Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Brighter days ahead for Bryan McCabe

OK, so you're Bryan McCabe.

Here's the bad news: Cliff Fletcher has called your bluff on the no-trade business, and now you're on the verge of heading out of town with your tail between your legs.

The worse news: You're going to the Florida Panthers, where hockey careers go to die.

But there is a bright side. And it's this: You, Bryan McCabe, are about to become an awesome hockey player.

That's right. Right now you may be a bumbling loser who everyone hates, but in mere weeks you'll rise from the ashes, reborn as an NHL superstar.

Yes, as per NHL rules, any player who isn't already a fan favorite (sorry, Wendel and Dougie) who is traded away from the Leafs will instantly become a far better player. That means you, Bryan.

The Canadian media will make sure it happens. After all, those "Bumbling Leafs screw up again!" stories aren't going to write themselves. So as soon as you're traded, you'll have an entire industry cheering your every minor success from now until the end of your career.

Don't believe me? Ask these guys.

Russ Courtnall

The myth: Russ Courtnall was a star, and trading him for John Kordic was one of the worst moves of all time.

The reality: Courtnall was a decent player with great speed, OK hands, generally lousy defensive skills and no grit. Was he a sniper? Not even close -- he never averaged even a point a game, despite playing in the top offensive era of all time. He had one 30-goal season, or half as many as Tom Fergus.

Overall, he was really just a very average player, and Kordic for Courtnall was a good trade.

Larry Murphy

The myth: Larry Murphy was a superstar in Pittsburgh and Detroit, but those dumb Leaf fans couldn't appreciate him and booed him out of town.

The reality: Murphy was great in Pittsburgh and Detroit. But he was just freaking terrible in Toronto. Why? No idea. But Toronto fans were right to boo Murphy.

Put it this way: the Leafs version of Murphy makes Bryan McCabe look like every other version of Murphy.

Vincent Damphousse

The myth: Damphousse had 1,200 career points. He was awesome.

The reality: Damphousse had 1,200 career points. He was pretty good.

Look, there's no arguing with 1,200 points. He did have some decent 90+ point seasons (unlike fellow superstar Courtnall). He also played for 47 years, which inflated his totals just a bit.

But do you ever notice how Damphousse is always mentioned in articles about the superstars the Leafs traded away, but never comes up in those other articles about how the Leafs never draft any star players? I wonder why that is...

Steve Sullivan

The myth: The Leafs thought he was too small to succeed in the NHL, but he went on to have seven straight 60+ seasons after leaving Toronto.

The reality: Hmm... OK, this one is pretty much true. Dammit. Let's just move on.

Kenny Jonsson

The myth: Jonsson was the best young defenceman in Toronto since Borje Salming. Trading him (as part of a package for Wendel Clark and Matthieu Schneider) was a terrible mistake, as he went on to become the star everyone knew he would be.

The reality: Jonsson had several good years with the Islanders. He was a decent all-around player. End of story. Not only wasn't he the next Borje Salming, he was barely the next Uwe Krupp.

Jonsson never played in an all-star game, was often hurt, and was out of the NHL after only ten years after being murdered by Gary Roberts during the 2004 playoffs. A fine career, sure, but nothing close to what you'd expect if you only went by his post-trade press clippings.

(Ironically, the dynamic young defenceman the Leafs gave up in that trade has been out of the NHL for four years, while the scraggly old one the Leafs got, Schneider, is still playing at a high level. For some reason Damien Cox keeps forgetting to mention this.)

And we haven't even got into the younger guys like Tuuka Rask and Brad Boyes. Shut it down, kids, you've already done more than enough! The hall of fame ceremony will be Monday.

So keep your chin up, Bryan. There are better days ahead. Go to Florida, play well enough to stay in the league, try not to score in your own net, and if it's not too much trouble score an occasional goal.

The Canadian media will take it from there.

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