Wanted to have this up yesterday but worked late and then fell asleep watching that laugher of a Monday Night Football game.
When people ask me why I’m still a Leafs fan, it’s a simple answer. The first season of hockey I actually remember was the ’92-93 season. I was 5 years old, and after watching guys like Wendel Clark, Dave Andreychuk, Mike Foligno and Nikolai Borschevsky all year long, I cried like, well, a 5-year old kid when the Leafs lost to Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings that spring. Of course, while all the aforementioned Leafs played a big role in their success that year, the leader, both figuratively and literally, of that squad was Doug Gilmour. He finished that season with 95 assists and 127 points, along with 100 PIM. He chipped in another 35 points and 30 PIM during three grueling 7-game series against the Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles.
At well under 6 feet, and probably weighing in around 175-180 lbs, “Killer” was an obvious fan favorite, not only for his offensive abilities, but because of his work ethic and great play all over the ice. He won the Selke Trophy that season as well, while finishing as a runner up for the Hart and tied for 6th in scoring with none other than Alexander Mogilny. There was nothing Gilmour didn’t do, and the whole team fed off the energy he created, there’s no question about that.
It wasn’t just that season that made him my favorite player, as he played another 4 years in a Leaf uniform before being dealt to New Jersey, but it’s certainly the one that sticks out the most in my memory. To be honest, I was too young at that point to be looking at the game the way we do now, analyzing every possible stat and streaming Leaf games on my phone when I’m not home with my Center Ice package. I was just a kid, loving the greatest game on the planet, listening on crackly AM radio and watching fuzzy TV broadcasts, cheering my tiny ass off for the guy I pretended to be every afternoon playing with my brothers and the neighborhood kids (my deepest apologies to the Timberwalk community recreation facilities for cutting down your tennis nets every spring, but c’mon, road hockey’s obviously more important than tennis).
I don’t have a pile of statistical information to back up why Gilmour is a worthy recipient of hockey’s greatest accolade, although 450 goals, 1414 points and 1301 penalty minutes speak for themselves. Whether or not he ever made the Hall of Fame didn’t matter to me back then, but I’m glad the rest of the hockey world recognized a player I always knew was one of the all-time greats. Enjoy it, Dougie, you earned it.