Are the Leafs the evil empire of hockey?
If you’re a baseball fan, you’ve heard the references to my beloved New York Yankees as “the evil empire”, but something that never really occured to anyone, is that the Toronto Maple Leafs are more like the evil empire in the movie then any sports franchise.In the movies, there is no loyalty in the empire, when the evil emporer decides that Count Dooku isn’t as powerful as Anakin Skywalker, he gets rid of him, and takes on Darth Vader, and when he realizes that Luke Skywalker is stronger then Darth Vader, he decides to get rid of him too, and tries to lure Luke.
All nerdiness aside, remember back to 1994, Mats Sundin was a young super star with the Quebec Nordiques, and the Toronto Maple Leafs through away beloved captain Wendel Clark to add Mats Sundin, and when they finally decided it was Sundin’s turn to lead the team, they threw away Doug Gilmour for next to nothing. Well… it seemed like next to nothing at the time, and it really was until it left Toronto, but Doug Gilmour was traded to New Jersey in exchange for Jason Smith, Steve Sullivan, and Alyn McCauley.
And it likely would have happened to Sundin had the Leafs been able to add Lindros in 2001, and it likely will happen to Sundin eventually, it has just happened to Ed Belfour in net, it is happening to Tie Domi in the enforcers roll as Ben Ondrus continues to take ice time for Tie Domi, and it will happen to Pat Quinn when he is fired this summer, and Paul Maurice is called up, or Brent Sutter is hired.
And of course this could be a good thing, the Leafs rebuilding, getting younger, but I don’t like the lack of respect John Ferguson gives the veterans, he has treated Steve Thomas, Bryan Martchment, Joe Nieuwendyk, Owen Nolan, Alex Mogilny, Gary Roberts, and Doug Gilmour like nothings. And several of them (Nieuwendyk, Mogilny, Gilmour, possibley a couple others if they get lucky) will end up in the hall of fame.
And then of course there’s the obvious reasons they resemble an evil empire, buying players, which seems like a huge mass of money to some teams, but is nothing to MLSE. The difference between the Maple Leafs, and the Yankees, is on occasion, the Leafs are also even given a hometown discount, on players like Jeff O’neill, and Eric Lindros.
I love the Maple Leafs, but as I watch Aki Berg and Wade Belak on the ice, it almost reminds me of big stupid Storm troopers…
Note: To all nerds, I apologize for any mis-spelling of moive characters names.