The Best Leaf at Every Number Series continues with No. 2. Before we see who the best is, let’s look at some other notable players who wore the number.
Notable No. 2’s
Carl Brewer, Pierre Pilote, Gary Nylund, Luke Richardson, Ric Nattress, Dallas Eakins, Wade Belak, Brian Leetch, Luke Schenn
Current Holder: Matt Hunwick
Once again, the best Leaf to wear the number is once again the player to wear the number the longest. That player is Ian Turnbull.
Turnbull spent three seasons of his junior career with the Montreal Jr. Canadiens before playing one with the Ottawa 67’s. He would play 235 games in his four years in the Ontario Hockey Association. He scored 86 goals and add 164 assists for a total of 250 points.
All of that lead to the Toronto Maple Leafs drafting him in the first round (15th overall) of the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft. He would join the Leafs immediately, playing all 78 games in the 1973-74 seasons. He scored eight goals and added 27 assists for 35 points in his rookie season. In the following season, it would be fair to say that he went through the dreaded sophomore slump. Only playing 22 games, he totaled only six goals and seven assists for a total of 13 points. He would go on to bounce back.
His best season would come in the 1976-77 campaign. He would again play every game, this time it would be 80 games, and would end up with 22 goals, 57 assists for a total of 79 points. All of those ended up being his career highs. The 79 points still stands as the record for most points in a single season by a Leafs defenseman. He was seventh in voting for defensemen for the end of season All-Star Teams.
He played in the playoffs with the Leafs for eight straight seasons starting in ’73-74. He would play a total of 55 playoff games. He scored 13 goals while adding 32 assists for 45 points. Of course, since he joined the team after 1967, there was no Stanley Cups won during Turnbull’s time with the Leafs.
He would be traded to the Los Angeles Kings on November 11, 1981 in exchange for Bill Harris and John Gibson. Harris would go on to play two and a half seasons with the Leafs but Gibson would only play 27 games with the Leafs before ending his NHL career with the Winnipeg Jets a couple seasons later. Turnbull would finish the 1981-82 season with the Kings before joining the Pittsburgh Penguins for the next season. However, he would play six games for Pittsburgh before having back surgery and then retiring.
Turnbull still holds the NHL record for goals in a game for a defenseman. On February 2, 1977, Turnbull scored five goals in Toronto’s 9-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings. That is an amazing feat in and of itself, but when you consider that those five goals were scored on only five shots makes it nearly unbelievable. He remains the only player in NHL history to achieve that feat.