After about a year and a half away from hockey rehabbing from back surgery, Steve Sullivan is going to play his second game of the season tonight. The "Timmins Tornado" gets to resume a career that looked like it could well have been done back in 2007.
Steve came to Toronto in the trade that sent Gilmour to New Jersey (twelve years ago next month - wow). It was a pretty depressing time. This was the big trade we all knew was coming and it ended the Gilmour era in Toronto (for the most part). Coming back for Gilmour and Ellett were three kids - Sullivan, Jason Smith and a junior named Alyn McCauley.
Of the three, Sullivan paid the quickest dividends and fans took to him in a hurry. A little guy with great wheels and quick hands, he became a fan favourite. He put up 16 points in 21 games and while he was no Gilmour, he was fun to watch. Over the next couple of seasons, the Leafs weren't terribly good and they played a defensive game that didn't open up a ton of opportunities for smallish offensive players. Still, he put up 20 goals in 1997-98 and with the arrival of Pat Quinn and his offensive mindset, Steve should have been in good shape.
Didn't turn out that way. Steve couldn't find any ice time under Quinn and after only seven games, he was waived and picked up by Chicago. There, he got the opportunity he didn't get here and became a very solid scorer and player.
Would he have done that here? It's hard to say. In Chicago and in Nashville, he played a big role and logged a lot of ice time. Here, he was stuck behind Sundin for the prime minutes, plus there was Korolev, Antropov and Perrault in the mix, even a bit of McCauley. In a limited role, Sullivan didn't show much, and they let him go.
That's always the thing with players that get moved. Sometimes they land in the perfect spot and their careers take off. Others get pulled out of that perfect spot and don't find that groove again (see Stempniak, Lee). I was thinking this morning about guys like Rene Robert and Reggie Leach, both of whom were on their third teams before they suddenly put it all together and took off.
Anyhow, Steve did find that groove, and the trick is now to see whether he can find it again.
I went looking for Steve Sullivan Leaf videos, and believe it or not, this is what was out there. Can't say I remember this incident:
|1991-92||Timmins Golden Bears||NOJHA||47||66||55||121||141|
|1992-93||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds||OHL||62||36||27||63||44||16||3||8||11||18|
|1992-93||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds||M-Cup||4||1||0||1||4|
|1993-94||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds||OHL||63||51||62||113||82||14||9||16||25||22|
|1994-95||Albany River Rats||AHL||75||31||50||81||124||14||4||7||11||10|
|1995-96||New Jersey Devils||NHL||16||5||4||9||8||+3|
|1995-96||Albany River Rats||AHL||53||33||42||75||127||4||3||0||3||6|
|1996-97||New Jersey Devils||NHL||33||8||14||22||14||+9|
|1996-97||Albany River Rats||AHL||15||8||7||15||16|
|1996-97||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||21||5||11||16||23||+5|
|1997-98||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||63||10||18||28||40||-8|
|1998-99||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||63||20||20||40||28||+12||13||3||3||6||14|
|1999-00||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||7||0||1||1||4||-1|
AHL First All-Star Team (1996)
- Traded to Toronto by New Jersey with Jason Smith and the rights to Alyn McCauley for Doug Gilmour, Dave Ellett and New Jersey's 3rd round choice (previously acquired, New Jersey selected Andre Lakos) in 1999 Entry Draft, February 25, 1997.
- Claimed on waivers by Chicago from Toronto, October 23, 1999.
- Traded to Nashville by Chicago for Nashville's 2nd round choices in 2004 (Ryan Garlock) and 2005 (Michael Blunden) Entry Drafts, February 16, 2004.
- Missed remainder of 2006-07 season and entire 2007-08 season recovering from back injury, suffered in game vs. Montreal, February 22, 2006..
the HHOF take on Steve:
After two seasons in the OHL with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Steve Sullivan was selected by the New Jersey Devils in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. He made his NHL debut in the 1995-96 season while spending the majority of his first two seasons with the team's AHL affiliate in Albany where he was named to the league's first all-star team and captured a Calder Cup title in 1995. The next year saw him split the season once again as well as being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Sullivan spent the next three seasons in Toronto before being claimed off waivers by the Chicago Blackhawks, where he blossomed into a bona fide point-producer. The 2000-01 season was Sullivan's most productive in the NHL as he led the Blackhawks in scoring, as well as the league in short-handed goals and points.
Although small in stature, Sullivan is a crafty player with breakaway speed who after dominating the AHL in the mid 1990s, took his game to the NHL and once the 2002-03 season came to an end had scored five straight 20-plus goal seasons and five straight 40-plus point seasons. In February 2004, after parts of five seasons in the Windy City, Sullivan was dealt to the Nashville Predators who were looking for an offensive threat. Upon his arrival with the Preds, Sullivan to register 30 points (9-21-30) in 24 games, while leading the club to its first playoff appearance in franchise history.
On the international stage Sullivan made his debut at the 2000 World Championships and returned again the following year.