Just when you think you have seen everything…

The Toronto hockey media continues to amaze me. Today it is Howard Berger…

Having compiled 17 points in 10 games (including a league-leading 11 assists), Sundin is tied atop the NHL scoring stats with fellow Swede Henrik Zetterberg of Detroit

Mats is almost 37 years old. He’s playing like a 27-year-old right now, but the lack of offensive support will turn him into a 57-year-old by February.

Now they are complaining about the lack of scoring depth on a team with the 3rd best offense in the NHL (based on goals per game). The first thing worth mentioning is that you can’t lead the league in assists without at least a little help from your teammates. Second, the Leafs have scored 37 goals with Sundin having been in on 17, or ~46% of them which is high, but not extraordinarily hight. Zetterberg has been in on 55% of his teams goals and Crosby was at 45% last year and Lecavalier 44%. I don’t hear much complaining about those teams offenses or lack of help for those players. For the Leafs Blake and Antropov are both producing points at greater than a point per game. The Ducks last year had just one player (Selanne) producing at a point per game pace but it didn’t seem to hurt them. They have 6 guys with 3 or more goals and that puts each of them on pace for 20+ goals and that doesn’t include Darcy Tucker who has averaged 26 goals the past 2 seasons. Last years best offensive team, the Buffalo Sabres, only had six 20 goal scorers. Mr. Berger, offense and offensive depth is the least of the Leafs problems and hasn’t been a problem for years.

This article has 16 Comments

  1. People wonder why Leafs fans can get so worked up sometimes. The media is so deranged it’s hard to not get caught up at least some of the time.

    I actually had an argument with my roommate (not a hockey fan) about how the Leafs’ have trouble scoring! I almost passed out. I had to send him the nhl.com links to prove that they could not only score but they could do it 5 on 5 as well.

  2. Yeah, I’m pretty certain the Toronto media’s tired refrain of “get a winger for Sundin” needs to be put 6 feet under. I get quite sick of it and it’s completely insane frankly.

    Over the past 3 full seasons (excluding the lockout) the Leafs have finished 8th, 8th, and 4th in goals scored. That puts them in the top 3rd of the League EVERY FREAKING YEAR. How is it Sundin has no scoring help when he finished 34th, 31st, and 12th in the league in scoring over those same previous 3 years. The leafs had 13 players with 10 goals last year, 12 players with 10 goals the year before that, and 10 players with 10 goals the season before the lockout.

    By way of comparison, Detroit has had 13, 12, and 12; San Jose has had 11, 10, and 8; Colorado has had 11, 11, and 9. Those are 3 of the best offensive teams in the league over the same stretch. They are considered to have offensive depth, and yet somehow the Leafs don’t. It’d be nice if the media would dig it’s head out of it’s rear and actually RESEARCH this stuff once in a while… god I hate how moronic they appear.

  3. I’m not one to defend the Toronto (or any) media, but you know there is a kernel of truth here. Berger just worded it poorly – removing the word “offensive” from that blurb would make it 100% accurate.

    You have no idea what the Leafs have squandered. Sundin is a player in the Yzerman/Sakic echelon who was never given a decent supporting cast. Despite 1/ getting Sundin for a song, 2/ having him for a dozen prime years, 3/ having a massive budget, 4/ being a desirible destination for guys like Gary Roberts, the best this club could do was the semis.

    Sure, the Leafs have had some good teams during his tenure but nothing like Sakic’s Avs or Yzerman’s Wings – good, but not great. You can count 20-goal scorers ’til the cows come home in your effort to defend JFJ, I’m sure you could dig up some statistical anomaly that would suggest the Bluejackets are contenders too. The fact remains that Yzerman and Sakic were given Hall-of-Fame supporting casts while Sundin was given Jonas Hoglund and Nik Antropov. And that’s a shame. I would say it’s just like Boston’s failure, through mismanagement and frugality, to build a team around Ray Bourque but at least his Bruins made the finals.

  4. But he didn’t remove the word “offensive” and that is the point. For years the Toronto media has pounded into readers, listeners and viewers how the Leafs have never surrounded Sundin with any quality players. It’s hogwash. Maybe he hasn’t had and superstar forwards with him (i.e. Forsberg with Sakic) but he has had a more than adequite crew. Winning is about having depth as much as having a few mega-stars.

    And no, one cannot make an arguement to support the Blue Jackets as cup contenders aside from maybe having a great coach and one star winger. Sorry, but thats not enough.

  5. I’m a bit confused. If you look back over the last 7 seasons, the Leafs have had the following players play as support for or with Sundin:

    Shayne COrson, Gary Roberts, Steve Thomas, Alexander Mogilny, Owen Nolan, Joe Niewundyk, Mikael Renberg, Darcy Tucker, and Jason Blake.

    on D they’ve had Tomas Kaberle, Bryan McCabe, Danny Markov, Phil Housley, Glen Wesley, Bryan Leetch, Jyrki Lumme, Larry Murphy, and Dimitry Yuskeyvich.

    Admittedly those players weren’t ALL at the same time, but give me a freaking break, that’s a VERY nice list of talent from the past 10 years in the NHL. I don’t get the HUGE bias of people who think the Leafs have never had quality players. I think the MAIN complaint would be not having most of those players in the prime of their career. But if you reflect on some of them, they went on to win Stanley Cups AFTER leaving Toronto, while some had won it before. I seriously disagree with the idea that the Leafs haven’t surrounded Sundin with any talent. So please, quit pretending Sundin has had such a rough go of it in T.O.

  6. “Shayne COrson, Gary Roberts, Steve Thomas, Alexander Mogilny, Owen Nolan, Joe Niewundyk, Mikael Renberg, Darcy Tucker, and Jason Blake.”

    haha those names dont even compare to names like federov, shanahan, tanguay, hejduk, drury, brunette, forsberg, larionov, and god knows who else played on those wings and avs teams. those were REAL star players, most in the prime of their career.

    renberg was good in philly, when TO acquired him he was on the downend of his career. ergo, the leafs failed to give sundin any real talent. sure he played with GOOD players, but not GREAT players.

    theres always talk about one team having the top line in the league, otawa with their curent big 3, the nucks with nasund morrison bertuzi, the avs with sakic tanguay hejduk, and so on. the leafs had the potential to have something like that, they had the #1 ingrediant, a dominant big scoring center, they had a competitive team, and they had limitless cash, yet they decided to have 3rd line players playing throughout the lineup.

    pat quinn dropped the ball massively. he never played sundin too much, when he did he produced, and whenJFJ came along, he was handcuffed by the cap and the fact the leafs were on the downswing, but he still managed to make things worse by shoting himself in the foot several times.

  7. haha those names dont even compare to names like federov, shanahan, tanguay, hejduk, drury, brunette, forsberg, larionov, and god knows who else played on those wings and avs teams. those were REAL star players, most in the prime of their career.

    Brunette has had one season with more than 63 points. He is hardly a great player. Chris Drury never scored more than 24 goals for the Avalanche. Gary Roberts had seasons of 29 and 28 goals for the Leafs. He was better ‘support’ than Drury. Alexander Mogilny was 15 in league scoring for the Leafs in 2002-03. And I guess Doug Gilmour was a downright lowsy teammate in Sundin’s early years with the Leafs. It amazes me how often people over evaluate players on other teams and under evaluate players on the Leafs.

  8. The Leafs are the most underrated team ever to play in the NHL. They should have won 10 Stanley
    cups in the last 40 years. But but but they DIDNT. Hmm wonder why?

  9. I don’t think anyone has said they were an elite team for 40 years but if you check the record they are probably one of the most successful teams from the early 1990’s to the early 2000’s that didn’t win a cup. From 1992-93 to 2001-02 they got to the conference finals 4 times which is not too shabby. How many teams can say that? Detroit only made it to the third round 4 times in that period too (though they won the cup 3 times). The Flyers who have had at least as large a payroll as the Leafs only got to the conference finals twice. So while the Leafs haven’t won the cup the whole notion that they have been a one player team (Sundin) without much success is completely wrong. That is the point I and others are trying to make.

  10. haha those names dont even compare to names like federov, shanahan, tanguay, hejduk, drury, brunette, forsberg, larionov, and god knows who else played on those wings and avs teams. those were REAL star players, most in the prime of their career.

    Lets review these players the years their teams won the Cup. Detroit won in 97, 98, and 02. Federov had 63 points in ’97, 17 points in ’98, and 71 points in ’02. His best years were actually in the past… he was named MVP and the Selke winner in 1994 when he scored 120 points, and was +48. Shanahan was a bigger contributor to the Wings cup runs, with 87 points in ’97, 57 points in ’98, and 75 points in ’02. Larionov was WELL PAST HIS PRIME when the Wings won their 3 stanley cups. He had 12 goals and 54 points in ’97, 8 goals and 47 points in ’98, and 11 goals and 43 points in ’02. None of which were particularly more spectacular than any of the Leafs forwards mentioned.

    As for Colorado, the only player mentioned from the Avs that was actually there for more than 1 cup was Forsberg. Brunette has never won a cup. Drury, Hejduk, and Tanguay have only won once, in ’01. Tanguay had 27 goals and 77 points. Drury had 24 goals and 65 points. Hejduk had 41 goals and 79 points. Forsberg is the most elite on this list, and in fact is probably equivalent with Sundin or Yzerman in Sakic. He scored 30 goals and 116 points when the Avs won their first cup in ’96, and then had 27 goals and 89 points when they won again in ’01.

    In comparison, the Leafs I mentioned included Roberts who had seasons of 29 goals with 53 points, 21 goals with 48 points, and 28 goals with 48 points while playing as a Leaf. Steve Thomas had seasons with 28 goals and 73 points and 26 goals and 65 points while playing on Sundin’s wing. Mogilny had years where he had 24 goals and 57 points, and then 33 goals and 79 points, while playing alongside Mats Sundin. Both Thomas and Mogilny put up numbers comparable to anyone you mentioned that was a winger. Nolan was traded mid-season from the Sharks in a year when he finished with 29 goals and 54 points. The next season, his only full one with the Leafs, he posted 19 goals and 48 points in 65 games. Again, quite comparable to everyone you listed.

    Nieuwendyk signed with the Leafs the SEASON after he won a Cup with New Jersey in ’03, a few seasons removed from being named the Conn Smythe trophy winner for Dallas when he won his 2nd cup in ’99. In his first year with the Leafs he had 22 goals and 50 points in 64 games. Again QUITE COMPARABLE.

    You listed 1 player that has played above the level of everyone else listed… and you didn’t exactly disprove my point. Sundin has had numerous players of talent to play with. I’m not maligning him, I’m just saying maligning their management is sort of ridiculous.

  11. I think I should clarify something here. I’m not saying the Leafs were ever good enough to win a Stanley Cup. I’m just saying the idea that they need a player to keep up with Sundin, which is what the media announces EVERY YEAR, is bogus.

    I also neglected to mention the fact that they’ve also had Grant Fuhr, Curtis Joseph, and Ed Belfour in the net since Sundin first came on board. Detroit won cups with Mike Vernon and Chris Osgood. I’ll admit Hasek and Roy are superior, but Belfour and Fuhr have won cups, and Joseph has done everything but… TWICE WITH THE WINGS. Basically the Leafs had superior teams but their systems and team cohesion seemed to come up against slightly more talented or dedicated teams. The bigger issue is honestly overall depth, and consistent defensive play. The Avs and Wings both had solid defensive systems in place and stuck to them, but still scored enough to win handily. The Leafs have scored… or defended… but doing both? That’s where the problems lie. Which is why they need to ditch players like Darcy Tucker and Bryan McCabe, who the fans are into, but drag down the team.

  12. Sorry… I said Grant Fuhr… He was replaced by Potvin… before Sundin arrived… I’m discombobulated on a Sunday. Ignore my mistake and just continue the debate with reference to Joseph and Belfour.

  13. Steve, im not saying sundin has played with minor league players. but almost every player u mentioned was old and on the downside of their career. the ;eafs traded away tons of prospects and picks away for older players. they signed lots of older free agents. not saying its bad, hey they got to a few conference finals, but they didnt win anything, and sundins skillset could have gotten them many many more points if he had an elite winger.

    in any event the leafs problems are far from over. they have too much salary commited to the wrong players. mccabe has got to go. hes an offensive threat, but hes overpaid and he imo hes not good for the team, especially defenively. he was more of an old NHL defenseman. kabele is the only guy the leafs should keep. hes a gem. kubina is good but overpaid, gill is big and slow, also overpaid, raycroft was a horrible gamble imo. paid too much and gave up too much for someone like raycroft. rask is an elite prospect, and boston was gonna let raycroft go. toskala is pretty old and has never been a starter, yet the leafs gave up quite a bit, not only for him, but for mark bell who was in essence a salary dump on san joses part. they got their picks for toskala and they somehow managed to trade away a problem, without gainging on in return. win win. imo the leafs will not improve until ferguson is gone, and as a hab fan i pray that he stays on as GM as long as possible haha.

  14. Ok, so of those “older” players in the downside of their careers… we have… Roberts, who is now playing with Sidney Crosby; Larry Murphy, who went on to win 2 cups with Detroit; Steve Thomas who made the cup finals with Anaheim, and also played for a strong Detroit squad; Glenn Wesley who is STILL playing for the ‘Canes… a team that won the Stanley Cup 2 years ago; and Owen Nolan who is still skating in Calgary and playing for a deep team there. Nobody is saying those guys aren’t “solid” players still… even if they are on the back end of their careers. They are high level players… older or not.

    I admit a lot of the others are near the end of the line, but a few have been up and comers: i.e. Kaberle, Yuskeyvich, Markov.

    As for Blake, he scored 40 goals last season. You can’t tell me you expect him to go from 40 to 10 in one year… or can you?

  15. I think I figured out what the problem with the leafs is. For years I thought it’s their defence. The media would always talk about them needing more offence, but I always thought their goals for stats have usually been as good as the best teams, it’s their goals against thats bad.

    But now I think it’s not even their defence, despite McCabe and Kubina. The leafs are notoriously inconsistent and thats the main symptom of their problem. They would win a few games and think they are unbeatable. Then they would lose a game, two, maybe three before they come back down to earth.

    And then it dawned on me, the reason for their inconsistency and the reason they don’t play to their potential all game every game is: leadership.

    In the days of Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour the leafs played with incredible heart. Wendel pushed the team beyond its skill to reach the conference finals.

    I don’t mean to bad mouth Sundin, the whole leaf line up is lacking in leadership, but he is not an inspiring leader. He leads by contributing, but he doesn’t inspire. A few years ago we saw a great example in Garry Roberts. I saw Roberts as a great leader when he had that role, but when he wasn’t the leader he dissappeared. That’s why when the Leafs played the Sens, although outmatched they prevailed. Sundin was injured and Roberts to control and edged the leafs past the lousy leadership of Alfredsson.

    The Leafs lack leadership. They play with their limited skill. Any rookie in the dressing room in the second intermission down by one goal would know they have to come out hard in the third to tie or win it. A true leader would inspire the team to come out hard in the third when they are up by a couple of goals. Inspiring the team to play hard and beyond their skill level is the true goal of a leader. A role sorley missing from the leaf line-up

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