Ok - so in doing research for another posting on goaltending (which will come down the pipeline later this weekend) I noticed something rather alarmingly odd. See - I noticed that Felix Potvin had the best Leaf's season in goal since 1984 (when Save Percentage first became a recorded stat by the NHL) in the 1992-93 Conference Finals - Kerry Fraser hands things to Gretzky - season.
While noticing that Potvin was the best Leafs goalie in the past 28 years, I then noticed that the only goalie better than him in 1992-93 was... Curtis Joseph... with the best statistical season of his career - for the St. Louis Blues - who Potvin and the Leafs would top in the Norris Division Finals. Then I scrolled down a bit to see what other goalies had top seasons in 1992-93 statistically. Who should top the list? Ed Belfour? Of Chicago? Who had HIS best statistical season in a 43 win Vezina Trophy winning season. That would be the team that St. Louis beat out in the opening round of the playoffs before losing to the Leafs.
So I stopped and thought for 10 seconds about the fact that Doug Gilmour had his highest point total in 1992-93 with 127 points, and then remembered that Dave Andreychuk had his highest goal and point total in 1992-93 with 54 and 99 points respectively (I made sure to check all these numbers and years with hockey-reference.com). So I started to think - what about other former Leafs of the past 28 years? How did they do in 1992-93.
So I started to check, and it got weirder and weirder the more names I looked up. Seriously, the 1992-93 All-Star team of past Leafs is an insane collection of names and results. Here's a listing of the frankly amazing seasons posted in 1992-93 by Former Leafs. As I went further down the NHL point ranking list I stopped adding names after we were out of the top 100 unless they posted a career high.
|NHL Scoring Rk||Player||Age||Tm||GP||G||A||PTS||Career high|
|326||Bryan Marchment||23||CHI||78||5||15||20||313 PIMS|
Look for yourselves and please note that the lineup constructed below is ONLY made up of players that had career highs in the 1992-93 season (with or without the Leafs). In order to entertain I have decided to organize this team into lines and defense pairings - largely based on their 1992-93 numbers:
S1 - Mogilny - Sundin - Thomas (160 goals, 328 pts)
S2 - Andreychuk - Gilmour - Borchevsky (120 goals, 300 pts)
S3 - Bradley - Damphousse - Courtnall (117 goals, 262 pts)
CH - Muller - Reichel - King (115 goals, 258 pts)
D1 - Murphy - Housley (40 goals, 182 pts)
D2 - Iafrate - Cote (46 goals, 116 pts)
D3 - Yushkevich - Gill (16 goals, 75 pts)
G - Joseph-Potvin-Belfour (95-61-27 record, .909 combined SV%)
Extra F - Hogue, Kypreos, Berg
Extra D - Marchment, Eakins
Sitting on the farm? Mike Craig
Just a further note on the goaltending analysis which led me to this initial search. In 1992-93 the average save percentage for a goalie that started 30+ gp was 0.885. That means the Leafs as a TEAM would have had goaltending that is 1.83 Standard Deviations above average. Just to illustrate how ridiculous that is for all 3 goalies, playing a total of 183 games, the equivalent last year would be having 3 goalies post a combined .935 SV%. - that being the number that was 1.83 Standard Deviations above the NHL average of .913 for goalies with 30+ gp. Only 2 NHL goalies posted a SV% over .935 last year, Cory Schneider and Brian Elliott and they played 33 and 38 games respectively. INSANE.
Seriously.... how the hell did the Leafs keep going back to the 1992-93 well on this for the next 20 years? It worked for a while but as we entered the post 2000 era it started to get a bit rocky as a method of picking players.
Enjoy the trip down memory lane - and ask yourselves - was there more to the Universe and Toronto that spring in 1992-93. It seems like some sort of bizarre sporting nexus where the Jays were winning world series, the Argos were doing well, the Raptors and TFC still weren't disappointing us with their failures, and yes... the Leafs of Past, Present, and Future were doing their damnedest to give us some semblance of hope. All of the players on this list have now retired, some are in the hockey hall of fame, and all of them need to get out of our heads. I know this strange search has basically spun me for a loop, so I hope I'm going to find some sort of closure through this weird look back at that season of hope... and hell.