Leafs Nation is not for all

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

Not every player is suited to flourish in the blue-and-white fishbowl that is Toronto.

Just ask Florida Panthers defenceman Bryan McCabe, who practically was booed out of the city.

McCabe understands that certain individuals just canít handle the second-by-second notoriety of being a Maple Leaf. Thatís why Lee Stempniakís sudden offensive outburst with the Phoenix Coyotes has not shocked him.

ďIím not surprised at all at his success since being traded from the Leafs,Ē McCabe said Monday from Florida. ďFor some guys, itís better for them when they leave.

ďYou definitely have to be a specific type of player to survive and succeed in Toronto. You are always in a pressure-type situation. You are recognized on the ice, going to the store, walking down the street. Itís part of playing in the mecca of hockey.

ďIf you can handle it, itís great. If you canít, it can be tough.Ē

McCabe cites examples like Jason Smith, Steve Sullivan and Larry Murphy as players who were more successful after leaving Toronto.

As for McCabe himself, he chuckles whenever he returns to the Air Canada Centre and is jeered, which will assuredly be the case when his Panthers meet the Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

In his previous visit to the ACC this season, McCabe scored two early goals only to see the Leafs come back for a 3-2 win on Jan. 5.

ďAt least Iím on the other team now, so I laugh when they boo me. It was tougher when they were doing it when I played for the Leafs.Ē

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca


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