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1985-86 Toronto Maple Leafs

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Old
03-11-2017, 09:33 AM
  #1
VaporTrail
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1985-86 Toronto Maple Leafs

I was watching old hockey videos (20 goals leafs and oilers), and I got looking at this roster....A couple of questions....

How did they ever end up with such a bad record ? (25-48-7) The team looked like it was stocked ! I counted at least 11 players that I think were top six or at least second line players....What happened ? Bad defense ?

And, how do you make the playoffs with a record as horrendous as that ? 57 points ?? lol

Also, never knew Marian Stastny played for them either....Learn something new everyday.

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03-11-2017, 12:10 PM
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First off, keep in mind how high scoring was in the mid-1980s. It looks like Toronto was 'stacked' by 2017 standards, but not really by 1985 standards when everyone had 3rd liners scoring 40-50 points/season. They were 12th of 21 teams offensively - decent depth, not a lot of front-line start talent.

But they were weak because of their defense/goaltending, which was bottom-3 in the NHL.

This is terrible defense/goaltending :

Borje Salming (injured half the year)
Al Iafrate (still a teenager)
Brad Maxwell
Jim Benning
Gary Nylund
Chris Kotsopolous

Don Edwards
Ken Wregget (rookie)

To their credit, they did go on a nice playoff run, coming a game 7 loss away from reaching the Conference Finals ... despite being one of the worst teams ever to make the playoffs, thanks to sharing a division with an all-time terrible Detroit Red Wings team.

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03-11-2017, 07:57 PM
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FerrisRox
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Other than Borje Salming - who had some injury issues that year and played only half the schedule - nobody on this team forwards or defenseman gave a damn about playing defense at all.

The team was horribly coached but there was zero interest from the players in trying to back check at all, zero effort to defend, zero effort to get in pass lanes, zero effort to lift sticks, etc. It was actually incredible to watch. And it wasn't only this season where that plagued this team.

Rick Vaive - who wore the C until he was traded the following year - was notorious for playing essentially like a beer leaguer in a pick up league. He would shamelessly "goal suck" and not engage in play in his own zone and instead wait to see if his team got possession again so he could go back on offense. It was remarkable to see at the NHL level.

This particular team had a young Russ Courtnall who played no defense at all and Steve Thomas and Wendel Clark, at the beginning of their careers, were also horrible in this regard. Clark, who was the 1st round pick the previous spring was epically terrible defensively which was astounding because he had actually been drafted as a defenseman. He would routinely take himself out of plays by throwing hits (I have never seen a guy that could hit as well as Clark but somehow also always take himself out of the play in the process. His hits would be thundering, but he would often end up on the ice as a result of his own hit.) Miro Frycer who led this team in scoring was soft and disinterested and Tom Fergus, who put up numbers and later developed some two way ability, showed none of that here.

All of that being said, the real issues were on the actual blueline where they were well below NHL quality and the goaltending was only marginally better.

This was an awful awful team.


Last edited by FerrisRox: 03-11-2017 at 09:57 PM.
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Old
03-11-2017, 08:50 PM
  #4
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Originally Posted by FerrisRox View Post
This was an awful awful team.
... it was indeed, and your synopsis accurate.... I'd actually purged memories of those teams from my mind entirely... memory wash.... Miroslav who?... Tom Fergus? Never heard of the guy... and you come along & destroy years of therapy.... yeah... thanks Ferris.... preciate it.

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03-11-2017, 08:59 PM
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The Panther
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They were even worse the previous (1984-85) season, with 48 points (of course, deservedly missing the playoffs). 1984-85 may be the single worst season in Leafs' franchise history. What's notable, however, is that they were dead-last in offense that season. But in 1985-86, it was changing a bit because -- as the OP noted -- they suddenly had a lot of young, high-picks (Courtnall, Clark, Fergus) who were offensively talented, and the team jumped up to 12th offensively.

What young forwards tend not to do well, however, is play defense. 386 goals against...!

1986-87 wasn't a lot better. Here's a Toronto @ Edmonton highlights from February 1987. Check out, in particular, the 4th and 5th goals by Edmonton (Kurri) in the sequences starting at about 1:30. What the hell are the Leafs doing on defence??:

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Old
03-11-2017, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by The Panther View Post
But in 1985-86, it was changing a bit because -- as the OP noted -- they suddenly had a lot of young, high-picks (Courtnall, Clark, Fergus) who were offensively talented, and the team jumped up to 12th offensively.
Not that it matters, but Tom Fergus wasn't a high pick - he was a late third rounder - and wasn't selected by the Maple Leafs. He had been acquired in a straight up swap for Bill Derlego.

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Old
03-12-2017, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by The Panther View Post
1986-87 wasn't a lot better. Here's a Toronto @ Edmonton highlights from February 1987. Check out, in particular, the 4th and 5th goals by Edmonton (Kurri) in the sequences starting at about 1:30. What the hell are the Leafs doing on defence??:
That video starts out with the line "It's Allan Bester. And he is prepared for anything the Oilers will fire at him tonight."

I'm not sure I've ever seen someone proved so wrong so quickly.

Side note: I've always thought Bester looks like Belfour in the net (early in the Eagle's career at least). Similar stance, similar equipment. Different results of course but just a weird thing that always pops up in the back of my mind when I watch footage of Bester.


Last edited by Sutter pours bourbon: 03-12-2017 at 06:19 PM.
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03-12-2017, 07:20 PM
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Everytime I watch clips from the 80's i'm just blown away by how awful the goaltending is.

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Old
03-13-2017, 08:25 AM
  #9
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Originally Posted by MullerBrotenVerbeek View Post
Everytime I watch clips from the 80's i'm just blown away by how awful the goaltending is.
Dude. If you watch clips of goals scored in blow-outs, goalies are not going to look good in any era, including now. Allan Bester is no one's standard of good, anyway.

Pretty good goaltending here, just two months after the clips I posted above:


So fun to see Fuhr and Puppa flying around, ducking and diving, gambling, and skating.

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Old
03-15-2017, 05:38 AM
  #10
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The Leafs made the playoffs that year basically because the Detroit Red Wings went through one of their worst ever seasons (40 points and with Stevie Y and others out for long periods of time with injuries, bad coaching, etc).

I never understood why the Pittsburgh Penguins were not granted their request to move to the Norris division as that would have given them at least two or three more seasons in the playoffs and kept the Leafs (with kindly H Ballard in charge) from qualifying for post season play with easily the worst regular season records to do so in all of the four major professional sports leagues (NHL, NBA, NFL, and MLB).

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Old
03-15-2017, 10:43 AM
  #11
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Originally Posted by ICM1970 View Post
I never understood why the Pittsburgh Penguins were not granted their request to move to the Norris division as that would have given them at least two or three more seasons in the playoffs and kept the Leafs (with kindly H Ballard in charge) from qualifying for post season play with easily the worst regular season records to do so in all of the four major professional sports leagues (NHL, NBA, NFL, and MLB).
In bold (quoted), I think you answered your own question.

Although the mid- to late-80s was one of the more entertaining periods in NHL history, the management was completely incompetent (not for the last time). Decisions made by the NHL in this period:
- We won't pay for Gretzky's airfare to appear on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
- We will give in to Cliff Fletcher and cronies' demands to eliminate 4-on-4, since that's far too exciting and showcases skilled players too much. Wouldn't want that.
- We won't put Mario Lemieux in the Norris division, since he might then get into the playoffs and be amazing for the hockey-world to see. We'd rather have Toronto getting in with 45-point seasons, while the Rangers with 80+ points miss.
- We won't negotiate with striking officials after flagrant abuse of one is aired on national TV. We will send in replacement officials to do a playoff game -- officials who can barely skate. Good for League P.R., that.
- We will take months to decide on suspensions of isolated playoff incidents -- months that guarantee the victimized team will not benefit in any way from the suspension. (By the way, if you take out someone's knees and cost them their career, that's going to be at least a $5000 fine!)
- We will pressure committee members to elect Gil Stein to the Hall of Fame for doing nothing whatsoever.

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03-15-2017, 01:15 PM
  #12
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Originally Posted by The Panther View Post
In bold (quoted), I think you answered your own question.

Although the mid- to late-80s was one of the more entertaining periods in NHL history, the management was completely incompetent (not for the last time). Decisions made by the NHL in this period:
- We won't pay for Gretzky's airfare to appear on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
- We will give in to Cliff Fletcher and cronies' demands to eliminate 4-on-4, since that's far too exciting and showcases skilled players too much. Wouldn't want that.
- We won't put Mario Lemieux in the Norris division, since he might then get into the playoffs and be amazing for the hockey-world to see. We'd rather have Toronto getting in with 45-point seasons, while the Rangers with 80+ points miss.
- We won't negotiate with striking officials after flagrant abuse of one is aired on national TV. We will send in replacement officials to do a playoff game -- officials who can barely skate. Good for League P.R., that.
- We will take months to decide on suspensions of isolated playoff incidents -- months that guarantee the victimized team will not benefit in any way from the suspension. (By the way, if you take out someone's knees and cost them their career, that's going to be at least a $5000 fine!)
- We will pressure committee members to elect Gil Stein to the Hall of Fame for doing nothing whatsoever.
Lol, you are probably quite right on that front.

You could also add in "We will not suspend Ulf Samuelsson or even call a high sticking penalty on Gates Orlando when they gouged the eyes of Pierre Mondou and Charlie Simmer, respectively. Ones like Samuelsson and Orlando can do what they want but we want to pass the instigator rule for fighting."

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Old
03-15-2017, 02:08 PM
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FerrisRox View Post
Rick Vaive - who wore the C until he was traded the following year - was notorious for playing essentially like a beer leaguer in a pick up league. He would shamelessly "goal suck" and not engage in play in his own zone and instead wait to see if his team got possession again so he could go back on offense. It was remarkable to see at the NHL level.
I guess now I understand all those Vaive/Kessel comparisons during his time in Toronto, as I was too young to watch Vaive.

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Old
03-15-2017, 03:14 PM
  #14
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Originally Posted by The Panther View Post
In bold (quoted), I think you answered your own question.

Although the mid- to late-80s was one of the more entertaining periods in NHL history, the management was completely incompetent (not for the last time). Decisions made by the NHL in this period:
- We won't pay for Gretzky's airfare to appear on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
- We will give in to Cliff Fletcher and cronies' demands to eliminate 4-on-4, since that's far too exciting and showcases skilled players too much. Wouldn't want that.
- We won't put Mario Lemieux in the Norris division, since he might then get into the playoffs and be amazing for the hockey-world to see. We'd rather have Toronto getting in with 45-point seasons, while the Rangers with 80+ points miss.
- We won't negotiate with striking officials after flagrant abuse of one is aired on national TV. We will send in replacement officials to do a playoff game -- officials who can barely skate. Good for League P.R., that.
- We will take months to decide on suspensions of isolated playoff incidents -- months that guarantee the victimized team will not benefit in any way from the suspension. (By the way, if you take out someone's knees and cost them their career, that's going to be at least a $5000 fine!)
- We will pressure committee members to elect Gil Stein to the Hall of Fame for doing nothing whatsoever.
Were they thinking of moving the Penguins to the Norris? I've never heard of it before, but just imagine Mario feasting on the likes of the 80's Leafs, Red Wings and North Stars on a regular basis.

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03-15-2017, 04:33 PM
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This is the first I've heard of Pittsburgh wanting to change divisions. I hated seeing garbage teams from the Norris getting in the playoffs while better teams missed, but the solution should've been to change the playoff format to include wild card teams.

Putting one team in a new division just for the sole purpose of making it easier for a specific player to make the playoffs is wrong.

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03-16-2017, 11:48 AM
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"Putting one team in a new division just for the sole purpose of making it easier for a specific player to make the playoffs is wrong."

I don't believe it was just for the sole purpose of having Mario Lemieux making the playoffs. The Patrick division was a very competitive one at the time (save for New Jersey at the time and they were a relatively new team then) and it would have made sense for a young and up and coming team like Pittsburgh at the time to be moved to a division where it was known as the "Snoreris" division because of the weaker teams there to make that division stronger. The Penguins would have possibly made for an interesting addition to that division that already featured the Stevie Y Red Wings (another young and developing team), Doug Gilmour St Louis Blues, and Denis Savard Chicago Blackhawks.

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Old
03-18-2017, 02:09 PM
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I guess now I understand all those Vaive/Kessel comparisons during his time in Toronto, as I was too young to watch Vaive.
Phil Kessel was much much much more talented than Rick Vaive.

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03-18-2017, 11:41 PM
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Originally Posted by FerrisRox View Post
Phil Kessel was much much much more talented than Rick Vaive.
You think so? I dunno, I think it's close right now. I can see where Kessel is going to end up with the better career, especially with his Cup-run last spring. But Vaive did score 50+ goals three seasons in a row on a dismal team -- no Leaf previously had even done that once. And then he had five or six 30+ goal seasons after that, including a 43-goal season for Chicago when he matched Savard and Larmer in goals.

He was quite a floater, though.

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03-18-2017, 11:45 PM
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To think we almost had consecutive Leafs-Oilers Campbell Conference Finals in 1986-1987

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03-19-2017, 10:02 AM
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You think so? I dunno, I think it's close right now. I can see where Kessel is going to end up with the better career, especially with his Cup-run last spring. But Vaive did score 50+ goals three seasons in a row on a dismal team -- no Leaf previously had even done that once. And then he had five or six 30+ goal seasons after that, including a 43-goal season for Chicago when he matched Savard and Larmer in goals.

He was quite a floater, though.
Kessel is miles better at making plays and carrying the puck than Vaive ever was, so that has to be considered as well.

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03-19-2017, 08:23 PM
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You think so? I dunno, I think it's close right now. I can see where Kessel is going to end up with the better career, especially with his Cup-run last spring. But Vaive did score 50+ goals three seasons in a row on a dismal team -- no Leaf previously had even done that once. And then he had five or six 30+ goal seasons after that, including a 43-goal season for Chicago when he matched Savard and Larmer in goals.

He was quite a floater, though.
Fifty goals then was 30 goals today though, and he scored 50 goals by literally abandoning any other responsibilities on the ice.

Ten guys had fifty goals in the first year Vaive did it. 7 guys did it the next year with three eclipsing 60 goals with 16 guys scoring 45 or more. The third year 8 guys did it. 50 goals sounds like rarified air, but back then, it really was much much more commonplace.

In all the time I've watched hockey, I have never seen a guy as selfish as he was in terms of simply padding his own personal stats with absolutely zero effort in any other regard and he couldn't care less if the team won or loss.

It's was truly remarkable.

Kessel is a much better skater, much more well rounded offensively and much more talented one on one. I don't think Vaive does a single thing better than Kessel.


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Old
03-19-2017, 10:35 PM
  #22
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Fifty goals then was 30 goals today though
I would say that's a bit of a stretch. Maybe I could see 35 or 40 goals today being like 50 then, but anyway...

I'm not on the Vaive-bandwagon, don't worry. I agree Kessel's better. I'm just sayin', let's give Vaive a little respect. He's been kind of wiped out of history or something.

(Checks stats...)

Vaive is actually 8th in NHL goals from 1980-81 through 1987-88, so that's pretty good, considering he was mostly on a garbage team. (He's actually ahead of Stastny, Savard, and Hawerchuk on that list for those seasons.) And he's 6th in goals from 1980 to 1985. Not too shabby.

Kessel is 5th in NHL goals from 2008-09 through 2013-14. A little stiffer competition for Vaive, though, I guess.

They're probably about even as snipers. But yeah, Kessel's overall game is way better, no doubt.

At least admit that Vaive's waistline was probably a little smaller than Kessel's. Let's give him something.

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Old
03-20-2017, 07:09 PM
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I would say that's a bit of a stretch. Maybe I could see 35 or 40 goals today being like 50 then, but anyway...
I had listed ten 50 goal scorers the first season Vaive hit 50 ... Last year only 8 guys had 35 goals or more. So I will revise and say a 50 goal scorer in 1981 is a 35 goal scorer today.

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Vaive is actually 8th in NHL goals from 1980-81 through 1987-88, so that's pretty good, considering he was mostly on a garbage team. (He's actually ahead of Stastny, Savard, and Hawerchuk on that list for those seasons.) And he's 6th in goals from 1980 to 1985. Not too shabby.
It can't be overstated that all Vaive did was score goals. He played zero defense, he couldn't care less if his team won or loss, he floated around, never passed, and scored goals. Comparing him to other guys that were actually hockey players is a bit of a stretch.

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Old
03-20-2017, 08:08 PM
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His goal to assist ratio is very Cy Youngish..

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