The Weekend Warrior

By Randy Nicholson
Another in a series of weekly articles designed to summarize activities in Leafland during the previous 7 days – with some personal observations, commentary, prospect updates and fun thrown in for good measure.

Pat’s Back: Pat Quinn returned to the Toronto area this week for a charity golf tournament and was heard complaining bitterly about the unwelcome influence of New York basketball types upon his beloved sport… frankly its great to see Mr. Quinn feeling so ornery and let’s hope that he can succeed in transferring this attitude to the troops in September… in organizational news, Quinn revealed that a new Director of Scouting and a 2nd Assistant Coach should be in place by the end of next week… former Flames boss, Al Coates, is no longer in the running for the front office position as he has already accepted a posting with the New York Rangers… John Anderson and Stan Smyl are thought to be front runners for the vacant coaching position…

Making a Point: Many Toronto observers (including this one) have noted that the team’s powerplay is in dire need of a productive point man… the prevailing theory that Paul Coffey would skate into this role was never realized due to Leaf concerns regarding Paul’s ability to perform in even strength situations and because the Bruins were willing to offer a 2 year guarantee at a substantial annual stipend… clearly, Bryan Berard will not be available to the team when camp opens in September (see Berard injury update below), there are only limited quarterbacking options on the existing roster and virtually none left in the free agent market… Maple Leaf executive Bill Watters appeared on Toronto’s all sports radio station (The FAN 590) this week and indicated that the team was actively trying to address this problem… however, he disputed the notion that the situation is as urgent as some say that it is… a name that often crops up in connection to the Leafs is that of Adrian Aucoin… Aucoin has prototypical NHL size (6-1 / 215), is considered to be adequate defensively and, most importantly, fires rockets from the point… I don’t know what it would take to pry this player away from Vancouver but the Leafs may soon be in a position to move a few surplus players that would help the rebuilding Canucks…

Leafs Trivia I: If the Maple Leafs had decided to bring Paul Coffey on board for the 2000/2001 season, they would have been adding a former 3 time Norris Trophy winner (Best Defenseman) to the roster… three other former Norris winners have skated for the blue and white at some time in their careers… one was a Toronto draftee and the remaining two were acquired in trades… name all three players (answer below Whatever happened to)…

Leafs Trivia II: Complete this deal… Bill Derlago to Boston on October 11, 1985 in exchange for… (answer below Trivia I answer)…

Who am I: I joined the Maple Leafs directly from the Toronto Marlborough juniors in 1964/1965 and went on to patrol the right side with distinction for 15 seasons… I wore 3 different sweater numbers during my tenure with the Leafs – the last of which was one of the two that are no officially retired by the club… I hold the Maple Leafs’ record for 20 goal seasons with a career total of eleven… (answer below Trivia II answer)…

Former scout rejoins Leaf Organization: After losing a couple of key individuals from the Hockey Department in recent weeks, the Leafs have finally stopped the bleeding by adding Garth Malarchuk to the team’s amateur scouting staff… Malarchuk was actually one of Cliff Fletcher’s initial hires when he first set out to reverse the front office decay that had set in during the Harold Ballard years at Maple Leaf Gardens… after several years of productive work, Garth left the club in order to pursue a coaching opportunity in junior hockey with the Kelowna Rockets of the Western League… Malarchuk is highly regarded in hockey circles and his decision to re-join the organization is very positive news for the Maple Leafs…

Bryan Berard update: Bryan continues to work out in preparation for an eventual return to NHL duty with the Maple Leafs… with respect to the level of sight in his damaged eye, little has changed since season’s end – in fact, little change had been expected… the concern during the next several months will involve keeping the repaired retina attached and the damaged eye free of cataracts / scar tissue while gradually increasing its ability to perceive light and motion… there is no question that this is going to be a long slow process at best… I’m certain that the thoughts and prayers of Leaf fans everywhere will travel with Berard at every stage of this journey… Godspeed Bryan… we’re all hoping see you back in blue and white someday soon…

Prospect thumbnail – Petr Svoboda D: Petr was signed to his first pro contract by the Leafs earlier this summer… this young Czech defender has recently become one of the most talked about players in the system… the potential emergence of young players like Svoboda (along with Yakushin, Dempsey and others) is most often given as the reason that the Maple Leafs haven’t pursued any defensive help in this year’s free agent market… while it is doubtful that any rookie could single handedly transform the team’s powerplay from a weakness to a strength, impartial hockey people such as former National Team and Canuck boss Tom Renney have noted that Petr possesses “star” potential… Svoboda certainly has the size (6-3/200) and the mobility to become a solid top-4 rearguard in the NHL… he has also demonstrated the sort of intelligence and poise during league and international play that has drawn ready comparisons to current Leaf and fellow countryman Tomas Kaberle… it will be interesting to watch Svoboda’s performance at rookie camp and then early in the main training camp in order to see if he can duplicate the pleasant surprise delivered by Kaberle 2 seasons back…

Whatever happened to: “Dangerous” Dan Daoust…

Trivia I answer: Red Kelly, the first Norris winner in 1954, was obtained from the Red Wings on February 10, 1960 in exchange for Marc Reaume… Pierre Pilote, the Norris winner in 1963, 1964 & 1965, was obtained from the Blackhawks on May 23, 1968 in exchange for Jim Pappin… Randy Carlyle was taken by the Leafs in the 2nd Round of the 1976 Draft (interestingly, Carlyle had an outstanding track record in junior hockey and should have been chosen much earlier but was widely believed to have already signed with the Cincinnati Stingers of the WHA at the time) and was subsequently traded along with George Ferguson to Pittsburgh in exchange for Dave Burrows on June 14, 1978… Carlyle would later capture the Norris Trophy while playing with the Penguins in 1981…

Trivia II answer: Tom Fergus… the former Peterborough Pete who scored 20+ goals on 3 occasions while with the Bruins and then did so three more times after joining the Maple Leafs…

Who am I answer: Ron Ellis, who was certainly one of the best and most consistent Maple Leaf players during the 60’s and 70’s… Ron was asked by Leaf great Ace Bailey to wear the number 6 sweater that Toronto had earlier retired following the injury that ended Bailey’s playing career…