Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Nightmare Team: Forwards

We continue our trip down miserable memory lane with the Leafs least-loved forwards. If you missed part one, be sure to check out our list of defence and goalies. Part three, the front office, can be found here.


SKATE! Why isn't he skating?
This is not a photograph. It's an
actual video clip of Allison skating
as fast as he can.
Jason Allison (2005-06)

Why we hate him: Allison was one of those signings that symbolized the post-lockout vision of John Ferguson Jr., who went for big and slow when everyone else in the NHL was going for speed and skill. He looked brutal in the NHL's first ever shootout against Ottawa on opening night, coming in so slowly that the zamboni had to come out to reflood the ice half way through his shot. Yes, that's right, Leaf fans actually turned on a player after one game.

Like every other player ever acquired by Ferguson, Allison spent one year with the Leafs and then never played in the NHL again.

Redeeming qualities: He was actually pretty productive, with 60 points in 66 games. He had an incentive-laden deal and would have earned a big bonus, but he hurt himself at the end of the year jumping into a fight to help a teammate, something no Leaf has done since.

Glenn Anderson (1991-94)

Why we hate him: Anderson was part of the big Grant Fuhr trade the kicked off the Fletcher era for the Leafs in 1991. He quickly settled into a spot on the first line and was reasonably productive. But he'll be forever remembered for taking probably the worst penalty in Leafs history, when he drilled Rob Blake into the end boards Target ad with seconds left in regulation of game six against the Kings.

That earned him a seat in the penalty box, where had a good view of the infamous Kerry Fraser whistle-choke and Gretzky's game-winning goal. It's been empirically proven that The Penalty changed the course of human history and cost the Leafs multiple Stanley Cups.

Fun bonus fact: It was the only body check Anderson threw in his entire career.

Redeeming qualities: Scored the OT winner in game five against the Kings. Should probably be in the Hall of Fame. Was dealt for Mike Gartner in arguably the greatest moustache-for-moustache trade of all time.

Dmitri Khristich (1999-00)

Why we hate him: After winning the lottery in an arbitration hearing against the Bruins, Khristich was traded to the Maple Leafs for a draft pick in 1999. He turned out to be injury-prone, bad in the dressing room, and not very good at playing hockey. Other than that, the move worked out really well.

Redeeming qualities: Was dealt to the Caps for a mid-round pick that turned out to be Brendan Bell, which years later would allow the Leafs to briefly re-acquire Yanic Perrault for the seventeenth time.

What up Curly?
He'll be played in the
movie by Ian Ziering.
Mike Craig (1994-97)

Why we hate him: Craig was signed as a restricted free agent back when the league had a complicated compensation system. The Stars asked for Kenny Jonsson, which would have been a disaster because then Fletcher couldn't have made the Jonsson/Clark/ Schneider/Luongo trade and Damien Cox would have had nothing to write about for ten years.

The arbitrator ended up choosing the Leafs offer, which still cost them the best checking center they ever had in Peter Zezel, not to mention future welterweight Grant Marshall. Coming off back-to-back appearances in the conference finals, this move was the first dent in Cliff Fletcher's aura of invincibility.

Redeeming qualities: Was rocking a sweet perm.

Benoit Hogue (1995-96)

Why we hate him: After three straight 30+ goal season, the Leafs traded for Hogue in time for the 1995 playoffs. But Hogue went all Senator-ish on us, being held pointless during a seven-game loss to the Hawks. The Leafs wouldn't win another playoff series for four years.

Redeeming qualities: Was eventually traded for Dave Gagner, which is notable because absolutely nobody actually remembers he once played for the Leafs.

Owen Nolan (2003-04)

Why we hate him: Nolan cost the Leafs a freaking ransom when he came over from the Sharks at the 2003 deadline, including future captain Alyn McCauley, Brad Boyes and a first round pick. That investment got the Leafs a grand total of zero goals and two assists in a first-round playoff loss to the Flyers. In 2003-04 Nolan had an unproductive regular season and then hurt his knee and missed the entire playoff run.

During the lockout it was revealed that Nolan has a unique clause in his contract that would see him get paid even if the entire season was cancelled. This clause, and his lingering knee injury, lead to a lengthy courtroom battle with the Leafs over how much the club owed him. They eventually settled, with rumors of a big payout for Nolan.

Redeeming qualities: Dropped the infamous "boo hoo" bomb on the Senators after the Flu Game, a moment that still drives Ottawa fans crazy.

Robert Reichel (2001-04)

Why we hate him: Reichel had been playing in Europe for two years when the Leafs decided to trade for his rights. The deal with the Coyotes cost the Leafs defenceman Danny Markov, who was rumored to be an alcoholic, was certifiably insane and happened to be completely awesome.

Like absolutely every other forward acquired by the Leafs via trade in the past ten years, Reichel was terrible. His most impressive stat was probably his grand total of two goals scored in 37 playoff games for the Leafs. He was probably best known for scoring the shootout goal that beat Canada in the 1998 Nagano Olympics. When its a big game, you can always count on Reichel to help make sure the team wearing the maple leaf loses.

Redeeming qualities: During the 2002 playoff run, he was memorably removed from a game against the Islanders before the opening faceoff after the Leafs submitted an incorrect lineup card. That turned out to be the best game he ever played as a Leaf.

Two heads are better than one
Raise your hand if you want to play
with a guy who's ten times better
than you
Jonas Hoglund (1999-03)

Why we hate him: Hoglund was a cheap free agent signing in 1999 who had a productive stint with the Leafs, including a 29 goal season on 1999-00. Unfortunately for him, he wound up spending a lot of time on Mats Sundin's line, which means Leaf fans hate him. Let me explain.

One of the enduring legacies of Sundin's time in Toronto is the accepted fact that he never had any good linemates to play with. And its absolutely true (as long as you ignore Mogilny, Roberts, Gartner, Gilmour, Clark, Andreychuk, etc). And somehow along the way, Jonas Hoglund became the poster child for crappy Sundin linemates.

If you want to have fun with a Leaf fan, try this: casually mention the word "Sundin" and "linemates" in the same sentence, and time how long they can last before starting to complain about Jonas Hoglund. The current record is seven seconds.

Redeeming qualities: Had the exact same smug look on his face in every photo of him ever taken.

Jason Blake (2007 - present)

Why we hate him: In yet another moment of Ferguson brilliance, Blake signed a ridiculous contract as a free agent and was pencilled into a first line spot next to Mats Sundin. Then he found out he had cancer. Then Leaf fans found out he had no hands.

Blake spent all of last season firing weak wrist shots into goalies' chests from 40 feet out. He seems to have lost several steps and is clearly on the downside of what was already a pretty average career. Did I mention he's under contract for four more years, at which point he'll be 38?

Redeeming qualities: It's tough to hate a guy with cancer. Tough, but not impossible.

Shayne Corson (2000-03)

Why we hate him: Literally abandoned the team during the 2003 playoffs, citing mysterious medical issues. Once was suspended for a game seven for trying to kick somebody in the head. His sister was married to Darcy Tucker, which was probably just awkward.

Redeeming qualities: His departure from the team may have been due to legitimate anxiety disorder. Also, kicking somebody in the head during a hockey fight is kind of funny when you think about it.

Kyle Wellwood (2004-2008)

Why we hate him: He showed flashes of brilliance as a rookie, confusing Leaf fans who didn't remember what a "prospect" was. Then he got hurt. Then he got lazy. Then he got fat. Then he let somebody take this photo. The end.

Because this is the Leafs, Wellwood is virtually guaranteed to light it up in Vancouver and haunt Toronto for years a la Steve Sullivan.

Redeeming qualities: Makes an adorable giggling sound when you poke him in the stomach.

Forwards who also received consideration:
Sergio Momesso, Jeff O'Neill, Marius Czerkawski, Jamie Baker, Nathan Perrot, Mike Krushelnyski

Forwards who did not receive consideration:
Eric Lindros - Yes, he was another Ferguson failure. But Lindros gets a pass because there's no question that he always wanted to be a Leaf, and even took a hometown discount to do it. Besides, I don't believe in kicking a guy when he's down. And as hockey fans have come to learn, Eric Lindros is always down.

(To those of you paying attention: Yes, that's only 11 forwards. Let's just say we're keeping a spot open on the first line for a certain indecisive Swede.)


  1. When its a big game, you can always count on Reichel to help make sure the team wearing the maple leaf loses.

    Bam. Fucking Reichel.

    Also, Khristich played with Mats too.

    Redeeming quality of Shayne Corson: Without his craziness (sorry, anxiety disorder) we would never have seen Darcy Tucker leap into the senators' bench.

    Another killer post.

  2. Darby Hendrickson. D-a-r-b-y. Hendrickson. Him and Mike Craig had pretty similar stats in 1996-7.
    In 65 games Craig had 7G, 13A, 20 Points and was an astounding minus - 20.
    Darby, the same year, in 64 games had 11G, 6A, 17 Points, and was also an astounding minus - 20.
    Craig went to the IHL to re-invent his hairdo in 1997-8, meanwhile Hendrickson played 80 games that year as a Leaf with even worse stats: 8G, 4A, 12 Points, and yet another tragically astounding minus - 20!
    Two seasons, two players, 209 games, an incredible minus - 60!
    I never thought I could hate a Leaf until Darby Hendrickson and Mike Craig. They'd be wearing the "A"s on my Nightmare Team.
    Owen Nolan for me is like Kirk Muller. A lot of things went wrong there. Wish it had gone differently.
    Great post, as always. Cheers again.

  3. Owen Nolan.
    Redeeming Quality: The mere mention of his name is enough to drive Bill Watters speechless with rage. It's the only time Watters is bearable.

  4. Another highlight reel write-up.

    Any room on the nightmare taxi squad for Brian Bradley? No goals in his first season as a Leaf, 10 the next year and then chases 50 with the Lghtning...or John Cullen of the glass-jaw no hands fame...I just realized I could go on for pages: Marian Statsny, Paul Higgins, Derek King (an 83 year old woman on a liquid diet, suffering from vertigo and dependent on a walker could knock him off the puck) Mike Bullard, Rob Pearson, Zedenek Nedved, Lonny Bohonos, Steve Bancroft....

  5. This post, and indeed the entire blog, are f'in brilliant. Its really helping me deal with the past thirty or so years of my life as a Leaf fan.

    The front office could be a challenge. It is pretty short list of people who shouldn't be on that list. Can't wait.

    Anthony in Whitehorse

  6. I pretty much gave up on including Leaf prospects who didn't pan out. After the first dozen, I don't even hate those guys anymore. I just assume they're going to be brutal. Remember Brandon Convery? Sean Haggerty? Ugh.

    Darby Hendrickson - I didn't know anybody hated him. He definitely wasn't very good, but the Leafs must have liked him since they re-acquired him about three days after thei dealt him to the Islanders.

    Steve Bancroft - Now that's going deep into the archives. Did he ever even play in Toronto?

  7. my most memorable moment of Jason Allison was standing up in the middle of the Ottawa Don Cherry's restaurant during a Sens/Leafs game and screaming "MY GRANDMOTHER CAN SKATE FASTER THAN YOU YOU USELESS TIT" after Wade fricken Redden beat him in a foot race.

  8. ok, here i go, bear with me...

    it is pretty amazing that allison, as awful as he was, put up 60 points in 66 games, and was never seen in the NHL again.

    i actually remember how intensely happy i was when the leafs landed khristich...what a bum.

    for some reason, my brother adored mike craig. whenever we'd play hockey, he would say he'd shoot low like mike craig. you know, for rebounds. it's no wonder we never made it off our street.

    my buddies in new york played in a beer league tournament with benoit hogue a few weeks ago. he absolutely ripped shit up, and one of the guys who lined up with him told him it was an "honour" to be playing with him. benoit freakin hogue.

    at the time, i thought the nolan trade was a good one. we were on the cusp, and had arguably one of our best teams ever. and i'll never forget his first game with toronto. it was against vancouver and he potted 2 goals that night. shame how it ended, but that flu game against ottawa was one of the greatest games ever, as was his interview.

    remember reichel's penalty shot against roman cechmanek? what a fucking idiot.

    i saw jonas hoglund score a hat-trick against the habs in montreal. sundin linked him each time. and i'm not going to get into the whole linemates thing and sundin because, well, we'll be here forever.

    jason blake, at $4 million, put up exactly the type of numbers (50 odd points) that are expected of a guy who makes that type of money. he'll score a few more goals this year and have a bounce back season, just for you.

    corson quit on the team in the playoffs, and that's all you ever need to know about him.

    and i will miss kyle. hopefully he can get his shit together.

    and sean, not even YOU would ever dare to put sundin on this list...

  9. and sean, not even YOU would ever dare to put sundin on this list...

    The man loves Todd Gill! He is a loose cannon capable of anything.

  10. at the time, i thought the nolan trade was a good one.

    Me too, actually. I was behind Nolan, even through the injuries, right up until he took the team to court.

    Sundin goes on the list if he signs in Montreal. If its Vancouver, we'll see. If he retires, we'll promote one of the black aces -- probably Momesso.

  11. Also, while being an unfortunate Leaf, Allison's beard rivaled that of Niedermayer.

  12. The man loves Todd Gill!

    Alright, that's the last one of those you get. I will not have my namesake (and the man who once bought my GF a shot) dragged through the mud any longer.

    As to Mike Craig, I knew someone who was hit on by him in a bar. He said something to the effect of "You know who I am, I know you want me." She said "Who are you?"

    The Warriner story is much better, but will wait until you post some WARRINER-RELATED CONTENT.

    Awesome work, as usual. Loved it.

  13. Hands down for me ... Rob Pearson.

    He was like, well, Rob Brown, except without the scoring touch. Pearson thought he could be a Daoust like pest, but instead was more of an Avery like moron, again without the scoring touch. He never once had an intelligent look on his face. And the mullet...err hockey hair. Wow.

  14. Shane...

    I loved Rob Pearson. Ironically, though, I can't actually disagree with anything you wrote.

    Also, he was lazy on the backcheck leading to Jeff Brown's OT winner in game two of the 1993 series. Still, for some reason the idea of a big, slow guy with no hands and a career 0-142 fight record appealed to me back then.

    Favorite random Rob Pearson moment: The game at the old Chicago Stadium when a linesman who was taking him off the ice almost threw him down the stairs that lead to the dressing room.

  15. Sundin goes on the list if he signs in Montreal. If its Vancouver, we'll see.

    Well, Vancouver would make sense--somebody has to cut up Kyle Wellwood's "pasketti" into bite sized pieces for him.

  16. I know this is a really, really old thread, but at the risk of seeming like a complete idiot, why Jamie Baker? His series-winning goal in the 1993-94 playoffs was against Detroit, not Toronto.

  17. Re: Baker.

    He was traded for Todd Gill, and he was hyped as the replacement for Peter Zezel. Since those are two of my all-time favorites, and since I hold grudges irrationally, he's on the list.