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Thursday’s FTB: The Top 10 John’s to play for the Maple Leafs

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Like, people named John, not the other kind.

Cobra du Cap Photo by Werner LAYER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Good morning Toronto Maple Leafs fans and those searching for anything to fill the time until they can leave the house again.

A few weeks back I asked for any possible idea to fill these spaces with words and today we’ll be looking at the first idea that popped into my mind when I asked this, so no it’s not one of your ideas. Today we’ll be reviewing “The Top 10 Toronto Maple Leafs Players Named John”.

My mind is weird.

Over the past century of play the Maple Leafs have featured 20 players with the first name ‘John’. Eighteen have been skaters and two were goaltenders. On average they played 117 games, scored 23 goals, added 27 assists, for 50 points each. The two goalies were vastly different players.

Before we get to the top 10, I’ll give a shout out to the John who played the fewest games for the Maple Leafs, but had a big impact: John McLellen. A centre for the Toronto St. Michael’s in the OHA, he would be signed by the Leafs and would turn pro in the AHL with the Pittsburgh Hornets in the 1950-51 season. It would be just two seasons before he got his shot in the NHL, being called up in the 1951-52 season for two games. That would be it for his NHL career, however he would continue in the minor leagues with the Hornets and Cleveland Barons in the AHL, Milwaukee Falcons in the IHL, and Nashville Dixie Flyers of the EHL where he would become player-coach in his final season, then full time head coach in 1963-64 and would give the Flyers back to back championships in 1966 and 1967. He would move on to the CHL and become head coach of the Tulsa Oilers in 1967-68, winning another championship. He’d get called up to the NHL once again, this time becoming head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs for four seasons from 1969-1973 with a brief mid-season stint in 1978-79. He would end his Leafs tenure with a 126-139-45 record.

Now, the top 10 John’s to ever play for the Maple Leafs:

10 - Johnny Wilson - LW - 1959-1960 - 73GP - 15G - 17A - 6PM

Our first John is a Johnny and was a long time member of the Detroti Red Wings, and won multiple Stanley Cups with them. He would be a Maple Leaf for just one full season before being traded to the New York Rangers three games into the 1960-61 season as part of a package to bring in Eddie Shack. He was also the uncle to future Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson.

9 - John Pohl - C - 2005-2008 - 114GP - 17G - 21A - 24PM

Pohl came to the Leafs from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for ‘Future Considerations’ and essentially became a Leaf by default due to the Leafs being terrible. He was the Toronto Marlies AHL All-Star Game representative in 2005-06, and after being released by the Leafs he would play one season in Europe and the AHL before retiring.

8 - John Kordic - RW - 1988-1991 - 104GP - 10G - 6A - 446PM

Most notable for being acquired from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Russ Courtnall, Kordic’s time in Toronto was mostly spent in the penalty box. He would be traded to the Washington Capitals in 1991 along with Paul Fenton (yes, that one) for a 1991 5th round pick that would become Alexei Kudashov.

7 - John-Michael Liles - D - 2011-2014 - 104GP - 9G - 29A - 24PM

Acquired from the Colorado Avalanche for a second round pick at the 2011 draft, Liles was supposed to help anchor the Leafs blue-line and get them back into the playoffs. That didn’t happen, but we did get a good defender - albeit one who had bone-itits - and a story about Liles being traded to the Hurricanes for Tim Gleason minutes before the Leafs took to the ice at the 2014 Winter Classic in Michigan. He is currently (well, not like, now) working as a TV analyst for Colorado Avalanche games.

6 - John Mitchell - C - 2008-2010 - 159GP - 20G - 35A - 76PM

A 2003 5th round pick by the Leafs, Mitchell would make his NHL debut in 2008, settling into the Leafs line up for two and a bit seasons before being traded to the New York Rangers for a 2012 7th round pick that would be used to pick Viktor Loov. Mitchell most recently played for EHC München in the DEL in 2018-19.

5 - John Cullen - C - 1992-1994 - 100GP - 26G - 45A - 120PM

A member of the Cullen hockey family, John followed in the footsteps of his Father Barry and Uncle Brian by playing for the Maple Leafs for two seasons in the early 1990’s. After leaving Toronto he would end up in Tampa Bay, where he would finish his career as an Assistant Coach. He missed the 1997-98 season with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and his battle with cancer helped form the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer Initiative.

4 - John McCreedy - RW - 1941-1945 - 64GP - 17G - 12A - 25PM

McCreedy was a Memorial Cup (1937), Allen Cup (1938, 1940), and World Champion (1939) before he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs. He played for the Leafs in two seasons around his time with the Royal Canadian Air Force, but made the most of it with two Stanley Cups in 1942 and 1945. While his time with the Leafs wasn’t very long, he made an impact on the team and hockey world with his accomplishments. After leaving the Leafs in 1945, he would work for INCO, and make the same mark there he did in hockey, eventually becoming Vice-Chairman.

3 - John Tavares - C - 2018-Present - 145GP - 73G - 75A - 58PM

The current captain of the Maple Leafs, John Tavares left the New York Islanders to achieve his dream of playing for a good, competently run hockey franchise. He would make his Maple Leafs debut by scoring on Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, sending the Scotiabank Arena fans to their feet. His time in Toronto hasn’t ended in a championship - or playoff series win - yet, but it’s early on in his seven year contract.

2 - John Anderson - RW - 1977-1985 - 534GP - 189G -204A - 166PM

He was the Maple Leafs first round pick - 11th overall - in 1977, and played over 500 games with the team. and scored almost 400 points. He was one of the better players on the disastrous Leafs teams of the 70s and 80s and after scoring 30+ goals for four straight seasons, he would be traded to the Quebec Nordiques for Brad Maxwell, a defender who would last one season with the Maple Leafs. Anderson would go on to play for the Nordiques and Whalers before moving on to coaching where he would rise to the rank of Head Coach with the Atlanta Thrashers and Phoenix Coyotes.

1 - Johnny Bower - G - 1958-1970 - 475GP - 0.922sv% - 2.5GAA - 32SO

Who else would it be? One of the most celebrated, decorated, and beloved Toronto athletes of all time, Johnny Bower was a mainstay for the Maple Leafs for over a decade. Winner of three Calder Cups, four Stanley Cups, two Vezina trophies, three AHL MVP awards, his number one retired, a statue on Legends Row, he’s in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and even has a street named after him. Hailing from Prince Albert Saskatchewan, he made Toronto his home and lived in the area until his passing in 2017 at the age of 93. Many people in the GTA have their own stories about meeting Bower at a local coffee shop or at a Leafs game, and thousands attended his memorial at the Scotiabank Arena.

Those are my top ten John’s in Toronto, did I miss anyone?

In other news, this poor soul was awarded a prize he can never claim:

Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner faced off in NHL20:

The newest Maple Leafs podcast is out and it’s about Val James:

This story had me dig up an old one of mine:

Enjoy your day everyone!