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The All-Time 7: TSN's Toronto Maple Leafs All-Time Team

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04.05.2020

Sr. Managing Editor of Hockey

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TSN Hockey introduces the All-Time 7 Project. We are naming all-time teams – 21 players, a head coach and GM - for each of the seven Canadian NHL clubs. Today, we continue with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The selection of each team in the TSN All-Time 7 Project poses its own unique challenges, but the most difficult of all was choosing the Toronto Maple Leafs’ centres.

No team’s list of greatest players is as centre-centric as the Maple Leafs.

Consider that when the organization named its all-time best 100 players in 2016 the top five were all centres: No. 1 Keon, No. 2 Syl Apps, No. 3 Teeder Kennedy, No. 4 Darryl Sittler and No. 5 Mats Sundin. Add in No. 13 Doug Gilmour and that’s six of the first baker’s dozen.

Since then a seventh superstar centre has emerged – Auston Matthews.

Here’s the problem: there are only five openings for centres on the all-time Leafs.

And one of those is spoken for: Matthews, who was poised to become the first Leaf to score 50 goals since 1993-94 before this season was put on pause, is the automatic choice to fulfill one of the selection criteria. That is, one player must be from the 2019-20 Leafs.

Make that four openings: centres for three lines and one foundational player – a player identified as being part of the very fabric – the DNA – of the franchise.

Here are the cases for all six, listed in chronological order:

Apps (1936-48), a three-time Stanley Cup winner, was a five-time first or second all-star and five-time finisher among the top three in Hart Trophy balloting for the NHL’s most valuable player.

Kennedy (1943-55) won a Hart Trophy and went five-for-five in Cup finals. When The Hockey News awarded retro Conn Smythes to honour the best playoff performances before the award was introduced in 1965, Kennedy was named a two-time winner (1947 and 1948).

Keon (1960-75) ranks as one of hockey’s greatest two-way forces, combining offensive skill with defensive diligence, including status as a........

© TSN


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