Steve Simmons Rant…

I don’t read every sports writer in every newspaper in every city in North America. In fact, I don’t even come close. But even so, I have to be confident in saying that the absolute worst sports/hockey writer has to be Steve Simmons. The reason why he is such a bad hockey writer is he for some reason has a personal vendetta against everything Maple Leaf. Even if he is writing about something non-Leaf he still has to get a Leaf jab in.

For example, yesterday he wrote an article about Garry Monahan who was the first player every drafted into the NHL. It was a somewhat interesting read somewhat ruined by his personal vendetta against the Leafs.

In all, 21 players were chosen, 20 of them from Ontario. Some of the names remain familiar: Peter Mahovlich, from St. Mike’s, taken right after Monahan by Detroit; the Leafs selected Walt McKechnie with their first pick, Jim McKenny with their third and Gerry Meehan with their fourth.

How long ago was this? Might have been the last time the Leafs outsmarted teams at the draft.

For what purpose, other than displaying his inherent anti-Leaf bias, did he have to write that last sentence? It contributed absolutely nothing to the story and took away a lot. Sometimes I wonder if the only reason he wrote the article is to take that jab.

And now today he thrashes all over John Ferguson Jr. and the Leafs for the trade he made yesterday to acquire Bell and Toskala. In particular about forgetting all about building through scouting and the draft. But let’s look at the facts here.

First off, by nearly everyones account this is one of the worst drafts in recent history. If that is the case, how bad could this draft be? Let’s look at the 10-25 picks of some recent bad drafts.

1994: Nolan Baumgartner, Jeff Friesen, Wade Belak, Mattias Ohlund, Ethan Moreau, Alexander Kharlamov, Eric Fichaud, Wayne Primeau, Brad Brown, Chris Dingman, Jason Botterill, Evgeni Ryabchikov, Jeff Kealty, Yan Golubovsky, Chris Wells, Vadim Sharifijanov
1999: Jamie Lundmark, Branislav Mezei, Oleg Saprykin, Denis Shvidki, Jani Rita, Jeff Jillson, Scott Kelman, Dave Tanabe, Barret Jackman, Konstantin Koltsov, Kirill Safronov, Barrett Heisten, Nick Boynton, Maxime Ouellet, Steve McCarthy, Luca Cereda, Mikhail Kuleshov

So out of those 32 players in those two weak drafts I only see three guys (Ohlund, Boynton, maybe Jackman) that turned out to be better than Mark Bell let alone better than Bell AND Toskala and none of them are star players or een first line players. Even in a good year you are only going to get at most 4 or 5 quality players from positions 10-25 and maybe one star player. Even with mid-first round draft picks in good years the odds of drafting a first or second line player or top 3 defenseman are pretty slim.

And it is not like Bell and Toskala are old at 26 and 30 years of age respectively. Bell is a big, strong, two-way forward (and we saw how important these kind of guys were to Anaheim) who outside of last year looked like he had developed into a reliable 20-25 goal scoer, 45-50 point guy and a solid second line winger. And the worst case scenario for Toskala is one of the best backup goalies in the game and the best case is a solid starting goalie. Plus neither Bell or Toskala are making a huge salary. Scott Hartnell, who just signed a 6 year, $4.2 million per year contract, has never scored more than the 25 goals and 48 points he got in 2005-06 which happens to be the exact output that Bell provided the Blackhawks in 2005-06.

Maybe the Leafs could have gotten a high quality player with their 13th pick yesterday but more likely than not they would have drafted a dud from a whole lot of duds in a bad draft year, just like every other team drafting from the 10th spot and beyond. But Steve Simmons doesn’t seem to care one iota about reality, logic, reason or even journalistic integrity and instead lets his anti-Leaf bias rule his career (and maybe his life, who knows). It’s unfortunate that readers of the Toronto Sun get stuck with a clueless writer like that.

This article has 7 Comments

  1. As much as I hate the leafs, this trade was a good one. Toskala is a number 1 goalie and Mark Bell is a guy that plays with that edge and should try and have a comebck season. He was a high draft choice, so there is something in him that chicago saw. HOWEVER, The Toronto Maple Leafs have a problem with next wanting to start the rebuilding process. Mats Sundin is a great player and is the face of the franchise. However, Mats will not be a great player for more than 3 yrs, if he’s lucky. It’s time to trade for a 1st rounder and a prospect and possible a conditional pick. Also the leafs trading Rask for Raycroft was a horrible trade looking back now because Raycroft will either have a comeback season (I sincerely don’t think it’ll happen) or most likely he will sit on the bench. Toronto gave up a great prospect to Boston which begs the question, when is Toronto going to put their eyes on the future rather than the following season.

    Another Trade I want to mention was D B. Bell AND a 2nd rd pick to Phx for Yanic P. This was just another point that the leafs trade away a prospect for an oldie when they weren’t in the playoffs even. To make matters worse, Yanic is a UFA, so the maple leafs just lost Bell and a 2nd rd pick.

    Toskala is the biggest question now. I strongly thing that Bell won’t have that big of a role in Toronto, but Toskala has a chance now to turn a franchise into a playoff team. Depending on how he develops, how much wellwood, steen, stajan, and the other young guys step up, and what trades occur in the course of the yr, then Toronto could finish 5th-8th in the conference. HOWEVER, if bell plays like he did last yr. Toskala and raycroft don’t play like a 1b. goaltender (Emery, Vokoun, Turco) then the maple leafs will again look at an early spring.

  2. Hi David.

    You forgot to mention Steve’s super-sensational story about Sundin’s career-threatening labrum tear. Sadly, the original story had been pulled from their site (or at least I can’t find it) or I’d give you a link. Maybe the Sun was actually too embarrassed to keep it on line.

    Steve is the lowest possible denominator in the world of sports reporting, catering to a crowd who’d be better served (and better informed) by reading the National Inquirer.

  3. Isn’t it ironic that everytime there is a fabricated story floating around regarding an iconic hockey player (especially Leafs), Simmon’s name just happens to surface as the source of the B.S. And no less, at a time that would yield him the most visibility – ie. Olympics, contract negotiations, trade deadlines etc. He truly is a master at prostituting himself.

    Steve and I had a little email battle going last September regarding the crap he spread about Sundin leaving the Leafs because he sold his property.

    “Mats Sundin selling his house was the result of his breakup with his long-time girlfriend and had nothing to do with plans to leave Toronto.”
    I understand that your brand of hack B.S. “journalism” does well for you because there is a market of morons in Toronto that will believe it, but really – have you ever heard of a little thing called integrity?

    From: Steve Simmons
    > > To: Danny **
    > > Sent: Monday, September 18, 2006 12:39:15 AM
    > > Subject: Re: integrity

    > > Sundin broke up with his girlfriend more than a year ago.

    and your point is?

    From: Steve Simmons
    > To: Danny **
    > Sent: Monday, September 18, 2006 3:38:28 PM
    > Subject: Re: integrity

    > people in other places are writing this as though it is new – if you choose to believe that, that’s your business –
    > when you talk to sundin’s closest friends and associates, they say many things he chooses not to say himself – as reporters and columnists, it;s our job to provide insights into the athletes – i will stand by my integrity of a long career of reporting knowing first hand where all the material is coming from

    insights based on what? you have no tangible evidence – all speculative fabrication. why is it that the rest of your colleagues, who have also had long careers, I might add, tend to have something more concrete than “I know a guy hearsay….hearsay…” granted, it is your job to provide insight into althletes, but not based on gossip that you cannot reference, that ultimately creates unnecessary confusion and distraction to a beloved franchise that is trying to succeed. your columns are geared not on fact, but on a monetary end and nothing more. a perfect example was your attempt to destroy Wayne Gretzky’s reputation on the basis of something he had no involvement with (no less, just prior to the Olympics where team Canada had one of their worst showings in years) and for what??? to sell more copies of your tabloid and give yourself more visibility? you cannot parallel integrity with vindictive, predatory journalism – regardless of how many years you have under your
    > belt.

    From: Steve Simmons
    To: Danny **
    Sent: Tuesday, September 19, 2006 9:34:40 AM
    Subject: Re: integrity

    Wayne Gretzky had no involvement in what…
    His wife was betting with a bookie, whom he just happened to employ. His best friend, the general manager, was also betting with the same bookie. Nah, but he didn’t know anything at all, right?

    The police came to their home during the Super Bowl broadcast to interview them.

    If you’re that naive to believe he didn’t at least know what Rick Tocchet was doing while employed by him, maybe you should be reading comics instead of newspapers.

    again, you provide nothing but speculation – no evidence whatsoever. was he indicted?? NO. has he been charged with any crimes NO.

    Wayne Gretzky and Bruce McNall were part of an ownership group in the early nineties. i guess by your “logic”, Wayne too was just as guilty as McNall of the same financial fraud because of their personal and business affiliations. hell, while we’re at it…let’s dig up John Candy and indict him too.

    If you’re that malicious that you can debase a human being’s reputation on the basis of nothing more than speculative gossip, and still believe that you carry the slightest semblence of journalistic integrity, then you really need to partner yourself up with Victoria Gotti at Star Magazine. Just imagine how much you’d profit from smearing Holywood celebrities – you’re a natural.

  4. I wouldn’t overthink it, DJ. There are two major markets in Canadian hockey journalism: Toronto Maple Leaf fans and people alienated by perpetual Toronto Maple Leaf coverage. You choose one or the other as your reader base, get hyperbolic, and sell ad space. The irony is that in both cases Leaf haters end up spending a lot of time reading about a team they hate. I say this, knowingly, as an Ottawa fan.

    As for the Toskala trade: I like him as a goalie, and I like Bell (my parents live in Chicago and there’s some appeal in rooting for the under-under-underdog). But I think Mirtle raised some good points over on his blog. Toskala’s a UFA next year and has never been a starter. One year, sharing the starting role no less, won’t reveal enough to know whether a long term deal is worth it. It’ll be a tough position to be in at the end of next season (unless they make a huge run in the playoffs). Also, the Leafs gave up yet more futures for another goalie with some fundamental question marks. With Raycroft it was ‘Can he regain his Calder form?’ With Toskala it’s ‘Can he be a starter and play 65+ games a year?’ (subquestion: ‘And if he does, how do we afford him next year?’)

  5. The problem with this trade is that goaltending was not a huge problem for the leafs last year. Toskala is an upgrade but with the salary cap this move falls under the dreded “Yankee syndrome” of being to large a market to rebuld there is no apteince for it. What excatly is the idnetity of the leafs, defensive team?, hardworking, offensive juggernaut? Well it is none of these things, it is a team that alwasy ahngs around but doesn’t have a plan thus will never reach elite status untill they regroup and figure out what kind of team they are and start a 3year or 5 year plan to get there. I was born in the year the leafs last won the cup and my entire life the leafs have been run this way they will never win a cup in my lifetime untill they build a gameplan instead of trying to appease the public with the trying to win now strategy which never works unless there is a basic grounwork in place. The maple leafs are a patchjob team still and personally i love it being from Vancouver…lol

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