It’s been some time since we revisited a former NHLer that suited up for the Toronto Maple Leafs that may have not received as much recognition amongst Leafs Nation as others that wore the blue and white. For some, it was the simple fact that they only stayed for a cup of coffee in Toronto, while others were simply forgotten about on the teams they played with.
Even so, some of these players are simply more associated with other teams when their careers are discussed and that’s why they fall under this notion of a ‘forgotten’ Maple Leafs player. With that, let’s delve into the career of a former Maple Leaf, how they came to be in Toronto and how their Leafs career went.
As an NHL defenceman, Eric Brewer played over 1,000 regular season games at the NHL level. He donned a maple leaf for Canada in multiple international tournaments, but in 2014-15, Brewer finished his long career with a short stint in Toronto.
Brewer Becoming a Maple Leaf
For the Maple Leafs, they were looking for something different – someone bigger and more experienced. On March 2, 2015, they shipped Korbinian Holzer – a young defenceman that simply wasn’t getting an opportunity – to the Anaheim Ducks in return for Eric Brewer and a 2016 fifth-round pick.
While the Maple Leafs shipped the pick to the Washington Capitals along with Daniel Winnik, Brewer remained with the team for the remainder of the 2014-15 season.
At 35, the Maple Leafs knew what they were getting in Brewer and likely understood that he would be closing out his career at some point in the near future. And that’s exactly what he did.
Donning the Blue Maple Leaf
The Maple Leafs became Brewer’s third team that season and he closed it out by playing 18 regular season games for them with two goals and five points to go along with 12 penalty minutes.
Like a number of years prior, the Maple Leafs missed out on the postseason in 2014-15 and that spelt the end of Brewer’s NHL career. He finished it by spreading out his season with three teams – including the Maple Leafs, Ducks and Tampa Bay Lightning.
During his tenure in Toronto, Brewer reached the 1,000 regular season game plateau and became one of 115 defenceman to have reached the 1,000-game mark at the NHL level.
The Rest of Brewer’s Career
As for the rest of his career, Brewer made his NHL debut in 1998-99 as a 19-year-old with the New York Islanders following them taking him as the fifth overall pick in 1997. Over his career, he played for six teams – including the Islanders, Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Lightning, Ducks and Maple Leafs.
He played 1,009 regular season games with 77 goals and 271 points to show for it and finished with 792 career penalty minutes over that span. As for the postseason, he played 34 games over four seasons with the Oilers and Lightning and finished with three goals and 17 points over that span. However, the Stanley Cup fell out of reach for Brewer during his playing days.
As mentioned, Brewer did play in some international tournaments, including the Olympics in 2001-02 and a number of World Championships over his career.
While the Hall of Fame is out of the question for him, Brewer was honoured by being named to the NHL All-Star Game in 2003 as a 23-year-old when he had 29 points in 80 regular season games.
There’s no question that when people discuss Brewer’s playing days, they forget about his short stint in Toronto. That said, once a Maple Leaf, always a Maple Leaf and Brewer’s no different. Eighteen games is all it took. But Brewer is a part of the Maple Leafs alumni.
All-Time Maple Leafs’ Ranks
Games Played: 18 GP (T683rd)
Goals: 2 G (T516th)
Assists: 3 A (T566th)
Points: 5 P (T565th)
Points-Per-Game: 0.28 P/G (T368th)
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Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.