(This is part one of a three-part series. You can find part two, the forwards, right here. Part three, the front office, is here.)
Leafs blogger General Borschevsky recently unveiled his all-time Leafs dream team. And while its always nice to think back to the good times, my readers know that I sometimes have a little trouble staying positive when it comes to the Leafs.
So I got to thinking, what about the other side of the coin? What about those Leafs that we all loved to hate? Or, in some cases, just plain hated?
I humbly present my selections for the all-time Leaf loser squad: the players we'd all rather forget. As always, this list includes players from my roughly 25 years as a fan. Sadly, it wasn't very difficult to come up with a full roster.
Today, we'll focus on the defencemen and goalies.
Why we hate him: Murphy is the poster child for Leaf fan whipping boys. He's used as an example in the 50% of Leafs coverage that mentions how unreasonably demanding Toronto fans are (as opposed to the other 50% of Leaf coverage which mentioned how Leaf fans are gullible patsies who never boo anybody). Everyone now agrees that Murphy got a raw deal in Toronto from dumb fans who didn't recognize a superstar when they saw one.
There's one problem with that storyline: Murphy was absolutely terrible with the Leafs, and he deserved every boo he heard. For whatever reason Murphy never found his game in Toronto, playing the worst hockey of his otherwise excellent career. At the 1997 NHL All-Star game, the league invited Murphy to skate five strides behind all the players during the breakaway competition just so Leaf fans would feel at home.
Redeeming qualities: First ballot hall of famer. Won the Stanley Cup pretty much every year he wasn't playing for the Leafs.
Bryan Marchment (2003-04)
Why we hate him: Probably the dirtiest defenceman of all-time not named "Ulf", Marchment made a name for himself in the early 90s by going after the knees of Leaf players like Peter Zezel, Glenn Anderson and Wendel Clark. That last one turned out to be a mistake, since Clark eventually almost killed him during a brawl.
He ended up playing for the Leafs for a season, which normally is enough to wipe the slate clean. Not for this guy.
Redeeming qualities: Still pees himself whenever he walks by a Wendel Clark poster
Tom Kurvers (1989-91)
Why we hate him: Kurvers was acquired in an infamous deal by GM Floyd Smith that saw the Leafs trade their first round pick in the 1991 draft to the Devils. While most bad deals are only truly awful in hindsight, this trade was immediately labeled a disaster since Smith had apparently forgotten that a.) the Leafs sucked and b.) 1991 was the Eric Lindros draft year.
Once it became apparently that the Leafs had essentially traded the next NHL franchise player for a journeyman defenceman, Smith went into full-on firesale mode to ensure the Leafs would only finish second last. They did, but the Devils still used the pick to draft Scott Niedermayer, which Leaf fans then had to hear about every single time they played the Devils until he was mercifully murdered by Tie Domi in the 2001 playoffs.
Redeeming qualities: Not really his fault that Smith was a moron. Is apparently now a decent up-and-coming hockey executive. Was traded for Brian Bradley, who had a funny helment.
Andy Wozniewski (2005-2008)
Why we hate him: He was really, really bad at hockey. That wouldn't be that big a deal, except for the fact that he somehow wound up playing hockey for the Maple Leafs. Professionally. Which he was bad at.
Seriously, when you're a defenceman for the 2007 Leafs and you're known as "the bad one", you suck.
Redeeming qualities: Gave hope to a generation of children who dreamed of playing in the NHL even though they couldn't skate.
his no-mullet clause
Why we hate him: After several years as a fan favorite, McCabe's career went off the rails starting with his epic playoff meltdowns against the Flyers. He signed a massive contract in 2006 that included a now infamous no-movement clause, and almost immediately fell apart as a player. His mental lapses have become legendary, and at one point last year his defensive zone coverage was so awful that Paul Maurice briefly considered cutting down his ice time before going back to thinking up funny one-liners for the Toronto media to lap up.
When not scoring into his own net in overtime, Bryan enjoys whining to referees and telling the media that the last place Leafs are a really good team. There is at least a 10% chance that Cliff Fletcher is going to sneak into his house and kill him before training camp.
Redeeming qualities: Can be counted on to always make sure you don't feel so bad about your own haircut.
Jeff Finger (2008-present)
Why we hate him: Signed a four-year, $3.5 million contract during the 2008 off-season, which would be fine except that nobody had ever heard of him. This was the signing that made everyone stare at Fletcher with that "maybe Grampa should move into the assisted living facility" look. It was later revealed that the Leafs may have had him confused with Kurt Sauer. That last line was easily the funniest one in this whole post, which is sad because it's actually true.
Also, his last name resulted in eight million variations of the exact same "Fletcher gives the Finger" jokes in the first 24 hours after he signed, half of which appeared in the Toronto Sun.
Redeeming qualities: Technically hasn't played for the Leafs yet, meaning his reputation will never be better than it is right now.
Defencemen who also received consideration:
Aki Berg (somehow left off my original list), Garth Butcher, Calle Johansson, Pavel Kubina, Drake Berehowsky, Jim Korn
Defencemen who did not receive consideration:
Todd Gill - Look, I know some fans still blame him for the giveaway against the Hawks in 1989. Those fans are idiots, and you should ignore them. Gill was awesome. I'm not going to argue about this.
Raycroft not being scored on
Why we hate him: Like a lot of players on this list, Raycroft serves as an enduring testament to moronic reign of John Ferguson Jr. With Ed Belfour on the way out of town, Ferguson decided to deal the organization's top prospect, Tukka Rask, to the Bruins for Raycroft in 2006. The deal seemed sketchy at the time, looked bad during the season and finally assumed full-fledged disaster status as Raycroft floundered.
Raycroft hit rock bottom during the 2007 season finale against the Habs. With a playoff spot on the line, he was pulled after giving up three soft goals and then told the media he was happy with how he'd played. The next year, he engaged in a battle for the starter's job with Vesa Toskala that was roughly as competitive as the Clark-Fetisov fight. He spent the rest of the year sitting on the bench with a baseball cap pulled down to his waist.
Redeeming qualities: Doesn't play for the Leafs anymore.
Why we hate him: Clemmensen is one of the rare players who've managed to annoy Leaf fans both before and after arriving in Toronto. He first made a name for himself on the final day of the 2006-07 season, when as a New Jersey Devil he had a chance to put the Leafs in the playoffs by beating the Islanders. In a dramatic shootout, Clemmensen chose to debut his patented "stand completely still while everyone scores on you" move, and the Leafs were eliminated.
His demonstrated ability to torpedo the Leafs playoff hopes made him irresistible to John Ferguson Jr, who signed him to a minor league deal that presumably included a no-trade clause. Having already destroyed the Leafs' past, Clemmensen set to work on the future as a Marlie by somehow convincing head coach Greg Gilbert to nail top prospect Justin Pogge to the bench for the entire playoff run.
Redeeming qualities: Appeared in three games for the Leafs, winning one. Which is one whole game more than you or I have won.
Goalies who also received consideration:
Curtis Joseph (now redeemed), Mikhael Tellqvist, Trevor Kidd
Goalies who did not receive consideration:
Allan Bester. Yes, yes, I know, the Momesso goal in 1991. Believe me, I know, I was there. But Bester stood on his head for some truly terrible Leaf teams in the 1980s. He doesn't deserve scorn, he deserves a medal.