Halloween has come early for the Toronto Maple Leafs as they face a nightmare named Freddy. No, not Freddy Krueger; the Maple Leafs confront a much more frightening Freddy. This beast also wears red. Although his gloves are not covered with blades, his quick glove-hand reflexes are known to tear the heart out of the opposition. This masked man has lived in the nightmares of Kyle Dubas and the Toronto fan base who turned their backs on him. The revenge of Frederik Andersen is poised to become the title of the next chapter in the horror show that is the Maple Leafs start to the 2021-22 season.
Andersen backstopped the Maple Leafs for five seasons. His name is all over the franchise’s record book. He is fourth for all-time wins by a netminder with 149, 11 behind Felix Potvin. But Potvin played eight seasons in Toronto compared to Andersen’s five. He is third for save percentage behind Johnny Bower. Andersen is sixth for games played by a goalie with 268, just two behind Curtis Joseph. He is 11th all-time in shutouts with 13. Keep in mind, he joined Toronto as the first piece of a tear it down to the studs rebuild, yet put together a career in Toronto that has his name with Maple Leaf Legends.
Andersen Wanted to Return to Toronto
What did he get for his contribution to the organization? Kicked to the curb. Andersen struggled in his last season. He admitted to rushing back despite dealing with a nagging injury. This decision resulted in the worse numbers of his career, going 13-8-3 with a 2.96 goals-against average and a .895 save percentage, far worse than his standards of 2.64 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage.
During his last interview with Toronto media before free agency, he was asked about his future and said he wanted to talk with Kyle (Dubas) first. The rest of the story is hearsay. We will never know what happened between Andersen and the Maple Leafs’ front office between the end of the season and the opening of free agency. We know that Andersen’s picture was removed from the Maple Leafs’ website long before he officially left the team.
Carolina Pursued Andersen
We also know, the Carolina Hurricanes, who came up just short of being the best team in the NHL and winning the Presidents’ Trophy last season, pursued Andersen. The Hurricanes scooped up the Big Dane hours after the free agency window opened for two years at $4.5 million a season. The signing also made it clear that the Canes were moving on from Petr Mrázek. He was coming off an injury-filled season but signed a three-year deal worth $3.8 million a season with Toronto.
Since then, the Hurricanes are out to a 4-0 start to the season. Andersen has been in net for all four wins, allowing seven goals. Mrázek played for two periods before leaving with an injury. He allowed three goals. The Maple Leafs are 2-3-1, allowing 19 goals in six games, including an absolute embarrassment against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens beat Toronto 7-1 despite being short five starters.
Not many were urging the Maple Leafs to re-sign Andersen at the end of last season. It was a tough argument to make, given the kind of season he had endured. But, the fact is, it was time for Andersen to move on. He had become the whipping boy of the vitriol Maple Leafs fanbase who had attached the name Five-Hole Freddy to the netminder. Even fans of him knew he deserved better treatment elsewhere, and it was time to leave Toronto. But in true horror movie fashion, the hand has punched up from the burial site, and Andersen has emerged, eager for redemption and revenge.
Kevin Armstrong is an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience. He’s been rink side for World Juniors, Memorial Cups, Calder Cups and Stanley Cups. Like many Canadian kids, his earliest memories include hockey. Kevin has spent countless hours in arenas throughout the country watching all levels of the game.