A GODD TILL AND KIM JORN JOINT
Bates Battaglia. Garnet Exelby. Ken Klee. Aki Berg. Mark Bell. Alexander Khavanov. Kyle Wellwood. Ben Ondrus. Andre "Bell Biv" Deveaux. Jason Allison. Kris Newbury. Travis Green. Jason Blake. Clarke "The Original Clarke" Wilm. What do all of these players have in common? They all make your eyelid twitch involuntarily? Make you want to reach for the sweet relief of warm bourbon, so what if it is 11 AM, MOTHER? I'll tell you what they have in common: none of them are bad enough to crack the following list, the definitive accounting of the ten worst players to suit up during the worst era in franchise history. Indeed, as we survey the salted fields and locust-swirled skies of the last six years, a stretch so horrible you could make a list of the ten worst goalies alone and not include any of the current group (it's true, check inside), just being terrible wasn't bad enough. These ten had something extra.
10. Brendan Bell
A real throwback for Leafs fans, Brendan combined the defensive toughness of Phil Housley with the offensive flair of Garth Butcher. A native of the Ottawa area, Brendan had some nebulous connection to Cox Bloc; gleefully anticipating the inside scoops this would deliver our fledgling blog, we nicknamed him "Pipeline". Unfortunately, Brendan's porous defence was not matched by generosity with the inside poop. Instead, we were treated to gems like "Bryan McCabe is really funny" (off the ice too, apparently) and "Mats Sundin has a nice house" (He doesn't live in Malvern? Huh.) While Brendan moved on to a stint with the Senators, his career has since picked up, as he now turns out for Biel in the Swiss League. Now that we're blogging again, maybe we'll get back in touch with Pipeline and let PPP readers know how good Tyler Arnason is at Call of Duty or what Rico Fata likes on his pizza. Watch this space!
9. Jeff O'Neill
Charter member of JFJ's Final Contract Club. A luxury player from the 99-cent bin. Along with Jason Allison, formed two-thirds of the Entropy Line. I would say they skated backwards faster than they skating forwards, but of course I never saw them skating towards their own end. O'Neill was fingered as a likely suspect in the scandal about Leafs players being more concerned with postgame dinner reservations than their upcoming contest. I seriously doubt it was Jeff. As everyone knows, you don't need reservations at Arby's.
8. Rikki Wallin
Couldn't provide enough offence to stick with the Minnesota Wild, but Leafs picked him up after a couple of point-a-game seasons in the Swedish Elite League, which raises the question: What the #*%& happened to the Swedish Elite League? Was brought over to help Jonas Gustavsson adapt to the NHL game. It probably would have done a lot more good for the Monster's confidence, and numbers, if Wallin had been playing for Montreal or Boston. He did adapt well to the North American game in one respect: depsite the smaller ice surface, had no problem making himself completely invisible.
7. Boyd Devereaux
Exhibit A for the proposition that just because a player played for a good team, they may not in fact be good themselves. For Exhibit B, see #3 on this list. Wouldn't rank this high except for the legendary hat trick he scored vs Ottawa on the last day of 2007 season, thus lifting the Leafs out of the draft lottery, destroying any chance of a #1 pick, and aptly summing up the organization's approach to the draft lo these many barren years. Now owns a company that makes cameras that produce super slow motion hockey footage, an idea he got while playing with Jeff O'Neill.
6. Mariusz Czerkawski
Possibly the worst winger ever brought in to play with Mats Sundin, which is like saying someone is the least talented member of the Black Eyed Pea or the most illiterate Flyers fan. If Mats could have restarted The Polish Prince's career we wouldn't be arguing about whether he should be in the Hall Of Fame, we'd be arguing about whether he and Wendel are individual sons of God or separate manifestations of a singular deity.
5. Nathan Perrott
Much like Chris Neil, Perrot earned a reputation as a tough-guy without ever really winning any fights. Played the bulk of his career as a Leaf prior to the lockout, but his play in the 2005-06 season (3 games, no points, no fights, 2 pim) gave Leafs fans a glimpse of what was to come in the Truculence Era: Kris Newbury, Andre Deveaux, Jamal Mayers and a bunch of other guys who were supposed to bring the sandpaper but left it at home under their dog-eared copies of "Fight like Iron Mike" by Hamilton's own Mike Sharpe. Apparently smart enough to realize that splitting his meager talents between skating and punching seriously reduced his chances of succeeding at either, Perrott hung up his skates after stints in Russia and Texas in order to pursue a boxing career. Won his first professional fight on September 11, 2009
but has since returned to his Leafs form, getting knocked in the first round of his most recent match.
4. Alexander Suglobov
The Leafs traded him for Ken Klee... and lost the trade. Suglobov was like Sergei Berezin without the talent. Alex wore the number 9, number of Howe and Richard, Teeder and Hull, which was like Eklund wearing a press credential or Ben Mulroney wearing a real job.
3. Brett Lebda
By now, you all know the numbers. But the numbers, as horrific as they are, barely scratch the surface of the secrets of Lebda. If Luke Schenn sees Brett Lebda on the way to the arena, he drives all the way home and starts over again. When Freddie Sjostrom was competing with another suitor for his maiden's hand, he he placed a lock of Brett Lebda's hair across his rival's doorway. Within three weeks,that man had been stricken with leprosy - and driven completely insane. If you rearrange the letters of the name of the Titanic's captain, they read "BRETT L TO PLAY FOR LEAFS". Local hospitals call and ask the Leafs to visit their patients - and to beg Brett Lebda to stay away.
2. Andy Wozniewski
Make-A-Wish. Herpes. The Wizard of Woz. Those of you who saw him murder hockey and torture children with his play
can be asking only one question upon seeing him at #2 - "Are you shitting me?"
But upon intense review, we agreed that it would be inappropriate for Andy Wozniewski to be #1 at anything, including this list. You know how young NHLers always talk about the difference between the AHL and the NHL? Statistics show that Andy Wozniewski was 43% of the difference.
1. Ryan Hollweg
Ever gone to a wedding where someone gets really hammered, then gets up and starts making a speech? And the entire wedding is staring in terror, sphincters clenched, thinking "Don't do something terrible, don't do something terrible"?
That was pretty much the same feeling that I had during every shift Hollweg took for the Leafs. Given his reckless disregard for human life and inability to execute a snowplow stop on skates, we were pretty lucky Hollweg didn't kill anyone, which is pretty much the only way the last six seasons could have been any worse.
EXTRA BONUS TEARS WITH THE TEN WORST GOALIES:
10. Jean-Sebastien Aubin
9. Mikael Tellqvist
8. Eddie Belfour
7. Martin Gerber
6. Curtis Joseph
5. Scott Clemmensen
4. Joey Joe Joe Shabadoo MacDonald
3. Justin Pogge
2. Vesa Toskala
1. Andrew Raycroft