Thursday, December 18, 2008

Darryl Sittler, Toronto Toro?

This is the rare occaison for my blog where I post a photo of an item which is NOT in my real-life den. This is only the case because this card of course doesn't exist (a little photoshop on my part). I recently picked up an old hockey magazine from March 1974 with an article about how Sittler almost became a Toronto Toro of the WHA.

Apparently, after his third NHL season of 1972-73 he was offered a $1,000,000, five year deal by John Bassett, owner of the Toros. The team was in the midst of transferring from Ottawa after the inaugural WHA season. Sittler was coming of a 77 point year in leading the Leafs in scoring. Bassett wanted to snag the 23 year old who was taking the city by storm. The Toros had traded a player to the Alberta Oilers just to obtain his WHA rights. Sittler had earned $30,000 the previous season and soon after the year ended had verbally agreed to a $70,000 yearly deal with the Leafs. Then came the Toros offer, mindblowing to all.

Sittler's agent, the convict, Alan Eagleson went back to the Leafs with the giant offer. The Buds offered a counter of $750,000, which at $150,000/year was more than enough to keep him a Leaf. Eagleson, being the classy gentleman he is went back to the Toros and asked for the original million, plus crazy additional demands such as a rent free farm for Sittler, endorsements with food-chain stores associated with the Toros, cars for Sittler and his wife AND Eagleson's fees. Bassett and the Toros of course withdrew from the bidding, and within a week Sittler's signing with the Leafs was announced.

Sittler of course went on to score 789 points in his final 643 games with the Leafs. The Toros on the other hand would try to fill the superstar void with ex-Leafs, Frank Mahovlich, Paul Henderson, Wayne Carleton and Brit Selby with minimal degrees of sucess. In three years, they would be the Birmingham Bulls, and Sittler, on his way to the Hall of Fame.

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