Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: A Maple Leafs year in review

Jan. 22 - John Ferguson Jr. is fired. After being informed of the decision, Ferguson nods quietly, adjust his suit, offers a firm handshake to everyone in the room, and then spends the next 45 minutes pulling on the exit door marked "Push".

Jan. 23 - Waking up to the news that Cliff Fletcher has been named interim GM, Toronto sports fans joke that who's next, Cito Gaston and Don Matthews?

Feb. 5 - The Leafs lose 8-0 to the Panthers at home. "If it had got to 9-0," says coach Paul Maurice, "I was thinking about actually raising my voice at somebody."

Feb. 24 - Mats Sundin announces that he will not waive his no-trade clause, telling the media that "I have never believed in the concept of a rental player. It is my belief that winning the Stanley Cup is the greatest thing you can achieve in hockey but for me, in order to appreciate it you have to have been part of the entire journey and that means October through June".

Although nobody gives it much thought at the time, in hindsight it was probably noteworthy that Sundin read the entire statement in a sarcastic Homer Simpson voice.

Feb. 26 - Trade deadline day. While Fletcher can't manage to deal any of the "Muskoka Five", he does manage to make a pair of deals with Florida. In one deal that turns out to be a steal for the Leafs, he manages to get a draft pick from the Panthers in exchange for a player who'll likely never record another point in the NHL. He also trades them Chad Kilger.

March 17 - Vesa Toskala lets in a 180-foot goal against the Islanders, marking the only time this year that he managed to handle a long shot without kicking out a huge rebound.

April 3 - In an otherwise meaningless late-season game, Mark Bell destroys Daniel Alfredsson with an open ice hit. While nobody likes to see a grown man writhing on the ground in agony, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch does eventually regain his composure and return to his seat.

April 23 - Brian Burke announces that he will stay on as GM in Anaheim through the remaineder of his contract. Mats Sundin comments "Well, he wouldn't be saying it if it wasn't true."

May 7 - Paul Maurice is fired. Upon hearing the news, Maurice retreats to his office and packs up his belongings: some family photos, a few old files, and 164 unused timeouts.

June 10 - Ron Wilson is hired as the Leafs new coach. He promises that his team will work hard, be defensively responsible and forecheck relentlessly. In related news, Jason Blake posts his resume on

June 19 - Fletcher raises a few eyebrows when he trades a third round draft pick for Jamal Mayers. Fletcher explains the deal by saying "We have a team of guys who are a little bit on the small side and can sometimes be intimidated, and we need somebody to protect them from no-talent thugs who might try to hurt them. Mainly Ryan Hollweg in practice."

June 20 - Cliff Fletcher trades up to select Luke Schenn with the fifth overall pick of the NHL draft. Fletcher says he was impressed by Schenn's maturity, his defensive presence, and the enormous star that lit the entire sky the night he was born.

June 25 - The Leafs buy out Darcy Tucker. Fighting through tears, a devastated Tucker says "Well, look on the bright side, at least I never have to play with Andrew Raycroft again."

June 27 - The Leafs waive Raycroft and Kyle Wellwood, two players who both fell out of favor due to their frequent association with the phrase "top shelf where momma keeps the peanut butter".

July 1 - The Leafs surprise many on the first day of unrestricted free agency by signing Jeff Finger to a $14M contract. While many experts feel the Leafs have overpaid, the signing receives unanimous approval from the nation's pun headline writers.

Aug. 14 - Bryan McCabe reportedly agrees to waive his no-trade clause, on the strict condition that he be dealt to one of the 28 or 29 very best teams in the league.

Sept. 19 - The Leafs open training camp. Ron Wilson is asked whether he thinks the Leafs can compete with teams like the Senators, or whether they will be embarrassingly pathetic, and replies "yes".

Sept. 25 - Leafs co-owner Larry Tanenbaum causes a minor controversy when he gives an obviously wrong answer to a hypothetical question about winning the Stanley Cup. The hypothetical question is "What's the first thing you should do to win a Cup", and Tanenbaum fails to correctly answer "Resign".

Oct. 2 - Ian White shakes hands with Wendel Clark at an off-ice function. The next day, a confused White wakes up sporting a full moustache. Attempts to shave it off result in his razor blade starting to bleed.

Oct. 17 - The Canucks waive Kyle Wellwood, who goes unclaimed. "Let's face it," says Canucks GM Mike Gillis, "We're not going to get anywhere building this team around out-of-shape former Leaf centers."

Oct. 23 - In a highlight reel hit, the Bruins' Milan Lucic drives Mike Van Ryn through the glass. Van Ryn later says "When I first heard the sound of glass shattering, I just assumed somebody had lightly nudged Carlo Colaiacovo."

Nov. 22 - The Leafs honor Wendel Clark. After a video tribute and an emotional speech, the Leafs unveil a banner which Clark promptly uppercuts into the rafters.

Nov. 24 - The Leafs trade Colaiacovo and Alex Steen for Lee Stempniak. Fletcher explains "Any time you can trade two guys who usually do nothing for one guy who always does nothing, you have to make that deal."

Nov 28 - On Brian Burke's first day on the job as the Leafs' new GM, Richard Peddie peeks his head in the door to ask if there's anything he can help with. Burke calmly pulls a .357 Magnum from the top drawer of his desk, shoots Peddie in the chest without looking up, and then says "no, but thanks for asking".

Dec. 4 - While looking in the mirror, Ian White realizes that each hair in his moustache has begun growing its own moustache

Dec. 22 - Justin Pogge makes his debut and looks good in a 6-2 win. Curtis Joseph and Vesa Toskala try to figure out why every time the other team takes a shot, the ensuing faceoff is in the offensive zone instead of center ice.

Dec. 25 - Luke Schenn gets the same Christmas gifts he gets every year: gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Dec. 30 - Curtis Joseph records his first win of the season. While he appreciates the Leafs recognizing his career milestone with a scoreboard message, he wishes they had chosen better wording than "Curtis, congratulations on your 450th (and final) career win!"

Jan. 1, 2009 - Ian White's moustache begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time.


  1. As a minor addendum to November 28:

    Seconds after being hurled backward by the force of the blast, mimetic poly-alloy fills the hole in Peddie's chest.

  2. "Nov. 24 - The Leafs trade Colaiacovo and Alex Steen for Lee Stempniak. Fletcher explains "Any time you can trade two guys who usually do nothing for one guy who always does nothing, you have to make that deal."

    That line is gold!

    happy new years!

  3. Awesome. Lots of funny stuff. June 27th gets a standing ovation.