Ex-Leaf McGill says Gardiner should be in NHL

With the Leafs struggling of late, the debate goes on as to whether the club should bring young...

With the Leafs struggling of late, the debate goes on as to whether the club should bring young Jake Gardiner up from the minors to shore up the defence. (Veronica Henri/QMI Agency)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:02 AM ET

Three decades before the heated Jake Gardiner NHL vs. AHL debate became one of the most polarizing topics in Toronto sports, the Maple Leafs faced similar tough decisions with three of their young defencemen.

Back in 1981-82, Leafs management opted to throw a trio of teenagers into the NHL wars rather than give them time to develop on the farm.

And with that one decision, it would be baptism by fire for Bob McGill, 19, Fred Boimistruck, 19, and Jim Benning, 18.

Upon further review, it proved to be, in the minds of many, one of the worst gaffs the Leafs organization ever made. Benning and Boimistruck never lived up anywhere near to expectations while McGill grinded his way to a blue-collar professional career.

“I think I was rushed,” Benning, now the assistant GM of the Boston Bruins, told the Toronto Sun in 2009, “But I had no choice. That’s the direction management went. I just had to go along.”


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