It’s December 12, 2012 – or as numerologists with too much time on their hands would like to point out – 12/12/12. Assuming a two-digit year naming convention, the notation will not occur until a century from now on the same day in the year 2112. Thankfully, the legendary band Rush will not have to wait until then to be recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame selection committee.
As the lockout leaves Toronto fans pining to see Tim Connolly play out the final year of his two-year contract, here are a dozen noteworthy players in Leafs history who have worn the number 12 for the blue and white.
1. Gordie Drillon (1936-42): The most recent Leaf to lead the NHL in goals and points, Drillon accomplished the feat with 26 tallies and 52 points in 1937-38, the same year he won the Lady Byng Trophy as the league’s most gentlemanly player. Drillon was a member of the 1942 Stanley Cup winning team that rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the final series against Detroit, but was benched by coach Hap Day after Game 3. A three-time All-Star, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975.
Career Leaf totals: 262 games played, 127 goals, 117 assists, 244 points, 42 penalty minutes.
2. Babe Pratt (1942-46): A standout defenceman, Pratt wore number 12 in his rookie year of 1942-43 before switching to number 2. On January 8, 1944 Pratt set an NHL record with 7 assists in a single game, since equaled by Wayne Gretzky. That season he was named the winner of the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. Pratt won a Stanley Cup with the Leafs in 1945. His career took a downturn a year later when he was suspended by the league for betting on NHL games.
Career Leaf totals: 181 games played, 52 goals, 108 assists, 160 points, 149 penalty minutes.
3. Pete Stemkowski (1963-68): A member of the last Leafs team to win the Stanley Cup, Stemkowski played on a forward line with Bob Pulford and Jim Pappin, with the trio leading the entire league in playoff scoring in 1967. Stemkowski was originally credited with the eventual Cup-winning second period goal in Game 6 against Montreal. However the scoring was changed after it was ruled that his centering pass deflected off Pappin.
Career Leaf totals: 221 games played, 29 goals, 64 assists, 93 points, 247 penalty minutes.
4. Errol Thompson (1970-71, 72-78): The Leafs’ second-round draft choice in 1970 had the good fortune of playing on a line with two future Hall of Famers, Darryl Sittler and Lanny McDonald. He scored a career high 43 goals in 1975-76. In 1978 he was dealt to Detroit in exchange for Dan Maloney, with both teams also exchanging various draft picks in the trade.
Career Leaf totals: 365 games played, 126 goals, 119 assists, 245 points, 70 penalty minutes.
5. Laurie Boschman (1979-82): Boschman finished his final junior season with a phenomenal 149 points in 65 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings, prompting the Leafs to select him ninth overall in the 1979 draft. But the team was on the cusp of its downfall under general manager Punch Imalach and owner Harold Ballard. Boschman was labeled as ‘soft’ by Ballard due to the player’s newly founded born-again Christianity, and finally requested a trade when his mentor Darryl Sittler was moved to Philadelphia. His time as a Leaf ended with a trade to Edmonton.
Career Leaf totals: 187 games played, 39 goals, 70 assists, 109 points, 406 penalty minutes.
6. Jeff Jackson (1984-87): Jackson’s career highlight came not as a Maple Leaf, but as a member of Canada’s gold medal-winning team at the 1985 World Junior Hockey Championship in Helsinki, Finland. The Dresden, Ontario native was a teammate of future Leaf legend Wendel Clark on the squad. Jackson once served as director of hockey administration for Toronto, the team that drafted him 28th overall in 1983.
Career Leaf totals: 77 games played, 9 goals, 10 assists, 19 points, 90 penalty minutes.
7. Mark Osborne (1987-91, 92-94): Osborne had two stints with the Leafs, donning the number 12 after being acquired from the New York Rangers in 1987. He registered a career high 73 points in 1989-90 playing on a line with Ed Olczyk and 50-goal scorer Gary Leeman. When he returned to Toronto after spending two years with Winnipeg, Osborne switched to number 21 and was an integral part of a checking line with Bill Berg and Peter Zezel during the Leafs’ consecutive runs to the conference finals.
Career Leaf totals: 426 games played, 94 goals, 160 assists, 254 points, 563 penalty minutes.
8. Rob Pearson (1991-94): Pearson was the longest-tenured Leafs out of the team’s three first-round draft choices in 1989 that curiously came from one team – the Belleville Bulls. The other two picks – Scott Thornton and Steve Bancroft – didn’t pan out. Pearson was a utility player on the Leafs teams that made it to the final four, two years in a row. He was wearing the number 12 by the time Osborne returned, forcing his teammate choose an alternative.
Career Leaf totals: 192 games played, 42 goals, 49 assists, 91 points, 458 penalty minutes.
9. Brandon Convery (1995-97): An infamous draft bust whose work ethic was often questioned, Convery never lived up to the potential of being the Leafs’ first-round, 8th overall pick in 1992. Other players selected later in that year’s draft were Sergei Gonchar, Mike Peca and Martin Straka. The former Sudbury Wolves player had cups of coffee in Vancouver and Los Angeles before finishing his career in Switzerland.
Career Leaf totals: 50 games played, 7 goals, 10 assists, 17 points, 24 penalty minutes.
10. Kris King (1997-2000): Reunited with his Winnipeg teammate Tie Domi after being signed by the Leafs, the two former Jets played enforcer roles for three seasons together in Toronto. He currently serves as Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations at the NHL’s Toronto offices.
Career Leaf totals: 188 games played, 7 goals, 9 assists, 16 points, 359 penalty minutes.
11.Tom Fitzgerald (2002-04): A fourth-line grinder, Fitzgerald brought to Pat Quinn’s teams the work ethic that he employed throughout his career, particularly as part of a blue collar ‘lunch pail’ Florida Panthers team that made a surprising run to the Stanley Cup final in 1996. On January 13, 2004 in a game against Calgary, both he and teammate Gary Roberts were honoured at Air Canada Centre for playing in their 1000th career NHL games. Fitzgerald is the most recent Leaf to wear number 12 in a playoff series.
Career Leaf totals: 135 games played, 11 goals, 23 assists, 34 points,109 penalty minutes.
12.Lee Stempniak (2008-10): A native of West Seneca, New York, Stempniak was obtained from St. Louis for Alex Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo. He saw third-line duty and played on coach Ron Wilson’s ill-fated penalty-killing systems. Stempniak scored 14 goals in the final eighteen games of 2009-10 after being shipped to Phoenix.
Career Leaf totals: 123 games played, 25 goals, 36 assists, 61 points, 49 penalty minutes.
All totals regular season only.
Rob Del Mundo is the author of Off The Post, and is a regular columnist at TMLfans.ca
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