It’s time to let Tyler Seguin go, Toronto. Let him enjoy his NHL career in Boston in peace. Stop blathering that he should have been ours. Could have been ours. Stop insisting that he belongs with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He does not.
This type of thinking can only end up being destructive, so it has to stop now.
When Leafs’ GM Brian Burke acquired Phil Kessel from the Bruins in September 2009, there was immediate speculation that giving Boston two first-rounders (2010 and ’11) was far too generous. At the time, Burke was obviously confident in the fact that Toronto would not finish 29th overall in the 2009-10 NHL standings. He was wrong.
It was a perfectly calculated risk by Burke. Everyone was reasonably certain that the Leafs wouldn’t win the Stanley Cup last year, but finishing 29th? Few saw that. But the dreaming about what could have been with Seguin is just counterproductive. What if the Leafs had finished 24th overall, rather than 29th? The choice would have been far less tantalizing.
Who knows what kind of a player Seguin will be? He may never, ever become an elite-lever NHLer. Phil Kessel is that already. This whole he-should-have-been-ours argument brings to mind the 1980 NHL Entry Draft. The Montréal Canadiens had the first overall choice.
Denis Savard had just finished a 181-point season with the Montréal Juniors of the QMJHL. He was flamboyant. He could skate like the wind. He was incredibly creative with the puck. Il parlait français. He would have been the perfect replacement for the aging Guy Lafleur. They were cut from the same cloth. The fans at the Montreal Forum would have adored Savard.
But, instead of drafting Le Grand Denis, Canadiens’ GM Irving Grundman opted to take big Regina Pats’ centre Doug Wickenheiser. Now, Wick had just had a super season in the WHL, but he was never, ever going to be Denis Savard. Wickenheiser had just one breakout season with the Pats. But the Habs took him anyway. Wick had a very workmanlike career in the NHL. He never had more than 25 goals, or 55 points, in any season.
His biggest claim to NHL fame was scoring an overtime goal in Game Six of the 1986 Campbell Conference Final. It sent that series back to Calgary for Game Seven, where the Flames defeated the Blues to reach their first Stanley Cup Final. Denis Savard became a Hall-of-Famer. And Canadiens’ fans whined for twenty long years about how the Habs should have chosen Savard over Wickenheiser. Especially when Savard was lighting it up for the Chicago Blackhawks in the mid-1980s. Point is, there is absolutely no way to know.
So let Tyler Seguin go, Toronto. Let him have whatever career he’s going to have in Boston. He could be a Denis Savard. Or he could be a Doug Wickenheiser. Either way, the Leafs already have a Phil Kessel.