The Triple Towers
We'll never know if it would have worked.
The concept last summer, when the Leafs came out of the lockout by adding big pivots Eric Lindros and Jason Allison to go with Mats Sundin, was that the threesome would provide size, muscle and scoring at the centre ice position.
With the indomitable Ed Belfour in net, the Leafs would, in theory, have the proverbial strength up the middle that would drive a strong season.
Don't listen to the way in which the team's higher ups are trying to spin this thing now. The plan was to ride the goalie and the Triple Towers into the post-season, not surrender with 12 games left to play.
The risk, of course, was that in Belfour, Lindros and Allison, the Leafs were betting a lot on three players with checkered pasts in terms of injuries.
Then Sundin got hurt as well, right in the very first game of the season back in October.
The captain returned in November but didn't really get his game going until February. Lindros suffered a wrist injury in mid-December and, while he played three more games, his season was essentially done before Christmas.
Allison, finally, missed five games along the way before his season ended Saturday night with a broken hand in a Montreal bareknuckles boxing exhibition.
And remember folks - nobody ever gets hurt in hockey fights.
There was never, really, an extended time when all three were healthy and playing at the same time, and probably that was a faint hope from the start, although all three centres went down with injuries that had nothing to do with previous health problems. By season's end, they will have missed 77 games, assuming Sundin plays the rest of the way, with Lindros accounting for 49 of those matches.
Belfour, of course, faded in, oh, about December, and ended his season earlier this month by essentially disappearing from sight with an apparent back injury.
Interesting, isn't it, how Leafs get hurt and then - poof! - disappear? It happened with Owen Nolan, and this season it happened with Belfour. Lindros, at least, was around for weeks trying to rehab his wrist, and that he tried to play at all before calling an end to his season was a tribute to the man's sense of team.
Nolan never said goodbye. Belfour hasn't had the courtesy to tell those who cheered for him what went wrong with his back.
But honest, folks, they were playing for you all along.
Not only will we never know if the Triple-Towers-plus-Belfour scenario might have worked for the benefit of the Leafs, we'll never get another opportunity.
Belfour is gone, a common-sense buyout this summer after peeling off with about $11 million from the beginning of the lockout until this season. Given his production for that cash, he might as well been wearing a balaclava and carrying a pistol when he signed the contract.
Lindros, 33, may not play again, and if he does, it's unclear whether the Leafs would give him another chance.
The 35-year-old Sundin will be back, of course, but what about Allison?
With 60 points in 66 games, he was, under NHL standards, fairly productive, although the bulk of those numbers were acquired on the power play. He ended a minus-18, was average to poor defensively all season and showed a maddening tendency to turn the puck over in high risk areas.
Allison, still only 30, will make about $3 million for his trouble, and would likely be looking for the same or more next season.
Given his lack of speed, he would appear to be a bad bet for a club that needs to move towards a younger, faster lineup that can be much more productive at even strength and generally more difficult to play against.