Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Dream Team (Part 2): Defence, Goalies, Management

Hello Sports Fans, and welcome back to the second half of our 2-part mini-series, looking at some of my favorite players to wear a Maple Leafs uniform, and imagining what it would be like to have them all on the same team at the same time. If you missed Part 1: The Forward Lines, check it out, here. And now, let's look at the rest of the line up. Defence, the goalies, and Management.

I'm expecting some disagreement here, and to be honest, I found picking the 6 defencemen way harder then choosing 12 forwards. A lot of very good defencemen have come to Toronto but were not very good Maple Leaf defencemen. Indeed, something about Toronto seems to repeatedly eat up decent defencemen and spit them back. Mathieu Schneider, Jeff Brown, Larry Murphy. Those are the worst of the best. But there's also Phil Housley, Jason Smith, and Kenny Johnson; fairly good defencemen whose impact was minimal. Then there's also popular Leaf defenders, Al Iafrate, Brad Marsh, and Luke Richardson, who never got to enjoy the Leafs' better days. And then finally, there's Bryan McCabe.

Tomas Kaberle-Dimitri Mironov. Kaberle is an obvious choice and doesn't need to be explained. Mironov, on the other hand, is actually my sixth defenceman, I just like the way he pairs up with Tomas. He's like a McCabe that girls don't laugh at. Mironov was called "Tree" because you needed an axe to take him down. His career statistics are not all that impressive, and he had his shortcomings, but in the '94 playoffs he put it all together. In 18 games, Mironov scored 6 goals and added 9 assists for 15 points. The choice was really between Dimitri and McCabe, and it was hard, but I just couldn't have a guy who shot the puck into his own net, and got rag-dolled by Zdeno Chara on my Dream Team.

Borje Salming-Sylvain Lefebvre. Borje is the King. One of the all-time greats, and one of my earliest favorite players. He has a map of the Don Valley Parkway on his face. That's devotion. Salming's conditioning and skill puts him in control of the play whenever he's on the ice. Lefebvre meanwhile, will be looking for anyone with their head down in the trolley tracks. Sylvain's a stay-at-home defenceman who cooks and takes care of the kids. If it wasn't for Lefebvre, and Joe Bowen's call of one magical moment, would DownGoesBrown still exist? Maybe then this blog wouldn't exist either, and you wouldn't be reading this post right now. Heavy, eh? In a weird way, we owe our thanks for this moment to Sylvain Lefebvre.

Todd Gill-Danny Markov. I'm expecting disagreement with this pairing, but I'm open to it. If you don't know why Todd Gill is on the team, you should read this. As for Markov, I just kinda like him. His stats don't do his performance credit. He was a poor man's Darius Kasparaitus. Tough, edgy, and combative, he was also an ambitious risk-taker. This pair is going to give up a lot of scoring chances, but they'll also be entertaining as hell. If Don Cherry wants Rock'em Sock'em hockey, these 2 will provide it. What they lack in common sense they make up for with their hustle and effort. With Gill and Markov's spirit and sacrifice, this Dream Team of millionaires will stay honest and won't go soft, or run from a fight.

Felix Potvin-Curtis Joseph. This was another tough one. I'm going to right a wrong done long ago by bringin' in Cujo, but I'm keeping the Cat as my starting goalie. Felix will start 60% of the games up to the trade deadline, and then we'll take Zigmund Palffy for whichever goalie the NYIslanders want. Honorable mention in this category goes to Mike Palmateer and Grant Fuhr. After the trade for Palffy, an 8th round pick should bring back Damien Rhodes. If you're looking for a "purely back-up" goaltender, he seemed like a really, really nice guy. I always liked him, and he liked us. Seriously, when has a back-up goalie ever cried after he got traded? In a bizarre 3-way deal with the NYIslanders and Senators, Rhodes and Wade Redden went to Ottawa while the Leafs landed Kirk Muller. Rhodes held a press conference to thank the city and to wish his teammates luck and softly wept for the cameras. C'mon back, kid. We didn't mean it.

The Coach: Pat Burns. The GM: Pat Quinn. The President: Cliff Fletcher. Serious hockey for serious minds only. If we stay within our system, the rest will take care of itself. Winning and losing is everyone's responsibility. We win as a team, and if we go down, we go down together. We back each other up and we don't get pushed around. Our goal is only to win the Stanley Cup.

The Owner: Me. Inherited form Harold Ballard due to a clerical error that no one ever noticed. Hey, it's my Dream Team!


Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

there were a lot of good d-men to lace em up for the leafs...

jamie macoun, bob rouse, dmitri yushkevich...those guys come to mind...

jyrki lumme...yeah right.

i like your six though. i always liked mironov as well.

and it was fun to watch brian leetch in a leafs uni for a little bit.

general borschevsky said...

Cheers, eyebleaf! Enjoy your input. Let me add Rick Natress to the first 3 you mentioned. Lumme was a comdey act too sophisticated for a general audience. And Brian Leetch... wow, can't believe I forgot about him, but then again...

Down Goes Brown said...

No way I can put Mirinov on the list. Remember, he wasn't good enough to play for Burnsie in the playoffs (the Leafs went with five defencemen during that run... seems crazy in hindsight).

I'd put Ellet and Rouse ahead of him from that team. I'd also put Yushkevich on the team ahead of him. I'd even choose pre-NTC McCabe over Trees.

But the one guy above all others who has to be there is Iafrate. Come on, you can't a spot for the wild man? Any pro athlete who smokes a pack a day and wears his helmet during skills competitions to hide his bald spot is OK by me.

general borschevsky said...

Hey DGB! You're talkin' about the '93 playoffs (14 out of 21), but in '94 he was in all 18 playoff games and had 6 goals on the powerplay, plus 9 assists. But, you are right, he's the weakest choice and probably Iafrate should be in there. One of the fastest skaters and one of the hardest shots. He was exciting to watch. (I think it was the goofy-hair-helmet-thing that disqualified him)

Down Goes Brown said...

Anyone who can score like this, and hold their own against Bob Probert, should be on the team.

Now that you have the roster, who gets to wear the 'C'? And who are the assistants?

general borschevsky said...

More on Mironov: The guy Iafrate should be repalcing is Markov. Al can play with Gill, and it's still good chaotic fun. Mironov stays because I like the way he plays with Kaberle. I don't need 2 puck-moving defencemen on the first unit. Also, they both wear #15 so that'll really confuse opponents when they're on the ice at the same time!

Down Goes Brown said...

You've got to keep Markov. This is a guy who at various points in his minor league and NHL career:
- attacked a mascot
- shot a puck at an official
- saluted Jaromir Jagr at the end of a playoff series
- trash talked the Sens bench after taking a slapshot to the face

He was certifiably crazy. I loved him.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

i still have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that markov isn't playing in the NHL anymore.

i don't know much about frogren, but i do know i'd take markov over him.

hopefully the frog can win me over much like danny did.

Frost said...

I really like your selections for Defence (though DGB is right about Iafrate), not to mention The Cat over Cujo. This would be a solid group.

bkblades said...

Robert Svehla is at least an honourable mention for the Leafs from the immediate past. He was a supreme shot blocker and solid body checker.

It would have been fun to see the Yushki and Markov combination again. Both of them were certifiably hardcore, especially coupled with their non-understandable Russian talk on the ice.

general borschevsky said...

Thanks everyone. This was a lot of fun. Your comments and contributions made the post even better! Cheers gang. And now...
The Captain -- Wendel Clark
Assistant Captains -- Darryll Sittler, Mats Sundin
The Mascot -- A sleep deprived, helmet-wearing, half-naked, cigarette smoking, Al Iafrate stumbling over the seats while fans throw empty cups and popcorn at him to the tune of Wild Thing. During 2nd intermission he demonstrates his 115mph slapshot, skates a complete figure 8 in less then 8 seconds, 8 times in a row, then does a victory lap with a bottle of tequila, smokes 2 cigarettes at once and passes out inside the net. The Zamboni driver wakes him to the tune of Wild Thing. Fans throw popcorn and empty cups at the Zamboni driver.
Thanks again everyone. We did it!