In this latest series of articles, we’re looking back at some former NHLers that once suited up for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Some only played a game donning the blue and white, while others may have played significant time in the Big Smoke.
They might not be entirely forgotten, but these select players are either rarely associated with the Maple Leafs’ organization or simply flew under the radar while they were in town. With that said, it’s time to delve into their careers, how they became Maple Leafs and how their stints went in Toronto.
While his heart seemed to reside in Carolina following the Hurricanes’ move from Hartford ahead of the 1997-98 season, some might forget that Glen Wesley had an extremely short stint with the Maple Leafs near the end of the his career. As short-lived as it was, Wesley did make a quick stop in Toronto before he found his way back to Carolina to finish of his career.
Wesley Becoming a Maple Leaf
Drafted third overall by the Boston Bruins in 1987, Wesley broke into the NHL as a 19-year-old with the Bruins in 1987-88. The Bruins traded Wesley to Hartford on Aug. 26, 1994, for three first-round picks and that’s where he became more of defensive forward and a Stanley Cup winner in 2006.
That, however, was after his mini-stint in Toronto. See, the Maple Leafs acquired the defenceman on Mar. 9, 2003, for a second-round pick – which was later traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets by the Hurricanes.
At the time, Wesley was far past his prime offensively and the Maple Leafs were readying themselves for a playoff push in 2002-03. So, they acquired the 34-year-old blue liner and he finished the season in blue and white.
Donning the Blue Maple Leaf
He played just seven regular season games for the Maple Leafs, finishing with three assists and four penalty minutes.
He entered the playoffs with the Maple Leafs and played five games in their first-round loss to the Philadelphia Flyers – who beat the Maple Leafs in seven games. He finished with just one assist in those five games and left Toronto following the season.
He signed back with the Hurricanes in July 2003 and went on to finish his career with the Hurricanes – including his Stanley Cup.
The Rest of Wesley’s Career
Wesley was a seasoned veteran by the time he announced his retirement following the 2007-08 season. He had 20 years of NHL experience under his belt and, as a 39-year-old, had achieved quite a bit during his career.
When Wesley broke into the league, he had 37 points in 79 games in his rookie year. He finished fourth in Calder Trophy voting – behind Darren Pang, Ray Sheppard and the winner that season, Joe Nieuwendyk.
From there, he went on to play 1,457 regular season games with three franchises and four teams. He tallied 128 goals and 537 points over that span, averaging 0.57 points per game in Boston, and 0.37 points per game during his career.
He wasn’t the same offensive threat in Carolina that he was with the Bruins, but still managed to help the Hurricanes to four playoff seasons and a Stanley Cup in 2005-06.
He sits 27th on the NHL’s all-time list for games played (1,457) and eighth among defensemen. While his time in Toronto was short-lived and one that many don’t talk about, his career as a whole was an impressive one. Sure, he was moved to the Maple Leafs by Carolina, but it was clear that his heart remained with the Hurricanes’ franchise.
All-Time Maple Leafs’ Ranks
Games Played: 7 GP (T782nd)
Goals: 0 G (T639th)
Assists: 3 A (T557th)
Points: 3 P (T606th)
Points-Per-Game: 0.43 P/G (T220th)
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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.