In Monday's Toronto Star, writer Damien Cox made an interesting comment that the current edition on the Maple Leafs is reminiscent of the Doug Carpenter coached Leafs of 'twenty years ago'. It really is an interesting comparison of the style and results of the two teams.
Carpenter coached really only one season, 1989/90 (he was let go after a 1-9-1 start to the next season). In 89/90 the Leafs were exactly a .500 team with a 38-38-4 record, finishing third in the Norris Division. This year, when the silly OT/Shootout Loss points that didn't exist twenty years ago are removed the Leafs are realistically a .500 team at 16 and 17. With 338 goals for and 358 goals surrendered, the 89/90 squad finished third in each of those categories league-wide. They certainly were an entertaining squad to watch much like this year's team. So far in 2011/12, Toronto ranks 7th in goals/game and 6th in goals against/game with of course 30 teams in the league as opposed to 21 in 1989/90.
The similarities don't end there. The old Leafs were led offensively by Gary Leeman, a 25 year-old Right Winger having a breakout season after scoring 32 goals the year prior. This season they're led by a 24 year-old Right Winger Phil Kessel having a breakout campaign after scoring 32 goals last year. Both squads had a nice collection of under 30 year-old forwards providing scoring Vincent Damphousse, Ed Oczyk, Daniel Marois and Mark Osborne for the old Leafs and Lupul, Bozak, Grabovski and MacArthur currently.
The defense of the 89/90 Leafs had three guys providing points with Al Iafrate, Tom Kurvers and Rob Ramage all having at least 49. This year of course it's Phaneuf and Liles who should be around that point total. The part of Luke Richardson can be ably filled by Luke Schenn in more than their given name. Both are/were in their early 20's and hard-hitting, fairly reliable, still developing defensemen. The Leafs of 89/90 had one thing the current edition does not in Wendel Clark. He played in half the games that year, but when he did play he was a rare kind of player. The current Leafs do have also often injured Tim Connolly, a totally different and older player than Clark was but he does provide an intangible they need when healthy.
Each of the teams had goalies aged 23, 25 and 27 years old. 1989/90 was Jeff Reese, Allan Bester and Mark LaForest. Currently it's James Reimer, Ben Scrivens, and Jonas Gustavsson.
I almost hate to say it, but I think I'll take this years crop over the oldtimers.
The Leafs of 22 years ago made the playoffs and lost out in the first round in five games to St.Louis. Frankly, I'd almost settle for that result this year.