The National Hockey League announced their “Top 100” players of the past 100 years list in a fancy gala in Los Angeles tonight. I’m going to be blunt with you; this list isn’t very good, especially as you get closer to the present. But it exists, and there’s a lot of Leafs in the mix. Here’s how it breaks down.
Alright, let’s be real; the Leafs weren’t ever going to have anyone lumped into this group. It’s a shame the centennial wasn’t a decade or so away because if it was and the Blackhawks’ nods were any indication, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander would all be locks. Maybe not fairly, but they would be. Seriously, three Hawks? Three Hawks and none of them are Marian Hossa? No Thornton, Iginla, Lundqvist, Luongo, or the Sedin Twins? But I digress.
Toronto has five and a half representatives from this decade. Mats Sundin waves the flag the strongest, but Eric Lindros, Joe Nieuwendyk, Brian Leetch, and Ron Francis are all there too. Brendan Shanahan, who is the team’s current president, also made the list and took a selfie on stage for with Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille, which was pretty funny.
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 28, 2017
Borje Salming is the only Leafs player who actually mattered to the team or even played for them in the 1980’s on this list, but Mike Gartner and Grant Fuhr also received nods.
Toronto’s shining star here is obviously Darryl Sittler. They did have one and a half other cameos, though; Bernie Parent, more famous for his time in Philadelphia than his year and change with the Leafs, was also on there, as was once-upon-a-time team executive and local politician Ken Dryden.
The Leafs also had their hands in the history of 16 of 33 players nominated from before the expansion area. These players weren’t announced tonight, though; they had been revealed weeks ago at the Centennial Classic at BMO Field.
This group of Leafs includes Syl Apps, Andy Bathgate, Max Bentley, Johnny Bower, Turk Broda, King Clancy, Charlie Conacher, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Ted Kennedy, Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich, Dickie Moore, Jacques Plante, and Terry Sawchuk.
Overall, this gives Toronto an on-ice connection to 26 of the 100 players on this list. That’s a pretty good effort, all things considered; further cementing the blue and white as a key contributor to Toronto being the Centre of the Universe (TM).