years after he gutted a young, speedy and somewhat talented Leafs team in order to ensure that the pick didn’t turn into Eric Lindros (fortunately it was just some kid named Niedermayer), I have to admit that I’ve mellowed on then-Leafs GM Floyd Smith (I don’t think anyone referred to him as Count Floyd other than me. People should have, though.)
Having hated him for years, I now look at what he was faced with and I almost feel bad for him. Still, I look at his card and I have to shake my head a bit. Floyd Smith was at the helm for the darkest Leafs period I’ve seen in the last 30-some years and I can never really separate him from those seasons.
All things considered, Floyd Smith really had a very good NHL career. He spent parts of 14 seasons in the NHL, as a player, getting to three Stanley Cup Finals, coached the 1974-75 Sabres to another Final (losing to Philly) and was a very solid scout for a lot of years. He became the Leafs’ GM in August of 1989 and made a couple of moves that turned the 1989-90 team into a really fun group to watch.
He was then faced with basically the perfect storm – a combination of catastrophic injuries and horrid timing exacerbated by a couple of suspect trades – and turned a lot of promise into a serious mess. (An example – starter Allan Bester needed surgery and would never be an NHL regular again. The Leafs had traded backup Mark LaForest for a forward who would spend the year in the minors, so all the goaltending duties fell to Peter Ing, who had played 3 career NHL games – and had been lit up in two of them.)
Read the entire story at the link – first because it’s interesting and second because it took me ages to work out the chronology. Smith ends up looking more like the kid who built his sand castle too close to the water and now stands there desperately trying to hold back the tide as everything disintegrates around him. It’s still mostly his own doing, but I feel a little bad all the same.
Without the disaster of 1990-91, though, the resurgence under Fletcher probably doesn’t happen, so the two-year reign of error really was just the last darkness before the dawn.
The Floyd Smith RC brings me to within five cards of the 1963-64 Parkhurst set (94 of 99). All five remaining cards are Habs, and four are RCs (yecch). It’ll be slow as I’m trying to put this set together in NM and have no intention of paying the crazy sums people want for graded cards.
1963-64 Parkhurst is a very popular set and is the last set Parkhurst ever produced before ceding the field to Topps. It’s nice-looking and everyone loves the flags, but it has always felt to me like a set Parkhurst mailed in. The main reason is the backs. Parkhurst always had these tremendous wordy backs that must have taken some time to prepare. After 1960-61, the content got thinner and thinner, and eventually, this is all there was: