What Killed Bryan McCabe?

Jay LaPrete/Icon SMI

Anyway you look at it #24 is a totally different defencemen then the one we traded for. The old McCabe would fight hit and was developing into a great defencive defencemen with a huge shot. Now today the only quality he has of those is the big shot. Now the question is how did he get there?

For me the defencive woes started when the can-opener was taken out of the game that was his signature move and it stopped forecheckers in there tracks. When they took that out he started to take penalties when looking for alternatives for the can-opener. However coming back and defending against an on coming rush is not McCabe’s biggest weakness. That would have to go to his play in his own zone and on the pk. He seems to give up when a forechecker who can hit comes in at him. For instance against Pittsburgh last year when Roberts came hurtling in at him he almost gave no effort against him and that allowed Roberts to set up the tying goal.

The death of good McCabe could also be attributed to his ego. He tries to do to much, this is probably because he wants to earn his contract which is an average of 5.75 million a year but the fact that he thinks that he has to play ever powerplay, he does not have nearly enough patience on the power play and as we saw last night that leads to mistakes.

His drop of play can also be put on the shoulders of the coaching change. Pat Quinn would give vets like McCabe whatever they wanted in terms of ice-time and powerplay time. In 05/06 Quinns last year as a Maple Leaf he put McCabe with Kaberle who made him as good as he was. With Maurice the first thing he did was break them up, put Kaberle with his country man Kubina and put McCabe with youngsters such as Colaiacovo or White. In the Quinn days McCabes spot on the top pairing was undisputed. Now with more defencive depth McCabe lost his spot and to me seems a bit disheartened by his drop of responsibilities. Just compare the defencive lines last year and the year before and just look at how McCabes responsibilities have been dropped off.



Any of these things can be attributed to McCabes considerable drop off in play I would like to hear what you think.

26 Responses to What Killed Bryan McCabe?

  1. The-President says:

    I still think McCabe is a great player, regardless of what anyone says. I think the primary factor in some of his deficiencies are Paul Maurice, and his personal life. I am not a fan of Maurice, it seems like he gets the most out of 4th line players, and then wants to drive the top players into the ground. I don't know what is wrong with him but he always seems a bit clueless, he will never win a cup, never! I miss the days of Quinn, when we actually had an all around team that other teams feared. Now were lucky if we instill fear in an opponent, it's all a joke.

    On to McCabe's personal life, remember when his wife was very very ill, maybe that changed his mindset on life, and he's been alittle distracted since then, maybe, just maybe thats it…. but overall I still think he's an awesome player.

  2. Rysto says:

    McCabe's the same player he's always been.  People have been saying for years that McCabe is a below-average defensive defenceman.  The only difference is that finally the Leaf fans are beginning to see the truth.

  3. riseagainst says:

    It does seem like is game as changed.  Even after he lost the can opener he still used that hip check a lot which was exciting and effective.  Its still early in the season, I don't think we've seen the best of McCabe.  Hopefully he can pick up his game or Maurice can find a way to get more out of him.  Even Kubina who is a similar player has been pretty weak under Maurice, definitly not blaming Maurice but he needs to get better out of them. 

  4. neilios says:

    If the Leafs where smart they would trade him cause the Leafs already have Kubina and Kaberle.There are alot of teams that can use a PP Qb maybe the Blue Jackets cause the Leafs need some much needed 2nd line scoring and they can probably get Federov I know he would be available and he would be the only one just for salary purposes or maybe Modin and Foote that would be a decent trade for the Leafs,but I can see couple other teams like the Islanders and Coyotes I know Gretzky would want him.Lets see couple possible deals.

    To Leafs-Satan and Hunter
    To Islanders-McCabe and Newbury

    To Leafs-Boynton ,York,and 2nd rounder
    To Coyotes-McCabe and Stajan

    To Leafs-Modin and Foote or just Federov
    To Columbus-McCabe

    I think any one of those trades would help the Leafs.Iam not a Leafs fan these are just suggestions.

  5. dog_farts says:

    What's changed? 
    Nothing's changed.  He was just as useless defensively when he was in Chicago.  As a Hawks fan I was glad to see him go, even if it was for a tool like Karpotsev.  He's an overrated version of Bryan Berard, except Berard's only got one good eye.

  6. glennbauer says:

    If anybody wants to buy hockey tickets for the habs-leafs games November 3rd, e-mail me at glennarden@hotmail.com. the tickets are in the grey section.

  7. Cards85 says:

    I believe he has a no trade clause

  8. 68north says:

    nobody wants recycled garbage-not even good enough for the marlies

  9. Rico71 says:

    He is simply another version of Sheldon Souray.

    Big shot. That's all.

    Souray was once a rugged defensive defenseman…until he discovered he had a big shot…that could actually hit the net after 2-3 years of trying.

    No defense…with a big shot.

    Put both on the same powerplay. Lots of goals going in..both ways.


  10. BrianColangeloNHLGM says:

    Even more intense, a "no movement" clause

  11. leafy says:

    I'm glad you wrote this article, as every Leaf fan is wondering the same thing.

    You absolutely hit the nail on the head when you say that "he tries to do too much".  Clearly his large contract has a lot to do with this.  Someone has to tell McCabe to completely change his game from a huge risk-taker to a sound stay at home defenceman.  The problem, however, is that there aren't too many stay-at-home defenders that make $5.75M.  It's a tough situation.

    Thus, the challenge lies with Maurice and the rest of the coaching staff to get McCabe to change his philosophical mindset, and get him to focus on good sound positioning and making smart plays rather than focusing on points.  A good role model would be Scott Stevens – outstanding in his own zone, and any offensive contribution was deemed a bonus.  This is the philosophy that needs to be instilled into McCabe's head.  Not that McCabe is ever going to be physically as good as Stevens, but you get the idea.

  12. senators101 says:

    Instead of asking what killed him, perhaps ask the question what made him good in the first place.  This isn't nearly as complicated.  Little salary leads to urgency for more salary.  He played alright and once he cashed in, he has no urgency to go play.  No movement clauses are a killer.  He doesn't have to do anything and he can't get in trouble because all he sees are $ $ signs.  You can see it in the way he plays.  Instead of playing hard with desperation, he's wondering what to do with the $70,000 he earns each game.

  13. leafy says:

    I agree with you.  Overall, he's still a very good defenceman, despite his propensity for making errors.  Clearly, much of the criticism is salary driven.

    In my view, a lot of people that criticize him him are either too young to remember some of the really bad defencemen we had in recent past like Cory Cross, Anders Erikson, Lumme, Khavanov, Berg, etc, or they lose perspective very easily.

    To be fair, I have noticed that his play has indeed slipped over the years.  To me, his peak was in the 2001 playoffs when we swept the Sens and then took powerhouse New Jersey to 7 games.  McCabe never looked better than in those playoffs.  His play has definitely slipped gradually since then, for whatever reason(s).

    But, on the whole, he is still a good defenceman.  Just overpaid unfortunately.

  14. leafy says:

    Unfortunately, McCabe is untradeable due to his bloated salary….even if he waived his no-trade clause!

    Raycroft is untradeable as well, not because of his salary, but because he sucks.  But that's another story.

    As for your trades above, I wish we could get Federov for McCabe, but it's not going to happen.  Also, I wouldn't trade Stajan, who appears to be coming into his own.

  15. Gretzkin says:

    Can we please stop referring to the "Can-Opener" as McCabe's signature move.

    It makes it sound like he inbvented it.
    I was doing that 20 years ago.
    McCabe was never that great, but has an excellent shot. Why they gave him that contract will baffle me until the end of time. 
  16. wingerxxx says:

    His skating has always been suspect.  That's where a lot of it begins.  He simply does not have the defensive awareness to make up for his lack of mobility.  He's an above average defenseman, but he was never a great one by any means.  I wouldn't want him on my first unit PK, but there aren't many other defensemen I'd rather have ripping point shots on the power play.

  17. turdfergusson says:

      The answer is is that McCabe's not that good to begin with. Every team he's played for has traded him rather uncerimoniously. One good year and he's given the key to the city.
      I'd say you're spot on about the fact that he can't blatantly interfere with other players anymore. The "new " NHL is definatley exposing those who can't adapt … 

     His contract is ridiculous for this year and how sublimley idiodic is 6.150/ gonna look next year?

      Unfortunatley for him, i'd say D-men show their age before any other position and the reality here is that he's 32 and will most likely be on waivers for the 09/10 season when his contract is 4.15/yr.


  18. kabby420 says:

    ya know what good or bad if i was being paid what he gets paid, to be great,good, or lazy. and i could be lazy and still make the bucks i would do it as well. money is what killed mccabe, and the few people out there that think he deserves the A because he is a leader in the locker room. Made him think he ray bourque or somethin. The money and teh respect is what ruined him, he’s not hungry anymore, he doesn’t think he needs to prove anything to anyone.

  19. The-President says:

    Overpaid just like everyone else in sports! He really isn't overpaid that much when you look at the other bogus contracts players have been getting lately.

  20. The-President says:

    More money more problems, unfortunately money gets the best of most people.

  21. leafy says:

    I agree.  When we look at the Wade Redden situation in Ottawa, we quickly realize that McCabe's isn't overpaid as much as we think.

  22. the_next_agent says:

    McCabe can score, there is no question about that.  Every year he is at the top of the league in points for a defencmen and every year he is at the top of the Leafs scoring.  McCabe's weak point is, well he isnt physical enough, if he became more physical there is no doubt in my mind that he would be up for the norris every year.  But since we have White, Colaiacovo, Kaberle and Kubina, McCabe uneeded on this leafs team.  He is to good to be on the 2nd line so thats why we should trade him for some more scoring.  I still think that a staight up trade for Vaclav Prospal would be a good one, we could then sign Dany Markov for some added grit.

  23. Hoondog2 says:

    I don't think the Leafs need McCabe anymore, i think that is part of the problem.  He doesn't feel the security like he used to, he knows hes not going anywhere but he also knows that thats not necessarily what the fans want.  He looks like he's handling a hand grenade back there.  That being said, i still think he is valuble to this team, and as overpaid as people think he is, he would have got that contract from somebody.

  24. leafmeister says:

    If the Leafs win I think it is in spite of him never does he contribute to the win should they win.

  25. senators101 says:

    Your right! He tries to do way too much.  He even tried to bodycheck the net tonight against Carolina.

    Somebody needs to tell him that he should be hitting the things that move (people), and not things that don't (goalie net).

  26. Aetherial says:

    The way McCabe has played this year, I seriously doubt he would have made an NHL team if he had to go to training camp and fight for a job. He would not have made ANY NHL team, including the Leafs.

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