Leafs goalie blunders

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:22 AM ET

24. Unholy goalies

June 22, 2007

If goaltending in hockey is like pitching in baseball, the Leafs are in dire need of some long relief and no-nonsense closers before they win a Cup.

Whether they're rushing them (Ken Wregget, Allan Bester), trading them too early (Bernie Parent, Tuukka Rask), getting them past their prime (Grant Fuhr, Ed Belfour), or over-paying (Vesa Toskala, Andrew Raycroft), going to war against them (Curtis Joseph, Belfour) or simply giving up on them (Felix Potvin), they can't seem to fill the most important position.

Toronto has already used 12 goalies since the lockout.

23. The Night Toronto Died in Chicago

April 2, 1989

This was far from a defining moment in the failed search for a Cup, in fact it wasn't even a playoff game.

But it illustrates the fine line between confidence, incompetence and consequences, in a Leafs world ruled by the latter two in the 1980s. Despite winning just 28 of 79 games, the Leafs went into Chicago needing a win to nip the equally dreadful Hawks for the fourth playoff spot in the awful Norris Division. The Leafs had tried everything the night before to gain the precious two points in St. Louis, pulling their goalie with the score even, leading to the NHL's first regular-season empty-net winning goal in a tie game.

Toronto took a 2-0 lead on Chicago and then 3-1, but Leafs' Ed Olczyk missed a chance to clinch it and the Hawks clawed back. A Todd Gill giveway in his zone in the opening minute of overtime led to Troy Murray's winner on Allan Bester.

A win that night and the Leafs might have overcome all the numerous trials that season, the firing of John Brophy, a power struggle at the Gardens and a war of words between Harold Ballard and Wendel Clark, and Ballard and his young GM, Gord Stellick. It could have been a turning point at the end of the awful '80s. But it was Chicago which used the result as a springboard to play division leading Detroit, beat them and then go all the way to the conference championship, a prelude to two successful seasons under coach Mike Keenan and a trip to the '91 Cup final.

22. Down with the ship

Feb. 21, 2009

Never mind who the captain of the Leafs will be when Gary Bettman hands the lucky man the Stanley Cup to spin around the ACC, how about getting a captain who stays put?

Since George Armstrong retired, no Leafs captain spent his entire career here. Dave Keon went out a Hartford Whaler, Darryl Sittler a Red Wing, Rick Vaive a Buffalo Sabre, Rob Ramage a Flyer. Ramage, Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour all played for four other teams. Keon, Sittler and Vaive all had fights with team management on their way out the door.

Clark and Gilmour did make it back to retire as Leafs in different capacities, but the franchise's leading scorer, Mats Sundin, exited wearing Vancouver Canucks before calling it a career. Toronto doesn't even have a captain now, so Bettman need not sweat the presentation ceremony.


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