When ex-Leafs are cured of blue-and-white disease
Last night in Chicago, with 27.8 seconds left in overtime, Viktor Stalberg deflected a shot to give the Hawks a rousing victory over Anaheim.
Stalberg, exiled from Toronto on June 30 after a trade for Kris Versteeg, now has 6 goals and 4 assists this season. He's chipped in two game-winners, racked up 36 shots on net and is even getting time on the Hawks' first line.
Brian Burke, in Chicago yesterday for a USA Hockey symposium, was at the United Center. When Stalberg was informed of this ironic fact after the game, he grinned and said: "That obviously makes it a little bit more fun. It's fun obviously to show him a little bit but he's a great guy and I have nothing against him."
Riddle me this: Why do ex-Leafs flourish when they leave town? And is it my imagination, or does the opposite hold true far less frequently? Since you started following this team, whenever that was, how many times has an ex-player made you wince with regret?
Do we have to start making voodoo dolls of ex-Leafs? Hey, Nashville is in town tomorrow – quick, someone jab a needle into that Wade Belak doll to prevent him from getting a hat trick!
I know Chicago has a top-notch medical community. But how on earth did they manage to cure Stalberg's blue-and-white disease and then infect him with the red fever? After a terrible training camp, he's getting nothing but raves in the Windy City.
And you know what? Stalberg isn't the only ex-Leaf who is tormenting my soul these days.
What? Pavel Kubina has more assists than Tyler Bozak? Excuse me? Jason Blake has more assists than Phil Kessel? Come again? Ian White has as many points as Fredrik Sjostrom, Colby Armstrong, Carl Gunnarsson, Michael Zigomanis and John Mitchell combined?
Look at this blended scoring chart I hastily assembled this morning while sipping Bourbon out of an old Palmateer mug. Apolgies for the formatting – I actually spent 40 minutes trying to get the damn columns to line-up properly! – but here are Toronto's top scorers and the current point totals of some ex-players who've been traded over the past year:
PLAYER GP GOALS ASSISTS POINTS
- Clarke MacArthur 16 7 6 13
- Mikhail Grabovski 16 3 8 11
- Matt Stajan (CGY) 14 1 9 10
- Viktor Stalberg (CHI) 19 6 4 10
- Phil Kessel 16 8 2 10
- Lee Stempniak (PHX) 17 5 4 9
- Nikolai Kulemin 16 4 5 9
- Niklas Hagman (CGY) 16 4 4 8
- Tomas Kaberle 16 0 7 7
- Kris Versteeg 15 2 5 7
- Tyler Bozak 16 2 3 5
People, I know it's Monday. I know the Leafs are nosediving through an eight game losing streak and in grave danger of becoming squatters in the NHL basement. In the East, all that separates the Leafs from the lowly Islanders* is two points.
I don't mean to depress you any further but, holy hell, how do we explain all of this? And last question before I go top up this mug: Why aren't the new Leafs depressing fans in their old cities?
UPDATE 1 P.M.: *And now the Islanders are doing something about it. Coach Scott Gordon was "relieved of his duties" earlier today.
PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS