It’s centennial time!
(Well, sort of – if you’re feeling kind of generous with your definitions.)
(The 100th anniversary of the first game involving the team that mostly technically is now the Toronto Maple Leafs will happen on Dec. 19, 2017. This is the 100th season of play, but only if you count the season that didn’t actually happen in 2004-05. The 100th season that the Leafs actually take part in will also be the 100th season that the NHL actually takes part in, and that will be next season, which also happens to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the first games – but I digress.)
So – centennial! Yay!
The Leafs, as part of the centennial that kind of is and kind of isn’t today released a list of the top 100 Leafs of all time. When I heard about this, my reaction was that after one gets to approximately #40, the ranking would be mostly a crapshoot. Were I to do it, I said, I’d take ten from each decade and handle it that way. How else does one choose between Harry Cameron and Tomas Kaberle? They barely even played the same sport.
The Leafs then released their list.
Yep – after 40, it’s a bit of a dog’s breakfast. James van Riemsdyk is rated #100, for example, right behind Joe Klukay. JVR has been a decent scoring winger for mostly lousy contemporary teams. Klukay was a penalty killer for the great teams of the late 40s. The only comparison I see is that they’ve scored 178 and 180 career points, respectively. Who really made the call between who was a better Leaf?
Like I said, better to go decade by decade.
The breakdown is this:
One notes that the Leafs (of sorts) started play in 1917 and my list goes back to 1906. I have three reasons for this:
The first is that the events of 1917 fall directly out of the events of the prior three seasons, and the team that would become the Leafs was lifted lock, stock and barrel from the old Blueshirts of the NHL.
The second is that by virtue of not being part of the NHL, the players who brought Toronto’s first Stanley Cup to town have been flushed down the memory hole and this has long annoyed me.
The third is, well, why not? My blog, my rules, my list.
Note that 1906 actually takes us not back to the start of the Blueshirts, but the start of the old Toronto Professionals (Argonauts) of the Trolley League. None of these guys made the list. They should have.
The first decade contains 11 years, much like my top 100 will contain 110. I will note that I grew up as a fan of the Hitchhikers series (the five-book trilogy).
I have the list ready for the first ten. Time to build out the profiles.