Great­est Leafs snipers of all time

How does Phil Kes­sel, the Maple Leafs $64-mil­lion mir­a­cle man stack up?

Richmond Hill Post - - Looking Back -

The Toronto Maple Leafs have le­git­i­mate play­off (dare we say, Stan­ley Cup?) as­pi­ra­tions, and cur­rent winger Phil Kes­sel is the team’s cer­ti­fied gun­slinger. His weapon of choice: a Bauer hockey stick.

As the goal-scor­ing leader on the Toronto Maple Leafs, the star has some big shoes to fill when it comes to putting the puck in the net when com­pared to the sto­ried fran­chise’s great­est play­ers.

One player that must be in­cluded in any dis­cus­sion re­gard­ing top Leafs scor­ers is the great Char­lie Conacher, who played for the Leafs in the ’ 30s. A prod­uct of Toronto’s St. Michaels Col­lege, Conacher, known for good rea­son as “the Big Bomber,” led the league in scor­ing five times.

Dave Keon is a win­ner. He could be the best player to ever don a Leafs jer­sey and cer­tainly one of the most pop­u­lar and will al­ways be re­mem­bered as the glue that held the team to­gether enough to win four Stan­ley Cups. He also led the team in goals on two oc­ca­sions and in scor­ing three times.

The Harold Bal­lard era didn’t bring much suc­cess to the team, and most fans would rather for­get it ever hap­pened, but sniper Rick Vaive makes a worth­while re­mem­brance.

Here was a player who did one thing very well: steam­ing down the right wing, blast­ing shots be­hind hap­less goal­tenders. Vaive was so adept at bulging the twine that he still holds the team’s sin­gle sea­son goal-scor­ing record at 54 (1981–1982). Bal­lard traded him. Natch.

And there is no doubt that the last great scor­ing ma­chine was Mats Sundin. An im­pos­ing phys­i­cal fig­ure, Sundin left the game af­ter 18 NHL sea­sons in which he scored a whop­ping 564 goals — the first Swedish player to pot more than 500. The beloved Leafs player was en­shrined in the NHL Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.

Other Leafs greats with a pen­chant for whizzing pucks past un­sus­pect­ing goalies in­clude the mus­ta­chioed won­der Lanny Macdonald; Dave An­dr­ey­chuk who scored 53 goals in 1993–1994 and, of course, Frank Ma­hovlich.

Of course, scor­ing goals re­ally doesn’t mean much with­out that big mug that goes along with suc­cess as a team. And that’s what Kes­sel re­ally needs to do to be one of the Leafs greats.

Su­per­sniper Phil Kes­sel has led the Maple Leafs in goal scor­ing since join­ing the team for the 2009-10 NHL sea­son

L–R: Maple Leafs all-time goal scor­ers in­clude Dave Keon, Char­lie Conacher and Rick Vaive

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