The other trade that day was to acquire veteran goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere from the Anaheim Ducks. The Leafs sent Jason Blake and Vesa Toskala the other way.
This trade was less about the future and more about dumping two overpriced assets in Blake and Toskala, as well as stabilizing the Leafs crease. Toskala at the time of his trade had played in 26 games for the Leafs with a .874 SV%.
The team needed a more capable goaltender to mentor and tandem with young goaltender Jonas Gustavsson that the team acquired the previous summer. “Giggy” did just that in short order, recording back-to-back shutouts in his first two games as a Leaf, setting a franchise record.
Giguere would play the following season in Toronto, before having the starter’s job snapped up by rookie James Reimer who broke onto the scene. Although many would consider the Phaneuf trade to be a failure, the Giguere trade was definitely not. He played 48 games donning the Blue and White, sporting a 17-18-6 record and a .906 SV%.
As someone who was a child at the time of these trades, I can remember the excitement I felt seeing these trades break. It felt like the Leafs were finally turning a new leaf (no pun intended) and building for the future.
I also remember pretending to be Giguere when I played road hockey with my friends. This was a much simpler time in my hockey fandom and failure or not, I cherish these childhood memories and that’s what sports is truly all about.