that apostrophe is unnecessary?
Apparently not. But after finding out that the night was actually intended to honor various Leaf teams and players of the 1990s, I was still excited. After all, there may not be a Leaf fan on the planet who's spent more time chronicling the various highlights of the previous decade.
For those that missed it: the Leafs honored the 90s by having the current roster wear jerseys of 20 different ex-Leafs during the pre-game warmup. They also brought out Felix Potvin, Bill Berg and Mark Osborne to drop the puck.
And while I can't find a full list of the 20 Leafs who were "honored" during the warmup, the list was apparently based on the results of a poll on mapleleafs.com. And while the fan participation angle is nice, the actual poll was... well, bizarre. Have a look.
Can anyone figure out the point behind dividing up the players that way? I suppose they wanted to avoid having fans vote en masse for the players from the 1993 team because... well, I'm not actually sure why that would be a problem, but it's the best guess I can come up with.
But have a look at group three for the forwards -- you're telling me that only two of Sundin, Andreychuk and Borschevsky can be part of the Leafs all 90s teams? Really?
And it gets worse: check out groups four and five. Yes, fans, you get not one but two chances to vote for Todd Warriner, Mike Johnson and Freddy Modin!
And while guys like Eddie Olcyzk, Kirk Muller and Darcy Tucker didn't even make the voting list, we did get beloved former Leafs such as Darby Hendrickson and Mike Craig. I'm amazed they overlooked Brandon Convery.
Anyways, I have no idea whether the online poll was actually used in the end or not. It just seemed strange that nobody caught those errors.
Some additional thoughts:
- At first I was going to criticize the team for not spending more time matching up the current and past players appropriately. I mean, Rick Wallin as Mats Sundin? But then I realized that we don't have any players worthy of wearing most of these guys' jerseys, so I felt better. And by "better", I mean "terrible".
- Wayne Primeau as Wendel Clark? Ugh. They should have just had the real Wendel Clark take the skate. And then stay on the ice and play on the first line.
- Ironic to see Mikhail Grabovski wearing Peter Zezel's jersey considering their respective faceoff skills. I'm pretty sure Grabovski would lose over 95% of his draws to Zezel. And not in their prime. I mean today.
- Speaking of which, MLSE couldn't have thrown me a bone and had Grabovski play Berezin, and Ponikoravsky be Modin?
- It was great to see Felix Potvin mentioned in the opening, and it was a brilliant move to use the occasion to replay his Hextall fight on the main scoreboard. I just wish Felix himself could have been there to take part in the ceremony. Anyone know why the Leafs invited his dad instead?
- How many Leaf fans do you think watched the game at a bar, a party, or for some other reason had the volume turned down and momentarily thought they were having a stroke? Toronto's 911 lines probably lit up for a good ten minutes.
- If you're going to a 90s night, why not go all out? You're telling me you couldn't have arranged for the anthem to be performed by Color Me Badd or Dee-lite?
- Finally, I loved the idea for the ceremony and thought the execution was solid. But is anyone else concerned that we're starting to get a little Habby with all the ceremonies lately? I like an occasional nod to history as much as the next guy. But as a rule of thumb, if you find yourself holding a pre-game ceremony that prominently features an appearance by Mark Osborne, you might be overdoing it.