Here is the finale to the countdown of the 25 worst Maple Leafs of the past 15 years. Many disagreed with some of the selections (namely Hal Gill and Alex Ponikarovsky) in part one, and that is fine, there is no one right answer to the question of, “whose the 25 worst?” I must state again though, that aside from the minimum amount of games played, there was no specific criteria for a player to qualify for this worst list. These were simply players who myself and my friend/co-host loathed as Leafs and struggled to watch night in, night out. If you disagree, that’s great, always good to stir up a little debate, so if you happen to have a problem with someone on this list, or feel someone is missing, leave a comment below.
Also, here is the link to part one in case you missed it.
Without further ado, here are the worst Leafs, #14-1, of the last 15 years, a list dominated by goaltenders and slow-footed defensemen.
#14 – Mike Komisarek
Komisarek was a decent shutdown defenseman while in Montreal, nothing special but not horrible, yet Brian Burke felt that was justifiable enough to give Komi a 5-year deal worth $4.5 million per season. Komisarek crumbled in Toronto, with his defensive game collapsing leading to a combined -28 rating and, while he was never know for being offensively gifted, he could not produce anything as a Leaf, as even his shot totals were nearly halved from his time as a Hab. After a four game stint in 2012-13, he was demoted to the AHL and left for Carolina in the off-season.
#13 – Jeff Finger
A year before Burke signed Komisarek, Cliff Fletcher made an even worse deal by inking relative unknown Jeff Finger to a 4-year contract worth $3.5 million a year. Maybe Fletcher thought he had nabbed an up-and coming defenseman, but instead he signed a dud. Finger was a defensive liability almost from the instant he donned the blue and white, and after being a healthy scratch for a large portion of his second year in Toronto, the final two years of his deal were buried in the AHL. After 2009-10 in Toronto, Finger never played in the NHL again.
#12 – Tim Connolly
Looking for a #2 centre in the summer of 2011, the best Burke could do was to sign Tim Connolly, a player with a slew of injury problems, to a 2-year, $9.5 million deal. The move was panned by many from the beginning, and deservedly so. Connolly did manage to play 70 games with the Leafs, but could not capture the past glimpses of scoring touch he had in Buffalo, posting a measly 36 points (and -14 rating), and found himself on the third line by season’s end. Whenever he touched the puck, a giveaway of some sort was almost bound to happen. He was demoted to the Marlies in 2012-13 and has not returned to the NHL since.
#11 – Jeff O’Neill
O’Neill wanted to play in Toronto after the 2004-05 lockout, and instead of looking to younger, faster skaters, the Leafs granted O’Neill this wish and acquired him from the Hurricanes. His best years were clearly behind him, as he struggled to keep pace with the “new” NHL, registering a mere 38 points accompanied by a -19 rating. He did manage 42 points in 2006-07, but that was from starting the season with top line minutes, leeching off of Mats Sundin (poor Mats), but a lack of consistency led to O’Neil playing second/third line minutes by seasons end.
#10 – Tie Domi
Was Tie Domi a nice person off the ice? Yes. Was he a decent enforcer for at least half his time in Toronto? Yes. Other than that, he was useless. While he did his job as enforcer well for the first half of his tenure in Toronto, he couldn’t do much else. My lasting memory of Domi will be of him coasting in the neutral zone, with one hand on the stick, not ready to take a pass, and when he did receive one, he was like a deer lost in the headlights. He may have been one of the most useless players of all-time when trying to create something offensively.
#9 – Cory Cross
The Leafs took a decent, young winger in Fredrik Modin and traded him to Tampa for Cross, who had racked up a combined -49 rating over the last two seasons. Cross wasn’t as horrible in Toronto, improving that +/- rating to +31 over three years as a Leaf, and he even scored a game three overtime goal versus Ottawa in the 2001 playoffs. But did Cross reap the benefit of playing with better partners in Toronto, because my best memories of him will be of a big defenseman who loved to hit, but was incredibly slow and fairly useless moving the puck.
#8 – Jyrki Lumme
Acquired by the Leafs in 2001, Lumme was basically picked up for the sole reason that Pat Quinn liked him when the two were in Vancouver many years before. In Vancouver, Lumme was actually quite good, especially during the Canucks run to the Final in 1994. The Leafs didn’t get this Lumme. Instead they received a Lumme that got hurt in the 2002 playoffs and struggled to find his game in 2002-03, so much so that he was bought out of his contract and, like many before him on this list, he never played in the NHL again.
#7 – Aki Berg
A number three overall selection by Los Angeles who never lived up to his potential, Berg was a bust before he even came to the Leafs in 2001 for Adam Mair and a second-round pick. He had the foot-speed and awkwardness of Nik Antropov, along with the offensive gifts of Komisarek. He was a mediocre defensive defensemen at best, but will be best remembered for his terrible passing and turnover ratio. Ask any Leafs fan the question of who was the worst defenseman over the past 15 years, and it’s likely many will mention Berg as #1.
#6 – Curtis Joseph 2.0
The first of five goalies in the top 10..wait, what? CuJo on the worst list? Well, we’re not talking about Joseph who played for Toronto from 1998-2002, we’re talking about Joseph who returned to Toronto as a backup in 2008-09. CuJo was a shell of his former self, and that’s being polite. He only appeared in 21 games, yet posted an abysmal 3.57 GAA and .869 SV%. For many Leafs fans, including myself, it was painful to Joseph play at such a poor level.
#5 – Vesa Toskala
After splitting time with Evgeni Nabokov for two seasons, Toskala posted an impressive 49-17-5 record in San Jose. His individual stats were so-so (.901 and .908 SV% respectively), and they would slide in Toronto after being acquired in 2007. He did have poor teams in front of him, but Toskala regressed every year as a Leaf. He went from 33-25-6 in 2007-08, to struggling mightily in overtime and the shootout in 2008-09 with a 22-17-11 record, and a SV% falling below .900 (.891), before completely falling off the tracks in 2009-10, going 7-12-3 with a 3.66 GAA and .874 SV%. Toskala was a flop in TO, and will probably be best remembered for this moment on Long Island…
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#4 – Glenn Healy
While many Leafs fans think of Healy as a terrible analyst with HNIC, they forget he was just as terrible as the Leafs backup goalie from 1997-2001. Over his four seasons, Healy was 23-30-5, never once posting a SV% above .900 (his best was .895). What I never understood about Healy was his style and positioning. He was only 5’8 to begin with, and had this style where he would almost bunch up, exposing the high corners even more. Who knows, had the Leafs had a better backup, maybe they would’ve finished even higher in the standings, giving them easier playoff opponents, instead of having to face New Jersey early on in 2000 and 2001. Thanks in some part to Healy though, that did not happen.
#3 – Jason Allison
Here’s the brilliance of John Ferguson Jr. Let’s sign a player for 2005-06 who has not played since 2002-03, who is renowned for having a scoring touch, but also for being slow skating in a league with rule changes that will now favor faster skaters. That’s just what Allison brought to the table. He did manage 60 points, and was useful on the PP where he did not have to maneuver much, but defensively, he was horrendous. Back-checking was not in his vocabulary, as evident by his -18 rating. Allison was gone after 2006, but for some reason Brian Burke gave him a tryout in 2009, but thankfully Allison was cut before the season-opener.
#2 – Andrew Raycroft
Only with the Leafs could the teams all-time leader in wins in a season make the worst list. Acquired from Boston in 2006 for Tuukka Rask (shudders at that fact), Raycroft did win 37 games in 2006-07, but would have had more and pushed the Leafs to the playoffs had he been able to stop the puck a little more and not let in many soft goals. His individual stats that year: 2.99 GAA and .897 SV%. The Leafs lacked so much confidence in Raycroft that they traded him for Toskala in 2007, and Raycroft was eventually relegated to backup, going 2-9-5 with a 3.92 GAA and .876 SV%, and then bought out in 2008.
#1 – Trevor Kidd
Of all the terrible Toronto goalies over the last 15 years, Kidd was by far the worst. I remember as a youngster, I used to not watch games in which Kidd started over Eddie Belfour, because even with talented teams in front of him, it was likely Kidd would find a way to lose. In two years in Toronto, Kidd was 12-15-4, his lowest GAA being 3.10, and his SV% being .896 and .876. Like Healy, Kidd could have helped the Leafs to a better playoff spot, yet even with better teams in front of him than Healy had, Kidd was still brutal in nearly every game he appeared in. The fact that he could only muster 12 wins in 31 decisions with the players he had in front of him is flat out embarrassing.
There you have it, the finale to the worst Leafs of the last 15 years. Agree or disagree? Leave a comment below.
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