Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Ten fun facts about Doug Gilmour's record-setting 1992-93 season

Today marks the 25th anniversary of a big moment in Toronto Maple Leafs history. It was on this day in 1993 that Doug Gilmour assisted on a Dave Andreychuk goal to give the Leafs a 2–0 lead over the Oilers. The goal itself didn’t end up mattering all that much — the Leafs rolled to a relatively easy 6–2 win. But the assist gave Gilmour his 118th point of the year, breaking Darryl Sittler’s franchise record for points in a year that had stood since 1977–78.

As readers of this site are well aware, the Maple Leafs are an overlooked franchise that rarely gets much media coverage. So I thought it would be fun to look back on Gilmour’s big moment, with 118 fun facts about Doug Gilmour’s record-breaking season.

(Editor’s note: Yeah, 118 sounds excessive even for a Leafs homer like you. Maybe dial it down to 10?)

See what I mean? It’s tough to root for a team that gets so little attention. Fine, 10 fun facts it is.

1. There wasn’t exactly a ton of suspense when it came to Gilmour breaking the record

Gilmour had been on pace to shatter the record pretty much all season long, and he’d already become just the second Maple Leafs to ever hit the 100-point mark a few weeks earlier. When the Leafs took the ice in Edmonton that night, they still had 10 games left in the season, so barring an injury it wasn’t so much a question of whether Gilmour would break the mark but when, and by how much.

The “when” turned out to be that night, and the “how much” ended up being double digits, as Gilmour finished the year with 127 points. And he wasn’t done yet.

2. It wasn’t the only team scoring record Gilmour set that year

In addition to breaking the franchise-points record, Gilmour also topped two other important marks held by Sittler.

He finished the 1992–93 season with 95 assists, shattering Sittler’s mark of 72 (also set in 1977–78). That remains one of the highest marks ever, with only five players having ever recorded more helpers in a season – Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Adam Oates and Joe Thornton.

Maybe more impressively, Gilmour established another Leafs record for points in a single post-season. Sittler had set that mark in 1977, with 21, but Gilmour had him beat before the end of the second round. He finished the playoffs with 35 points, which remains tied for the eighth most in NHL history, as well as the most ever by a player whose team didn’t make the final.

The good news for Sittler is that at least he got to keep his NHL record for points in a game, although Gilmour managed to get his name into the record book for a different single-game mark. On Feb. 13, he assisted on all six Maple Leafs goals in a 6–1 win over the Dallas Star. That left him one back of the all-time NHL record for assists in a game, but tied the Leafs’ team mark, matching Babe Pratt’s output from a 1944 contest.

3. Nobody really saw all this coming

In hindsight, Gilmour’s transformation from respected top-six centre to unquestioned superstar feels inevitable. He’d been underused and perhaps under-appreciated in Calgary, where he was simply one of several top forwards on a Cup contender. The trade to Toronto was his opportunity to show what he could do as The Guy, and he made the most of it, embracing the big-market spotlight and having the sort of breakout season he’d always had in him.

It makes sense, and there’s probably a certain amount of truth in it. But even with the benefit of a nice narrative, it’s still remarkable how much of a jump Gilmour made in that first full year in Toronto. After all, this wasn’t some kid just entering his prime — Gilmour was already 29 years old and playing his 10th NHL season in 1992-93. He’d put up decent numbers for just about all of that time, but never anything approaching his 127-point breakout. His previous career best had been 105 points with the Blues back in 1986–87, and he’d had only one other season in which he’d even been over 90.

Even after coming over to Toronto midway through the 1991–92 season, Gilmour’s numbers were very good but hardly jaw-dropping. He put up 49 points in 40 games, just about exactly a 100-point pace. Heading into the 1992–93 season, that seemed about right – Gilmour seemed like an easy bet to lead the Leafs in scoring, but with limited talent around him the ceiling didn’t seem that high.

That thinking lasted a few weeks. Gilmour had 10 points through the team’s first five games and 20 through their first 10, and the race towards the record book was on. In hindsight, it all seemed obvious. But at the time, not so much.

Of course, at least some of that surprise had to do with some important context: The entire 1992–93 season was ridiculous.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

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