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"Anybody throws me against the boards I'm gonna piss all over myself."
Visalia, CA • United States •
There are polar opinions on the Leafs decision to recognize two former players with a number honouring ceremony this season. Apparently, some hockey fans belive these players to be unworthy of recognition, for a multitude of reasons. I can respect your opinions, whatever they may be, I don't however, agree with them.

I have a confession to make first off. Doug Gilmour is one of my favorite Buds to ever don the blue and white. It's also the reason I believe he has earned the respect and privelege of having his number honoured at the ACC. You can talk of his only winning one cup (the same number as Ray Bourque) or, the fact that he didn't carry the Leafs into the finals. Or, conversly, you can point to his stats, leading the Leafs in carreer playoff points. Or his '86 season in St. Louis, where he led the leagus in playoff scoring, despite his team not making it past the third round. All these feats, and more, go a long way in explaining why I'm a fan, but they are not the complete picture.

For me, when I hear Doug Gilmour, I think of the 93/94 playoffs. Through three playoff series, he played on a broken ankle. On top of that, he put up points, and showed his team what it would cost to win. On a broken ankle. He skated.

That blows my mind. The sheer will power and strength of mind and body that would take to play through. The Killer, has earned a place in those rafters, despite his lack of Cup success while in Toronto.

Wendel, on the other hand, has no defining moment. His stats never lived up to his draft position, and his one record of note is his time between all-star appearances, 13 seasons. The man did give something to the fans though. Hope. He played like a pitbull. What he couldn't do through skill, he made up for through sheer force of will. Clark played hard, hit hard, and shot hard (ask Cujo about the shot he took off the mask from one of Wendel's patented wristers.) He wore the C with pride, and never took the easy way out or the night off. He spoke to the press, to the players and to the fans. He gave everything he had, and he left it all on the ice. He was a prototypical power forward, and he was ours.

Leafs fans have a soft spot for the warrior with his heart on his sleeve. Darcy, Tie, Wendel, Doug, Darryl, Lanny and on and on. All had varying levels of skill, but one thing they all had in equal, was the love and respect of the Leafs fans.

We have not been lucky enough to find draft day diamonds in the rough. We have not been blessed with passionate ownership or management. We have few memories of success, and fewer of greatness. We continue to watch our team through the lowest of lows, but not yet the highest of highs.

We do have our favorites. Our franchise faces. Our former captains, Crunch and the Killer. And we have every right to honour their numbers.
Filed Under:   Leafs   Doug Gilmour   Wendel Clark  
July 30, 2008 9:51 PM ET | Delete
that was a terrific read, well done.
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