Earlier this month, Maple Leafs Hot Stove was asked to contribute to Puck Daddy’s National Hockey League of Nation Series. With the help of Michael Langlois from Vintage Leaf Memories, we identified who we felt was the best ever Leaf player to represent each of the major nationalities in the league: Canada, USA, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Sweden, Finland and The Rest of The World. The results are after the jump. Note that the vast majority of Leaf greats could not be acknowledged in this list as we could pick only one Canadian. It would’ve been nice to pick two Swedes, too.
If you want to gain an understanding of where the Leafs have gone wrong in the past couple of decades, you should look no further than the list of Finnish Maple Leaf players. Every mistake this franchise has made can be represented with a Finnish player.
The Leafs attempting to get the last drop of blood out of an aging veteran: Jyrki Lumme.
Taking a chance on a player who might need a change of scenery: Aki Berg.
Giving up a high draft pick for a backup goaltender: the pile of flaming hot garbage that is Vesa Toskala.
That leaves one Finn that Toronto fans haven’t tried to erase from our memories: Niklas Hagman. Nik was brought in to the Leafs organization in that magical time after the firing of John Ferguson Jr. and before the hiring of Brian Burke when Leafs fans thought anything was possible. Cliff Fletcher was temporarily in charge and was going to right the ship by building a foundation for success in Toronto.
One of his first moves was bringing in Hagman as a free agent. Hagman would deliver two 20-goal seasons and would be one of the few penalty killers who didn’t make our eyes bleed on those teams, but really he’s memorable for three reasons:
2. This goal
3. And being enough of an asset that he could be bundled with Jamal Mayers, Ian White and Matt Stajan to bring Dion Phaneuf to Toronto, giving us one of the greatest message board threads of all time.
Kudos to Niklas Hagman, but a solemn honourable mention goes to Tuukka Rask. He was robbed of his opportunity of becoming the greatest Finnish Maple Leaf of all time and will have to settle for that recognition with a lesser franchise. And best of luck to Christopher Gibson (great Finnish name). Breaking Toronto’s Finnish goaltending curse now rests on you.
Agree or disagree with our choices?
I read the posts with interest. But if life has taught me anything, in sports, a team of the most talented individuals will often not take home the prize. Key role players often are the difference between achieving expectation and disappointment. They are the glue. Yet the experts never mention this. So I sit back and watch and wait for the post mortems. On paper and on ice is a big divide.Canada needs to win the gold. Fans demand it. But it will all come down to commitment and solid teamwork. Chemists, take your mark. (As much as I will live and die by Canada's results, I will be behind Phil for MVP.)
Seabrook is so over-rated it isn't even funny. Nobody seems to mention that his ice-time was scaled back to just under 22 minutes a night this season.
Kessel is an American machine. He loves F-16s, Eagles, Fast Food & Bombs. http://mapleleafshotstove.com/2013/08/27/muricas-next-top-model-phil-kessel/ … #leafs #tmltalk
The only reason I see not to have Phaneuf on Team Canada is that with the big ice, you might want the pure offense guys like Subban and Letang in his place. That said, neither of these guys play against top competition in the NHL regularly, so you definitely lose something by having both of them. I also think it's a bit of a joke that Pietrangelo just gets a free pass to the Olympics because of his 2012 season. Phaneuf was far better than him this past year. So far the kid has one great season under his belt.
I swear once a player gets a certain level of praise, and they play in a media friendly market, they just never get questioned again - by fans or anyone else. You can criticize so many of the guys we are considering locks without much effort at all, and I feel that surely if any of them played in a market like Toronto, we would actually hear those criticisms. As it is we get to pretend that Doughty is still a 60 point player, not a 35 point player. We get to pretend that Weber was the driving force in Nashville all these years. We get to pretend that Pietrangelo has more than one good season under his belt. We get to pretend that Keith isn't a gigantic coward who lets guys skate right past him to the net. A word to all four: never go to a market where people both understand the game and care enough to monitor your every shift, or you'll get Phaneuf'd.
And what is this nonsense with Bouwmeester suddenly being talked about as if he were a Team Canada lock? It's an absolute joke. If he still played in Calgary, he wouldn't even be mentioned.
I don't think I would want Phaneuf on the Olympic team, we all saw how he played against Boston.... Albeit he was given way too many minutes, but I still wouldn't trust him on the ice during the gold medal game.
Dion doesnt even get mentioned on the TSN team Canada selection stuff...not even to say he didnt make the team...nothing...no respect!
Phill the thrill is one of the boys, socially awkward my ass
"Living in Toronto has grown on him so much that he returned to the city more than a month ago to spend time with what he referred to as an expanding group of friends. And on Wednesday, he will host his annual golf and poker tournament at Turnberry Golf Club in Brampton, Ont.
@skiingallday Wow.....guess you didn't watch the playoffs the last couple of years....Chara and Keith had worse games/series.....and it is not even close.
@skiingallday lol, Yea, he made one mistake. God knows we can't have any players on Team Canada who make mistakes. Guess you guys don't watch much of Duncan Keith, P.K. Subban, and Kris Letang, ey? Or Weber for that matter.
@wiski Just for me LMao ,and its all mine !
@ingy56 Ouch !
My Team Canada defense:
Duncan Keith - Shea Weber
__________ - Drew Doughty
Dion Phaneuf - P.K. Subban
(_________, Kris Letang)
Two left side spots open. Pietrangelo would take one of the right side spots in the case of someone being injured. Taking Marc Staal is a bad idea, in my opinion. I think I would look very strongly at Dan Hamhuis for the spot next to Doughty. That's the kind of guy he has seen a ton of success with.
I kind of see why they are saying Bouwmeester. We just have garbage for left side defenders. Even Phaneuf has never really played the left side extensively. Outside of his short stint with Carlyle, he's been a right side D since the CHL. In a championship caliber atmosphere though, I'd take him out of position over Bouwmeester all day long. Beauchemin might be my last add.
@JMAC17 @Cameron19 @wiski And I don't understand who in their right mind would put Bouwmeester or Boyle ahead of Phaneuf. It's not 2010. Boyle is declining heavily now. Bouwmeester is just utter garbage. The softest defender in the NHL, and a guy who has achieved absolutely nothing.
Pietrangelo and Seabrook I can understand why they would make it even if I don't agree. Pietrangelo only has one good season under his belt and is pretty over-rated because of it. He's actually very much so a young Phaneuf in that he got nominated for a Norris early and now has expectations slightly beyond his current ability. Seabrook isn't nearly as talented as Phaneuf, at anything, but obviously it makes sense to put him there for the chemistry he would have with Keith.
@-Keon- Hahah, dude if you get caught, urine trouble
I know a really smart guy from London who could rep for MLHS at very little expense. :)
And no, his name is not rustynail.