TORONTO -- In his roller-coaster tenure as a Maple Leaf, Bryan McCabe certainly had a flair for the dramatic.
And the comedic. And, some would say, the tragic.
Sometimes all at once.
One such 'McCabe moment,' perhaps the best-known, occurred Oct. 15, 2007 at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo. The Leafs defenceman, killing a penalty in the waning seconds of overtime, shot the puck into his own net in an ill-fated clearing attempt that gave the host Sabres a 5-4 victory, leaving the home fans laughing and the Toronto supporters seething.
As reporters swarmed into the dressing room looking for the guy wearing the goat horns, there was McCabe, sitting, waiting, being accountable for his glaring gaffe.
About 20 minutes after the grilling ended, McCabe, having showered and dressed, made a revealing comment to one of the Leafs beat writers.
"Everybody makes mistakes," he said. "But it seems when I make one, it's always on the biggest stage."
Rightly or wrongly, as McCabe embarks on a new chapter in his career as a Florida Panther, the legions of Bryan Bashers back in Toronto will remember him for exactly that -- the on-ice stumbles, the US$5.75-million salary they feel he never lived up to, and his unwillingness, along with the rest of The Muskoka Five, to waive his no-trade clause at the February deadline.
Deep into the summer, McCabe wanted to remain a Leaf. But the Leafs made it clear they no longer wanted him. And, judging by public sentiment, neither did the Toronto fans.
That is why a change of scenery is the best thing for all parties involved.
When the deal shipping him to the Panthers is officially announced as early as today, will there be any acknowledgement that, prior to his injury-plagued 2007-08 campaign, McCabe posted three consecutive seasons of at least 15 goals and 53 points, ranking him with the league leaders among defencemen in both categories?
Instead, the skeptics will recall the own-goal in Buffalo instead of the 2003-04 season when he was a second-team all-star.