Today is another post with three choices. Eddie Shack, and huge personality in hockey, best known for his mustache, Todd Gill a solid force to put against the opponents top players, or Alexei Ponikarovsky who teamed with Nik Antropov to give us to tall guys together.
Eddie Shack (1960-1967/1973-1975)
Stats: 504GP - 99G - 96A - 195Pts - 676PM
Awards: Stanley Cup - 1962, 63, 64, 67
The New York Rangers tried to trade Eddie Shack once before. They wanted to send him to the Detroit Red Wings but the players coming back from Detroit refused to report so the NHL voided the trade. Ten months later the Rangers sent Shack to Toronto for Pat Hannigan and Johnny Wilson. Over the next seven seasons Shack would average 25 points a season on the third line. He was immensely popular with fans, and a #1 song was written for him: Clear the Track, Here Comes Shack. After the 1967 cup win, Shack was traded to the Boston Bruins for Murray Oliver and cash. He would go from the Bruins to the Sabres to the Kings then to the Penguins before returning to the Maple Leafs (in exchange for cash) for his final two NHL seasons. In his retirement he attends Maple Leafs alumni events and promotes literacy programs.
Todd Gill (1985-1996)
Stats: 629GP - 58G - 209A -267Pts - 909PM
Gill made his Leafs debut in #29 for a ten game stint before returning to the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL in the 84-85 season. He wore #23 for the next 11 seasons with the Leafs. After making the Maple Leafs full time, Gill was like Eddie Shack, an agitator who wasn’t on the team to score goals. While he was healthy he put up quality numbers for someone in his role, and would stick with the Leafs for over a decade. He would be traded in the 95-96 off-season to San Jose, part of owner Steve “Who needs Wayne Gretzky” Stavro’s cost cutting. He’d join the San Jose Sharks, captaining them for two seasons before being traded to the St. Louis Blues. He’d play for the Blues, Red Wings, Coyotes, Avalanche, Blackhawks, and one season in Germany before retiring in 2004. After retirement he would turn to coaching the junior leagues and is currently the head coach of the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack.
Alexei Ponikarovsky (2002-2010)
Stats: 439GP -111G - 140A - 251Pts - 304PM
A fourth round pick, Ponikarovsky spent the majority of his career with the Leafs in #23. He would frequently play with either Matt Sundin or Dynamo Moscow teammate Nik Antropov as his centre. A defensive minded winger for the Leafs, Poni would also contribute offensively, and scored a career high 61 points in the 08-09 season. He would be traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the 2010 trade deadline, bringing back Luca Caputi and Martin Skoula. He hoped to return to Toronto as a free agent, but ended up signing with the Los Angeles Kings. He’s go on to play for the Hurricanes, Devils, and Jets* as well. He is currently captain of Kunlun Red Star in the KHL.
Bob Bailey (1953-1955)
Stats: 80GP - 6G - 9A - 15Pts - 112PM
Bailey spent his first two seasons in #23 with the Leafs, but split both of them with the AHL team. He spent the majority of his career in the minors.
Hugh Bolton (1952-53)
Stats: 18GP - 0G - 0A - 0Pts - 20PM
It would take him a few years, but Hugh Bolton would eventually stick with the Leafs, but not in #23.
Jeff Brubaker (1984-1986)
Stats: 89GP - 8G - 4A - 12Pts - 276PM
A career minor leaguer stuck with the Leafs for a season and a bit before being waived, claimed by the Edmonton Oilers, and then sent to the minors.
Randy Carlyle (1976-1978)
Stats: 94GP - 2G - 16A - 18Pts - 82PM
Randy was a second round pick by the Maple Leafs in the 1976 draft, but he would split his first two professional seasons between the Maple Leafs and the Dallas Blackhawks. He would be traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1978 off season, and eventually become their captain and win the Norris trophy, then he would go and captain the Winnipeg Jets. After retiring he’d become an NHL coach and lead the Maple Leafs to one playoff run in four seasons, and is now back coaching the Anaheim Ducks.
Dave Creighton (1954-55)
Stats: 14GP - 2G - 1A - 3Pts - 8PM
Joining the Leafs in the 1954 off season from the Bruins for Fern Flaman, he would only play 14 games for Toronto before being traded to the Blackhawks for cash. He would later rejoin the Leafs but that’s a story for another number.
Joe Crozier (1959-60)
Stats: 5GP - 0G - 3A - 3Pts - 2PM
A career minor leaguer, Crozier would join the Leafs near the end of his career, getting called up from the Rochester Americans. After that he would switch to coaching, including two half seasons with the Maple Leafs - replaced Punch Imlach midway through the 79-80 season, then fired midway through 80-81.
Harold Druken (2002-03)
Stats: 9GP - 0G - 4A - 2Pts - 2PM
Druken joined the Leafs from the Hurricanes on waivers and played one month as #23 for the team before being put back on waivers and being claimed by the Hurricanes. He would re-join the Leafs in the off season via trade and changed his number to #18.
Vitezslav Duris (1982-83)
Stats: 32GP - 2G - 8A - 10Pts - 12PM
This was his final North American year, after the 82-83 season Duris would finish his career in Germany.
Dave Farrish (1980-1981)
Stats: 94GP - 3G - 26A - 29Pts - 120PM
Farrish came to the Leafs from the Nordiques with Terry Martin in exchange for Reg Thomas. He’d play two years with the Leafs and then spend the next year in the AHL. When he returned to Toronto he switched to #28. He would be an assistant coach with the Leafs from 2012-2014 and most recently was with the Colorado Avalanche.
Eric Fehr (2017-Present)
Stats: 5GP - 0G - 0A - 0Pts - 2PM
Fehr joined the Leafs at last season’s deadline with Steven Oleksy and a pick from the Penguins in exchange for the Frank Corrado. He was injured after one game last season and is currently on loan to the AHL San Diego Gulls.
John Gibson (1981-82)
Stats: 27GP - 0G - 2A - 2Pts - 67PM
Gibson joined the Leafs with Bill Harris from the Kings in exchange for Ian Turnbull midway through the 81-82 season. He’d play the next season with the St. Catharines Saints and then move on to the Jets organization.
Pat Graham (1983-84)
Stats: 41GP - 4G - 4A - 8Pts - 67PM
Graham joined the Leafs in the 1983 off-season, and split the year between the NHL and AHL. He would leave for Germany the next season.
Gord Hannigan (1955-56)
Stats: 48GP - 8G - 7A - 15Pts - 40PM
Hannigan was three seasons deep into his Leafs career when he switched to #23. It was his last, and he would play two more seasons in the minors before retiring.
Pat Hannigan (1959-60)
Stats: 48GP - 8G - 7A - 15Pts - 40PM
Gord’s brother would wear the same number in his Leafs season, but would play longer in the minors. The oldest Hannigan, Ray, also played for the Leafs.
Andre Hinse (1967-68)
Stats: 4GP - 0G - 0A - 0Pts - 0PM
Most of his career was in the minors/WHA but he made it to four Leafs games, and that’s what matters here.
Dave Hutchison (1978-1980)
Stats: 157GP - 5G - 24A - 29Pts - 400PM
Brought to the Leafs from the Kings in a multi-player deal, He would play one and a half seasons for the Leafs before being traded to the Blackhawks for Pat Ribble.
Brooks Laich (2016)
Stats: 21GP -1G - 6A - 7Pts - 2PM
Coming to the Leafs from the Capitals by force because if they wanted Connor Carrick they’d have to take Laich. He played out the 15-16 season with the Leafs but would be demoted to the Marlies for the 16-17 season. He’s now playing with the Los Angeles Kings.
Brett Lebda (2010-11)
Stats: 41GP -1G - 3A - 4Pts - 14PM
Lebda was a free agent who was brought in as comic relief. He was once a -3 in a 9-3 win.
Danny Lewicki (1953-54)
Stats: 7GP -0G - 1A - 1Pt - 14PM
He would go up and down between the NHL and AHL while with Toronto, and would be traded to the Rangers in the 1954 off season.
Billy MacMillan (1970-71)
Stats: 76GP -22G - 19A - 41Pts - 42PM
Billy would debut with the Maple Leafs after several seasons with Team Canada, and after two seasons in Toronto he would be chose by the Atlanta Flames in the 1972 expansion draft. He’d finish his career with several seasons on the NY Islanders.
Shawn Matthias (2015-16)
Stats: 51GP -6G - 11A - 17Pts - 12PM
Matthias was one of the veteran fillers at the start of the 15-16 season. As the season progressed and the Leafs were in their planned bottom of the standings, they would trade these players and let rookies up from the Matthias was sent to the Avalanche for a 4th round pick and Colin Smith.
Ryan O'Byrne (2013)
Stats: 8GP -1G - 1A - 2Pts - 4PM
Claimed off waivers from the Avalanche at the end of the 2013 season, O’Byrne would play eight games for the Leafs and end his career with three seasons in Europe after that.
Noel Price (1957-1959)
Stats: 29GP -0G - 0A - 0Pts - 9PM
Played mostly in the AHL, Price got a few Leafs games in before being traded to the Rangers for Hank Ciesla and Bill Kennedy.
Pat Quinn (1968-1970)
Stats: 99GP -2G - 12A - 14Pts - 183PM
Quinn was a Leafs defender who once injured Bobby Orr and then Bruins fans hung Quinn in effigy from the balcony. His two seasons were split with Rochester, and then he’d go to the Canucks in the 1970 expansion Draft. Quinn would return as head coach from 1998-2006, acting as GM from 1999-2002. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2016.
Al Rollins (1949-1952)
Stats: 112GP -57W - 2.06GAA - 11SO
Awards: 1951 - Vezina Trophy, 2nd place Calder, 8th place Hart
Rollins played two full seasons with the Leafs, he would win the Vezina in his rookie year and be runner up for the Calder. After one more season he would be traded in a package of four players to the Blackhawks for Harry Lumley.
Dale Smedsmo (1972-73)
Stats: 4GP -0G - 0A - 0Pts - 0PM
A seventh round pick who only made it out of the minors for four games.
Trevor Smith (2013-2015)
Stats: 82GP - 6G - 8A - 0Pts - 0PM
He played two years going up and down between the Leafs and Marlies. Served as Marlies captain while in Toronto.
Ken Strong (1982-1984)
Stats: 4GP -0G - 2A - 2Pts - 2PM
Most of his Leafs games were in #32, but even then it wasn’t many. Knowing he wouldn’t make the NHL he’d go and play in Europe for 10 seasons. He’s currently the head coach of the French River Rapids in the NOJHL.
Petr Svoboda (2000-01)
Stats: 18GP -1G - 2A - 3Pts - 10PM
Not that Petr Svoboda, this one was a second round pick for the Leafs in 1998, he played his ELC in St. John’s with one call up then returned to Europe. He’s currently an assistant coach with the Czech national U16 team.
Ray Timgren (1952-53/1954)
Stats: 13GP -0G - 0A - 0Pts - 2PM
He wore #22 for more games, and #23 was mostly in the minors and one game at the start of the 54-55 season before he was traded to the Blackhawks for Jack Price.
Jeff Ware (1996-1998)
Stats: 15GP -0G - 0A - 0Pts - 6PM
The Maple Leafs drafted Jeff 15th overall in 1995, but knee troubles kept him from ever having the career of a first round pick. He would be traded to the Panthers in his final contact season (98-99, spent with St. John’s), and would retire in 2002 after having five knee surgeries over his hockey career.
Who was the best #23 for the Maple Leaf?
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