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14 TORONTO Maple Leafs
Luis Fernando Llosa
October 04, 1999
While Goaltender Curtis Joseph spent a quiet off-season riding horses with his three kids on his new homestead in King City, Ontario, the Maple Leafs' front office was undergoing a frantic reshuffling. When the dust finally cleared, president and general manager Ken Dryden no longer had G.M. responsibility, and associate G.M. Mike Smith and assistant G.M. Anders Hedberg had quit in a huff. Coach Pat Quinn, who turned the team around in his first year with Toronto last season, wound up sitting comfortably in the general manager's chair.
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October 04, 1999

14 Toronto Maple Leafs

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INSIDER

CATEGORY

SI RANKING

SKINNY

OFFENSE

1

Skill and wide-open system make Leafs lethal

DEFENSE

21

Unit gives up too many odd-man rushes

GOALTENDING

2

Joseph's brilliance allows team to run and gun

SPECIAL TEAMS

17

Penalty killing needs to be more reliable

COACHING

9

Quinn gets a lot out of his players

While Goaltender Curtis Joseph spent a quiet off-season riding horses with his three kids on his new homestead in King City, Ontario, the Maple Leafs' front office was undergoing a frantic reshuffling. When the dust finally cleared, president and general manager Ken Dryden no longer had G.M. responsibility, and associate G.M. Mike Smith and assistant G.M. Anders Hedberg had quit in a huff. Coach Pat Quinn, who turned the team around in his first year with Toronto last season, wound up sitting comfortably in the general manager's chair.

Quinn may have to juggle two jobs in 1999-2000, but Joseph will shoulder the heaviest burden. After signing as a free agent in July 1998, he carried the Maple Leafs to the Eastern Conference finals last season with his spectacular netminding. (It was the first time the club had advanced beyond the opening round in five years.) Stuck behind a poor defensive team, Joseph still won 35 games, the second most in the league. "I don't know how to measure his worth," Quinn says of Joseph. "He allowed a young defense to get away with a lot of mistakes."

Quinn isn't making it any easier on Joseph this season. The coach is confident that the Leafs can thrive on the same "aggressive and adventuresome" brand of hockey that saw them score a league-leading 268 goals last year. The offense had six players with 20 or more goals, led by Sergei Berezin, who scored a career-high 37, and captain Mats Sundin, who finished 12th in the NHL in scoring with 83 points.

But there are some nagging problems besides the porous defense. For one, the Leafs cannot count on making a serious playoff run with shoddy performances again from their special teams. Despite its high-powered offense, Toronto converted only 14.4% of its power-play opportunities (17th in the NHL), in large part because the unit lacked a quality quarterback; defenseman Bryan Berard, who was acquired last season from the Islanders for goaltender Felix Potvin, was inconsistent running the power play. Also, the team's penalty killing ranked 24th in the league. The Leafs were fortunate that only two players, center Alyn McCauley and forward Igor Korolev, suffered serious injuries.

Quinn understands what the Leafs are up against. "A lot of things fell our way last season," he says. "We're not concentrating on a certain number of points, but we want to improve as a team."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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