Sundin, Cujo headline Leafs All-Decade team


With the end of the first decade of the new millenium rapidly approaching, I thought it would be a good idea to try and put together a Leafs roster from the last ten seasons. As I’ve started to look back at some of the teams that Toronto has iced in the last few years, it’s interesting to note that there are very few players that actually ended up playing more than 3 or 4 seasons with any real success. Kinda makes the lack of success since the lockout easier to understand.


Curtis Joseph gets the starting job, without question in my mind. Cujo had some of the best years of his career with the Leafs, and carried them to the Conference Finals in ’99 and ’02. He won at least 30 games in 3 of the 4 seasons he played in the Blue and White, and won 29 in 2001-02, when he appeared in only 51 games. His worst GAA during his tenure as a Leaf – 2.56 in ’98-99.

Ed Belfour gets to dress as the backup for the all-decade team. Belfour came in when Joseph left, and helped Leafs fans move on quickly, setting the franchise record for wins with 37 in 2002-03. He had perhaps the greatest game of his career in the playoffs against Philadelphia that season, making 72 saves in an overtime loss. I almost forgot that the next season, he set a record for longest shutout streak in the playoffs when he blanked the Sens three times in a row.

Mats Sundin – need I say any more? The big Swede played 13 seasons with the Leafs, and holds the franchise records for most points and goals scored (he’s second in assists). The longest serving European captain in history, Sundin wore the C for over a decade after getting it when Doug Gilmour was traded in ’97. Sundin did it all – except win a Cup.

Alexander Mogilny had some much better seasons in his career than the years he played in Toronto, but he was a crucial part of the successful Leafs teams pre-lockout. Mogilny was the only Leaf to ever score more points than Mats Sundin in a single season (33 goals, 79 points in ’02-03), and was perhaps the only top-caliber forward that Sundin ever got to play with.

Gary Roberts was another player in the autumn of his career when he came to the Leafs, but when Pat Quinn paired him with Sundin and Mogilny on the top line in the early 2000s, he brought just the right amount of toughness to the playmaking and goalscoring of the two Europeans. “Scary Gary” brought it hard every night, even when he was hurt. Plus, can you really argue with that goatee?

Phil Kessel is in his first season in Toronto, but he’s clearly one of the most talented players to don the blue and white sweaters in recent years.

Matt Stajan might be the biggest Phil Kessel fan around right now. The young center has played his entire career in Toronto, and is finally looking like he could be turning into the top-line forward the Leafs have hoped he would be for some time now. He had a breakout season in ’08-09, scoring 55 points, but is on pace to break that mark and score 25 goals this year.

Alexei Ponikarovsky has been one of the most hot and cold Leafs for the last decade. After showing incredible promise in Russia, Poni was a highly touted prospect in the system for some time. Pre-lockout, he was a major disappointment, but has finally started to produce on a regular basis in the past few seasons, scoring 61 points in ’08-09.

Nik Antropov is one of my least favorite Leafs of all time. A waste of size, talent and a first round draft pick if you ask me. But, he played on the top line for pretty much every season after the lockout, and managed to score 56 points in 2007-08, and 46 points in 63 games the following year.

Alex Steen was another first round selection by Toronto that never fully panned out. The speedy center scored 45 points in his rookie season, but never scored more than 15 goals for the Leafs after that.

Ron Francis/Joe Nieuwendyk/Owen Nolan – any one of these three players would be a Leafs legend if they had joined the team in say, 1995. But none of them did. Nolan and Nieuwendyk combined for 98 points one season, helping the Leafs make the playoffs in ’04. Francis played only 24 games as a Leaf, 12 of them in the playoffs during the same year.

Darcy Tucker/Tie Domi/Shayne Corson – This would be the 4th line for my all-decade team. Domi was a great fighter, and had over 200 penalty minutes twice this decade. Corson was the definition of a grinder, and racked up 189 penalty minutes in 2000-01. Tucker was a huge fan favorite and one of my favorite pests. The best season of his career was ’05-06, when he had 61 points and 100 penalty minutes.

Tomas Kaberle – The smooth skating Czech has been a cornerstone of the Leafs blueline for the entire decade, and is currently leading the team in points.

Bryan McCabe was a great combination of offense and physical play, although his defense often left something to be desired. Still, he had over 50 points three times for the Leafs before being traded in 2008.

Dmitri Yushkevich had most of his better seasons with the Leafs in the late ’90s, but with a serious shortage of talented d-men in the past few seasons, he makes the squad here more on his reputation than his performance after the turn of the century.

Luke Schenn had a fantastic rookie season last year, and, although he’s come under alot of scrutiny this season, I see him as the future of the Leafs defensive corps. Again, good luck finding Leafs d-men that played well over extended periods of time during this decade to replace him.

Aki Berg/Wade Belak – these two bruisers would be on the ice with that 4th line. Belak had over 100 penalty minutes in just about every season he played with the Leafs, while the 6’3, 213 lb Berg had no shortage of big hits during his days in Toronto.