Monday, April 13, 2009

Top 10 Leafs moments of 2008-09

While General Borschevsky largely beat me to the punch on this with his excellent rundown of The Top Ten Leaf Games of the Year, I'm taking a slightly different approach with my list. The idea here is to capture the ten best moments on the Leafs season.

A note: While I haven't limited the list to just on-ice plays, I've only included moments that Leafs fans could have actually witnessed. So things like "Burke accepts GM's job" or "Leafs sign Tyler Bozak" or "somebody tells Damien Cox to start doing video blogs or he's fired" won't be on the list.

#10 - Schenn destroys Vermette

This was one of the first signs that the Leafs really had something in Luke Schenn. Well, that and the way all the statues in Toronto cried tears of blood when he was drafted.

The Senators later traded Vermette for violating the team's strict "never be involved in any physical contact" rule.

#9 - Moore's stickless breakaway

Even though they didn't score, two things about this Dominic Moore "breakaway" get it a spot on the list. First, it was something I'd never seen before in 25+ years as a hockey fans. And second, it may have helped convince the Sabres that it would be a good idea to trade a high draft pick for Dominic Moore. Oops.

Hey, speaking of inanimate objects being brilliantly kicked around...

#8 - Wilson vs Berger

Leaf fans threw in the towel on Berger earlier in the year after he wrote a bizarre blog post insulting fans and bragging about how much money he makes. But fans got the last laugh when Berger was eviscerated by Ron Wilson in a post-game press conference for suggesting that late season Leafs games didn't matter.

On the subject of one-sided fights..

#7 - Mayers vs Kotsopoulos

Everyone remembers Tom Kotsopoulos' attempted murder on Mike Van Ryn. In the next game between the two teams, the only question was which Leaf would be first in line for payback. Jamal Mayers won the race, narrowly beating out Brad May who decided to beat up the next Canadien who made eye contact with him instead.

Later that same game...

#6 - Grabovski flips off Habs fans

I'm on record as not being a fan of Grabosvki's whole "hold me back" routine, which ended with him getting a three-game suspension for his tickle-fight with a linesman. That's not the moment I'm recognizing here.

But all that said, his flip off to Habs fans gets funnier every time you see it. This would seem bush league if anyone else did it, but Grabovski already seems like such an annoying little dink that it somehow ends up being high comedy.

Incidentally, Grabovski later explained that he held up two fingers at Habs fans to signal how many of their players would later be found to be palling around with mobsters.

#5 - Hagman's shift

Fall down, get hit in the face with the puck, deke out entire team, score. Not sure what the big deal was, actually, since I do two of those things pretty much every shift I take.

Bonus points for completely no-selling the celebration. If that had been Jason Blake, he'd still be fist-pumping like a teenage boy who just got internet access for the first time.

#4 - Schenn destroys Malkin

Here's a few tips about playing against Luke Schenn:

1. Keep your head up.
2. If you fail to follow rule #1, check to see if you're still alive.
3. If so, warn your teammates not to try to fight Luke Schenn because he will kill them.

Malkin, needless to say, goes 0-for-3.

Luke Schenn's left hand is the second worst thing to ever happen to a Kennedy's skull.

#3 - Fans say "thank you" to Mats Sundin

My thoughts on Sundin are well known to readers. But it can still be said that the Leafs handled his return perfectly, and this ovation was as memorable as it was well-deserved.

I can't remember whether the Leafs won that night. I must have blocked it out for some reason.

#2 - Curtis Joseph's final stand

In a Leafs season that was about watching for signs of a future, it was nice to have a chance to say an on-ice goodbye to one of most important players in recent franchise history. We got that chance during the bizarre game against the Caps that saw Curtis Joseph play six minutes, make 87 saves, punch Alex Ovechkin in the throat, and score the shootout winner.

Years from now, we will all agree to pretend this was Cujo's final appearance with the Leafs.

#1 - Wendel Clark's banner is raised

This one probably won't come as much of a surprise to anyone since as you may know, I kind of like Wendel Clark.

What? No, don't be silly man, I'm just having some trouble with a contact lens. Anyone have a tissue?

Honorable mentions: The Gilmour ceremony, Brad May's 1000th game, Nikolai Kulemin scoring his first NHL goal on a nice backhand-forehand move that we'd later learn was the only one he has, Johnny Mitchell single-handedly beating the Rangers, Brian Burke watching a fight with binoculars, and the three dozen ridiculous highlight reel goals the Leafs managed to score in shootouts without ever actually winning one.


  1. Great list, and thanks for using my clips for at around half of the vids. :D

  2. Great list, DGB.

    Wilson on Berger was epic.

    Schenn's hit on Malkin, and the poundage he then laid on Kennedy was epic.

    Mayers became a Toronto Maple Leaf the night he stepped up for Van Ryn, when he was told not to fight. What a rudey.

    Grabs' play against the Habs, and the hatred they kept showing him, was a lot of fun to watch.

    Hagman: great freakin' signing.

    And, regarding moment number three on your list, the Leafs lost that night. Sundin scored the winner. In the shootout. Backhand. Stick side. Money. What a return.

    Looking forward to the off-season here at DGB. I'm sure it will not disappoint. Cheers, mate.

  3. When Moore went on his soccer-like breakaway I hoped it would be played on every hockey highlight show in order for his value to go up. Also I was hoping we wouldn't score cause I never really liked the guy.

    Also the Sundin welcome back extended to the first star selection, for scoring the winning goal in the shootout. Moment of the year for me.

  4. Great list but definitely missing a certain Gordie Howe Hat Trick

  5. Awesome. Moore's stickless beakaway is wicked. I just watched it again 5 more times. I wish Blake had scored on that.

    Hagman's goal is also a great. Lookin' forward to seeing more of that next year.

    About Grabbo's moment: his flip off to Habs fans gets funnier every time you see itYes. That is true. At first I didn't like it but everyday I think it's more amazing then the day before. I would now actually put it ahead of the Sundin game and make it my number 1.

    Cheers, DGB.

  6. I thought you might have saved this post to kick off optimism week. Very much looking forward to the positive summaries of the roster. Also there may actually be a few things to be genuinely optimistic about.

  7. Someone should email Schenns video to the rest of the league so that they know who to watch out for when they face us. This is a really great top ten list. You can post this to our site and then link back to your site. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

  8. This is a great entry! Very entertaining. I loved it.

  9. "Luke Schenn's left hand is the second worst thing to ever happen to a Kennedy's skull."

    Classic... possibly the funniest thing you've written.

  10. Great post DGB. I'd probably have Sundin's return at number 1, but to each their own.

    You're right about Grabs - his Richard Nixon gets funnier every time I watch it.

    This list is a good reminder that while making the playoffs and actually having a shot at the cup would be frickin' nice, the season was still pretty high on drama and entertainment. If we're truly at the bottom, and things can only go up, I think we're in for some quality entertainment over the next few years.

  11. Love the tips about playing against Schenn