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.