Tuesday, June 8, 2010

2010 NHL Playoffs: Ex-Leafs Report

darcy tucker crazy
With the advent of social media there are new and easier ways for people to stay connected. This also means that there are new and easier means of staying connected with your ex. Or should I say creeping on your ex. Before you had to hide in the bushes outside your ex’s house to find out what was going on. Now all you need to do is check out any scandalous pictures from the previous weekend on Facebook.

Where can I possibly be going with such a creepy intro? Of course I’m going to go through a rundown of all the ex-Leafs who were fortunate enough to get out of Toronto and actually make it into the playoffs this year. How did they fare this post-season? No need to hide out in any bushes, just read on.

Darcy Tucker

Tucker is one of the most popular Leafs in recent memory, but it looks like the 35-year-old is nearing the end of his career. This isn’t entirely surprising considering the reckless way he played for so many years in Toronto.

After being bought out by Toronto, Tucker signed with the Avalanche and has produced two underwhelming years of less than 25 points. He didn’t score any points in a six hard-fought games against the Sharks in the opening round of this year’s playoffs.

Some people are still bitter that Tucker leveraged his four 20+ (fake) goal seasons in Toronto to get a four-year, $12 million contract and for being a member of the Muskoka-5. However, I choose to fondly remember the crazed player with the Jack Nicholson in the Shining face jumping madly into the Ottawa Senators bench. Ah, the good times.

Alexei Ponikarovsky

The Leafs’ “gem” of this year's trade deadline. Ponikarovsky was supposed to fit nicely on a line with Evgeni Malkin and basically provide the Penguins with the same spark that Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz provided last season when the Pens won the Cup. It didn’t work out very well for the Penguins considering they made Poni a healthy scratch for a few games this post-season.

He scored one goal in the playoffs and never seemed to click with either Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby. I was rooting for Poni because I hold no ill will towards him, but it looks like the Leafs got the better end of this deal.

Fredrik Modin

Ah, the Alexei Ponikarovsky before there was an Alexei Ponikarovsky. Best remembered by Leaf fans for having one Hell of a slap-shot and being traded for Cory “I once scored a huge playoff OT goal” Cross.

After being traded to the Lightning for Cross, Modin played decently for the Bolts, registering two seasons of 30+ goals and one of 29 over six seasons. They then traded him to the Blue Jackets for Marc Denis and he was hit hard with injuries. Over the last three seasons he hasn’t played over 50 games and has only once cracked 25 points in Columbus.

Accordingly, I was shocked that Modin was not only alive, but still worthy of being traded when the LA Kings acquired him this trade deadline. He scored 3 goals and added one assist in six games during a first round defeat at the hands of the Canucks this post-season. The old Alexei Ponikarovsky outplayed the current Alexei Ponikarovsky.

Steve Sullivan

One of the first bitter moments in my Leafs fandom was the day Pat Quinn waived Steve Sullivan.

This wasn’t like when I was furious at Gord Ash for dismantling the key pieces to the Blue Jays’ World Series team, because I wasn’t old enough to understand everything that goes into building, sustaining, and re-building a team. I was na├»ve and didn’t realize that there are things like money that play a role. I also didn’t understand great players eventually age and subsequently suck.

But I saw promise in Steve Sullivan and knew if he was given a shot with the Leafs he would be a very good player. I was upset with Quinn because I didn’t feel he ever gave young players a fair chance (not exactly true since Kaberle and Markov were both young and played key roles) and he was biased against smaller players.

After leaving the Leafs, Sullivan settled into a 60-75 point player when he wasn't plagued by injuries.

The Predators gave the Blackhawks everything they had in the first round and Sullivan notched 3 assists in six games.

Lee Stempniak

I once compared Stempniak to Snooki from the Jersey Shore because neither could score, despite having the most chances of everyone. Although, once Stempniak was shipped to the desert he turned into a scoring machine, which means he would be J-Woww in an updated comparison.

Stempniak scored 14 goals in 62 games with the Leafs then scored 14 in 18 games with the Coyotes. He turned his season around and quite potentially his career, since before his desert vacation it was questionable what, if any, type of offer he would receive as a free agent.

Stempniak returned to Toronto form this post-season and only registered two assists and a -4 rating in seven games against the Detroit Red Wings.

Kyle Wellwood

Leaf fans got way ahead of themselves and proclaimed Wellwood the first true linemate for Mats Sundin after he registered four assists in his first game with the big Swede.

It didn’t really work out that way and Wellwood ate his way out of Toronto.

For a while I worried Wellwood would take his departure as a wakeup call and start training hard. Instead, it seems like he’s still intent on hitting up every buffet in Vancouver and hasn’t scored over 30 points in his two seasons in Vancouver.

However, Wellwood did score 7 points in 12 games for the Canucks in the playoffs. Not too shabby for a guy whose off-season workouts involve drinking beers on the dock of his cottage.

Tuukka Rask

Uh, let’s just move on. Never played a game for the Leafs, he doesn't count.

Andrew Raycroft

Who does Leafs Nation hate more: Andrew Raycroft or Vesa Toskala? It’s a hard question that I can’t answer. They were both surly and thought they were much better than they actually were. Both are intrinsically tied to the downward spiral of the post-lockout Maple Leafs. I’ll say I hate Toskala more, just because I actually thought he was good.

Raycroft has settled nicely into a back-up role with the Canucks and had a solid year behind Roberto Luongo (although that is likely to end since the Canucks seem intent on letting Cory Schneider back-up next season).

Raycroft only played 25 minutes this playoffs when he came in to relieve Luongo after being shelled by the Kings in the first round. He let in one goal on eight shots.

Dominic Moore

The last act of JFJ was picking up Moore from waivers and it turned out to be one of his brighter moves. The Leafs turned Moore into a third line superstar and eventually parlayed him into a second round pick.

The Habs acquired Moore for a second round pick this season and he did the job you would expect of him. He even scored a few huge goals in the playoffs for Montreal, one of which was integral in eliminating the Washington Capitals. That alone might be worth the second round pick.

Hal Gill

I trashed the Leafs’ Hall Gill signing relentlessly before he played a game for Toronto. I thought he was old and slow and the absolute opposite of the player a team should sign in the post-lockout NHL. However, he turned out to be a really solid defenceman.

He turned into a shut-down defenceman this post-season and was an integral part of Montreal’s two stunning upsets. For the most part, if Halak didn’t stop a shot, it was likely that Gill blocked it before it got there.

His stats don’t really tell the story, because he had one assist and was a -3, but he was a revelation.

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