I have really enjoyed the debate surrounding Mount Puckmore. It has been an entertaining diversion from the off-season speculation and an excellent lesson in the history of the Maple Leafs franchise. I am inclined to agree with those who believe that Mount Puckmore should only have one post-1967 face, and that it should be Mats Sundin. I believe this because I think this exercise should be about giving credit to some players who have been lost to history for the average fan. That being said my Mount Puckmore will completely contradict what I just wrote.
My Mount Puckmore has been commissioned with a very specific purpose; attracting tourists to South Dakota, wait no, that doesn't sound right. Oh yes, it has been commissioned to select the players who most closely resemble each President on the real Mount Rushmore. Who are our Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt?
In order to decide which player should represent which President we need to know why each President is up there. Independent of their accomplishments these particular men are on Mount Rushmore because in order to receive funding from the Federal Government President Coolidge stipulated that along with Washington two Republicans (Lincoln and Roosevelt) and one Democrat (Jefferson) be portrayed on the monument. I won't digress into a rant about how the current Republican Party is able to take advantage of the late 19th and early 20th century American political landscape to claim that Lincoln and Roosevelt embodied the ideals of their party because this is neither the time nor the place, just know that it bothers me. So, much like us the sculpture was defined by certain parameters. The next question is, why these particular Presidents. The short answer is that these Presidents were chosen for their accomplishments in two key areas: preserving the Republic, and expanding the territory of the United States. In order to chose a player to represent each President I have distilled the contributions of each one into a single idea or accomplishment that I feel defines their inclusion on the real Mount Rushmore, feel free to argue with me about it.
So with all that in mind I present to you my incarnation of Mount Puckmore. (From left to right)
Washington: Ted Kennedy
If you've ever read the American Constitution, and I'm assuming everyone here has, you'll recall that the description of the office of the Executive is ambiguous at best. George Washington defined what it meant to be President. When he assumed power no one knew exactly what would happen or how he would govern. There were some who wanted him to remain in power until he passed away; others felt that he should be granted only one term. Some thought his power should be similar to that of a monarch; some believed he should merely be a figure
head for the new Republic. In the end Washington served only two terms, which would become the accepted standard until FDR, and then be written into the Constitution with the 22 Amendment. He was the man that all Presidents could look up to, be they Whig, Democrat, or Republican. I selected Kennedy as I believe that he did the same thing for the Maple Leafs. Yesterday 1967ers summed him up perfectly: "I have long thought that the kind of love that Leaf fans held for Ted Kennedy has translated into a preference for players who in one way or another emulate him - guys who are visibly working out there, guys who aren't necessarily graceful in all that they do, but will tear themselves to pieces trying to succeed." Ted Kennedy is our George Washington. I imagine they probably ended up with the same amount of real teeth by the end of their respective careers.
Thomas Jefferson: Cliff Fletcher
I believe that Jefferson is up there for one reason, the Louisiana Purchase. The Louisiana Purchase was the 19th Century equivalent of the Gilmour trade. The Louisiana Purchase encompassed all or part of 14 current U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. The land purchased contained all of present-day Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, parts of Minnesota that were west of the Mississippi River, most of North Dakota, nearly all of South Dakota, northeastern New Mexico, the portions of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado east of the Continental Divide, and Louisiana west of the Mississippi River, including the city of New Orleans. (from Wikipedia) The LP makes up roughly 23% of the current United States and he bought it all for $15,000,000. The LP affirmed the United States' claim to the continent and was a major factor of its rise in power during the 19th Century. The land acquired in the deal would also shape the battle over slavery during the century. We all know how the Gilmour trade went down and its implications on the history of the Maple Leafs, I am inclined to add the Sundin trade as well as it would establish the Maple Leafs as a legitimate franchise for the next decade. The moves made by Fletcher established the Maple Leafs for at least a decade and were a heist of epic proportions not seen since the Louisiana Purchase.
Abraham Lincoln: Doug Gilmour
Lincoln is on Mount Rushmore for saving the Union and being generally badass. Doug Gilmour did the equivalent for the Maple Leafs. In this analogy the Ballard years represent the Ante-Bellum United States which I believe is fitting. The 1980s Toronto Maple Leafs were a house divided against themselves. There was Ballard and there was everyone else. Ballard was content with ruining the Maple Leafs much like Jefferson Davis and the other secessionists were hell bent on destroying the Union. In each case one man had the courage to say no. Reading 1967ers case for Gilmour makes it clear that a huge emotional weight had been lifted from the hearts and minds of Leafs' fans with the cup runs of 93 and 94. Doug Gilmour saved the Maple Leaf franchise, with only slightly less bloodshed than the Civil War. In this analogy Wendel would be General Sherman, you're not allowed to disagree with that. Much like Lincoln Gilmour's contribution to the Maple Leafs was for only a few years but its importance cannot be denied. One final and admittedly eerie similarity, both suffered history altering head wounds.
Theodore Roosevelt: Mats Sundin
Roosevelt is on Mount Rushmore for bringing the United States into the 20th Century. For those of you who don't remember, the Gilded Age sucked; unless of course you were John Rockefeller, but you were most certainly not. Roosevelt assumed the Presidency after that jerk McKinley was assassinated in Buffalo by an anarchist over what one must assume was a matter of minor financial squabbling. Roosevelt was a war hero known for his love of a life filled with strenuous hard work and killing thing for sport. He also defined American Foreign policy in the early 20th Century. He is known for his mantra of "Speak softly and carry a big stick". Those words are the definition of Mats Sundin. The first two years when Sundin became Captain the Leafs were in trouble, they had missed the playoffs for two years straight and the success of 92 and 93 seemed like a distant memory. They would make the playoffs for the next six seasons with two trips to the Conference Finals. Sundin was the unquestionable leader of that team and he brought the Maple Leafs into the 21st Century. I was 11 when Sundin was named Captain from the age of 13 to 18 I took it for granted that the Leafs would make the playoffs, I even believed that they had a legitimate shot at the Cup, Mats Sundin was the reason for my faith. Interestingly the careers of Sundin and Roosevelt have another similarity. After serving as President Teddy went on Safari in Africa and then on vacation in Europe. When he returned he decided he wanted to run for President again he attempted to join the Republicans again but was unable to so he started his own Party and aligned himself with the Progressive Movement, no word on how long he took to make said decision though.
So there you have it, Mount Puckmore by the Presidents.