Thanks for the memories

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

Darryl Sittler, Rick Vaive and Wendel Clark agree to disagree.

With just a week remaining in the regular season and fretting Maple Leafs fans gnawing their finger nails down to the bone, we decided to ask the three former Toronto captains what has been the team's highlight of the 2006-07 campaign.

Rinkside's personal choice is that memorable night in February when the prodigal son returned in the form of Dave Keon, who was greeted with a standing ovation as part of the ceremony honouring the 1967 Stanley-Cup winning Leafs team.

"That would be my pick," said Sittler, who yesterday joined Vaive and Clark for a luncheon at a banquet to promote their Captain's Row portrait.

"Not only was it great to see Davey back but I was at the dinner the night before with the '67 players and I could see how much the entire event meant to them."

No offence to that '67 team, but Vaive's pick was the October evening when Mats Sundin scored his 500th career goal with an overtime winner, capping off a hat trick against the Calgary Flames.

"When you hit 500, it virtually paves your way to into the Hall of Fame," Vaive said.

What about it, Wendel? The deciding vote is yours.

"Those two things are great," Clark said. "But with a week to go, I think the best is still yet to come."

Without further ado, here are some of Rinkside's picks for the best and worst of the Leafs season:

TOP HIGHLIGHTS

1. 1967 Leafs honoured, Feb. 17

Keon returns. Enough said.

2. Sundin scores 500th, Oct. 14

Visiting Flames won't forget it. Neither will the fans on hand for the momentous occasion.

3. Belak-Janssen bout, March 20

The anti-fighting fraternity will whine about this pick but let's face it: You don't hear 20,000 fans chanting Belak's name every night like they did on this occasion.

Glaring lowlights

1. The Queen City Collapse, March 23

Leafs blow a 4-1 lead in the third period and drop a gut-wrenching 5-4 decision to the host Buffalo Sabres. Could end up costing Toronto a playoff spot.

2. Down goes Kabby, March 2

A cheap shot by New Jersey Devils' Cam Janssen leaves Kaberle out with a concussion for three weeks.

3. Battered by Beantowners, Nov. 25, Nov. 28

Maple Leafs are outscored 7-2 in back-to-back losses on home ice to the Boston Bruins. So much for home cooking.

Team MVP

1. Tomas Kaberle

Just look how much the team missed him when he was nursing a concussion last month. A smooth customer.

2. Sundin

While other key forwards crumbled with injuries all season, the captain, for the most part, has been durable other than a mid-season hand injury.

Unsung heroes

1. Chad Kilger, forward

Among the league leaders in hits. Arguably the Leafs best forecheckers.

2. John Pohl, forward

General manager John Ferguson found a diamond in the rough here.

3. Ian White, defence

Good things come in small packages.

4. Alexei Ponikarovsky

Works well with Sundin.

Top comeback stories

1. Boyd Devereaux, forward

Was contemplating heading to Europe when Leafs came calling.

2. Bates Battaglia, forward

Paul Maurice seems to get the best out of him, as was the case in Carolina.

3. Carlo Colaiacovo, defence

Seemed to be avoiding injury until being banged up last night against the New York Rangers.

Scapegoat Central

1. Raycroft

Is on the verge of setting a franchise record for goaltender victories in a season, yet has been jeered by the home fans more than any other Leaf. You would almost think his name was Larry Murphy.

2. Bryan McCabe, defence

Has absorbed his share of boos from the Air Canada Centre critics, too.

3. J-S Aubin, goalie

Has been nailed to the bench, for the most part, ever since he flung his stick in the air after a McCabe giveaway led to a Pittsburgh goal back on Aug. 29.

4. Jeff O'Neill, forward

First he scores 20 goals, then he finds himself a healthy scratch. Tough pill to swallow for the personable veteran.


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