The Maple Leafs and the Legacy of the Muskoka Five


Originally printed in 2012

Feb. 11, 2012 was a bittersweet night time for Toronto Maple Leafs followers. Mats Sundin, the elegant and consummate captain, was honoured together with his #13 raised to the rafters. A well-known face in Tomas Kaberle took the ceremonial faceoff. The Maple Leafs squad was horribly overmatched on the night time, shedding 5-0 to the Montreal Canadiens.

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A quantity of Maple Leafs had poor nights, and the loss solely served to intensify hypothesis that trades could possibly be made at the deadline to bolster the group’s playoff possibilities. But with Sundin and Kaberle (and different former Maple Leafs) in the constructing, the minds of some followers turned again to February 2008 and the legacy of The Muskoka Five.

Mats Sundin, Toronto Maple Leafs
Mats Sundin (Mike Lynaugh Photography)

Things had been totally different then. As a lot as followers wished playoff hockey, a rising quantity noticed an ageing squad with little younger expertise in the group. At the Feb. 26, 2008 commerce deadline, the group was 27-28-9 and some felt trades may internet some good, younger gamers to start a rebuild. It was to not be.

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The Maple Leafs made solely three offers… Hal Gill, Wade Belak and Chad Kilger traded for 3 draft picks in 2008 (rounds two, three and 5) and a fifth spherical 2009 choose. The group went 9-7-2 to shut the season, lacking the playoffs once more. The focus fell onto 5 gamers who had no-trade clauses, given by former common supervisor John Ferguson Jr., and had refused to waive them. These gamers had been thought of as the Maple Leafs’ most respected commodities – buying and selling one or all may probably restock Toronto for the future. Sundin, Kaberle, Darcy Tucker, Bryan McCabe and Pavel Kubina. They had come to be often known as The Muskoka Five.

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The District Municipality of Muskoka is a widely known as cottage nation, a couple of hours north of Toronto. Huntsville and Gravenhurst are solely two of the cities surrounded by innumerable lakes and waterways, forests and rocky shorelines. The moniker ‘Muskoka 5’ implied that veteran gamers in Toronto had been too snug, content material to play out the season and spend summers by the lake. No one may determine why anybody would go up an opportunity to be taking part in for the Stanley Cup to stay round the Maple Leafs.

LeafsNation holds Sundin in the highest regard. There isn’t any lingering feeling that refusing a commerce was disloyal. Sundin, in addition to the different 4 veterans, had negotiated their offers in good religion, and had been under no circumstances obligated to just accept a commerce, irrespective of how the group rationalized the request. Yet, how these gamers ultimately left Toronto, one wonders what could have been.

Darcy Tucker

Darcy Tucker had seen his manufacturing drop from 28 objectives and 61 factors in 2005-06 to 18 objectives and 34 factors for 2007-08. Still, his grit and expertise may have proved beneficial to a playoff group. He was purchased out throughout Cliff Fletcher’s tenure as interim GM, and signed as a free agent with Colorado on July 1, 2008. After two seasons in Colorado, he retired. The Maple Leafs handled a $1 million cap hit from the buyout till the finish of 2013-14.

Bryan McCabe

McCabe had been an offensive power, scoring 19 objectives and 68 factors in 2005-06, which netted him a five-year, $28.75 million deal. But, in the post-lockout NHL, McCabe had misplaced his bodily effectiveness, and had problem adapting to the new obstruction guidelines. He posted 57 factors in 2006-07, however in 54 video games in 2007-08, he scored simply 5 objectives and 23 factors with 81 penalty minutes.

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On Sept. 1, 2008, Toronto paid McCabe a contractually-obligated $2 million bonus. On Sept. 2, he waived his no-movement clause and was traded to the Florida Panthers, together with a fourth spherical choose (Sam Brittain) in alternate for Mike Van Ryn. Unfortunate for the Maple Leafs, Van Ryn performed solely 27 video games earlier than retiring as a result of damage and surgical procedure.

Mats Sundin

The Maple Leafs determined Sundin wouldn’t be of their plans going ahead, and supplied the Canadiens and New York Rangers the likelihood to accumulate him earlier than the commerce deadline. Sundin made it clear he believed the Maple Leafs would make the playoffs, and wouldn’t settle for a commerce.

He grew to become a free agent, and turned down a $20 million provide from the Vancouver Canucks as he contemplated retirement. He ultimately signed with Vancouver on Dec. 18, 2008, and retired following the 2008-09 season.

Pavel Kubina

Pavel Kubina Signed as a free agent in 2006 for 4 years and $20 million – some felt an excessive amount of for his 40 level contributions. Kubina, a powerplay specialist, was misused in Toronto, caught behind the first powerplay pair of Kaberle and McCabe. Brian Burke ultimately traded him to clear cap house, sending the defender to the Atlanta Thrashers with Tim Stapleton for Garnet Exelby and Colin Stuart on July 1, 2009. Exelby and Stuart weren’t elements with the Maple Leafs, although Burke used the cap room partly to signal Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin. Kubina went on to play for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Tomas Kaberle

The Kaberle saga performed out over a couple of years in Toronto. Finally, on Feb. 18, 2011, Burke and Peter Chiarelli made a deal sending him to the Boston Bruins in return for Joe Colborne, a first-round choose in 2011, and second-round alternative in 2012.

It was precisely the type of deadline deal hoped for again in 2008. Toronto obtained a giant centre who could lack a imply, bodily presence, however has proven respectable offense. Burke was in a position to bundle Boston’s first-round choose and his personal second to maneuver up, selectng Tyler Biggs, one other huge ahead who, it was hoped, would assist clear up some of Toronto’s ‘size up front’ points. Boston’s second-round choose was despatched to Colorado for Kaberle’s alternative in John-Michael Liles. Kaberle gained a Stanley Cup with Boston, signed a free agent contract with Carolina and was traded to Montreal.

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It’s pure hypothesis as to what the Maple Leafs may need acquired if all 5 of these gamers had been traded at the deadline in 2008. There weren’t many blockbuster offers that season, although some had been important. San Jose acquired Brian Campbell and a seventh-round choose from the Buffalo Sabres for Steve Bernier and a first-round choose. The Pittsburgh Penguins despatched Colby Armstrong, Erik Christiansen, prospect Angelo Esposito and a first-round choose to Atlanta for Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis. Colorado re-acquired Adam Foote in return for sending a primary and fourth to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Could the Maple Leafs have acquired related returns for trades involving Tucker, McCabe, Sundin, Kubina and Kaberle? Quite presumably. It’s not so simple as saying if the participant had waived his no-trade, the Maple Leafs would have made offers. True, Tucker and Sundin had been nearing retirement, and McCabe appeared on the decline. Yet, as veterans with playoff expertise, anybody of them may have performed a task for a group hoping to win the Stanley Cup. Perhaps no offers had been supplied as a result of it was broadly recognized the gamers wouldn’t make themselves accessible. Still, it’s cheap to suppose a bundle of two gamers may have introduced a prospect and a excessive draft choose, or that Sundin could have been value a top-nine ahead and a first-round choose.

Had Fletcher had the capacity to make offers, the Maple Leafs could have been that a lot nearer to constructing a playoff group. Interestingly sufficient, two of Burke’s main transactions noticed the Maple Leafs purchase two gamers from the 2008 first spherical in Colborne (BOS – sixteenth) and Jake Gardiner (ANA – seventeenth). In the grand scheme, no quantity of speculating will change the occasions of the 2008 commerce deadline. Maple Leafs followers are gone holding grudges in opposition to these gamers. Still, some surprise what may have been if issues had gone a bit otherwise in the late winter of 2008.


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