January 10 2013 10:59AM
Good day to you, Nation. Welcome to what is now both 2013 and a post lockout utopian dream. Surely with all the news of ratified CBAs, schedule planning, game matchups, shortened training camps, and what is surely to be an exciting blend of rusty hockey players blowing three goal leads and highlight reel dangles, you can expect FlamesNation to lend it's unique stance and unparalleled voice of the Community of The Flaming C throughout all their trials and tribulations this upcoming campaign.
Today though, we pan an ex-Calgary Flame who played a total of 59 games with the team more than 20 years ago and is, at best, entirely forgettable, because, well mostly because it was ahead in the queue and we don't play games with the queue. So with that in mind, Gary Leeman, this is your Two Minutes Hate.
Nobody Believes You Gary
To truly understand just who Gary Leeman was, perhaps the following statement is the best way to really characterize his essence: Gary Leeman is the Toronto Maple Leafs.
I'm being told I need to explain more. Well, okay then, but it's giving me a headache, just so you know.
Leeman was, if you want to believe the scouts from THE 1980'S, a very promising and, I kid you not, rugged young product out of Saskatchewan. Gary was essentially all of the same parts that make up the ultimate "This guy is a Maple Leaf" guy, Wendel Clark, only he lacked that one characteristic that distinguished Wendel from any and all other Leaf greats: Success.
Yes, Leeman embodies the Leafs in that he was very overhyped, very underwhelming, and even though we're thousands of kilometers away, Calgary ended up having him shoved down out throats, even though we never wanted it.
For a while there, Gary had people convinced. He had played quite respectably in Junior with the Regina Pats, being named an All-Star, and inexplicably represented Canada at TWO World Junior Championships, proving once and for all that every player to ever suit up at that tournament is destined for greatness (For further reading on the subject, see Gendron, Martin)
This was enough to get Leeman, or GLee Man, as I think I'd like to refer to him as from here on out, drafted by the Maple Leafs in the second round of the 1982 NHL Entry Draft.
But see, here's the thing. To this point, GLee Man was a defenseman. And I guess pretty okay at it too. But upon joining the Leafs in 1983, the team and the player had the audacity to believe that, in the NHL, hockey's highest tier, it would be easy to just start from scratch and turn Gary into a left winger. Which they did. Again, in the NHL.
In some ways, it made sense, as it was the 1980's, and defensemen ceased to exist for most of the decade. But to anyone watching as the years went on, perhaps that would have been a more preferable outcome for Gary's career.
Because again, for a while, Leeman's smoke and mirrors chicanery was paying dividends for him. Where he should have been playing left wing on a line with like Joe Sacco, or Tom Kurvers, or like, I don't know, Ogie Oglethorpe, Leeman used his Jedi Mind Tricks to convince then head coach John Brophy to put him on a line with Wendel Clark and the speedy Russ Courtnall, and against all odds, GLee Man started to score goals. Like, kinda regularly.
He even became the second Leaf, somehow, to score 50 goals since Rick Vaive, who, again somehow, was the first one in the Leafs long history to do it. What an organization.
But all good things must come to an end, and Gary knew it was time. Time for the next installment of his nefarious plan: Time to destroy your Calgary Flames.
Gary Leeman, Revealed!
I have a theory. It's not so much a theory as it is ABSOLUTELY TRUE, but is failed to be recognized by scientists and world leaders, and their ignorance is to blame for all of this. The truth is, Doug Risebrough's Doug Gilmour Trade is the cause of all terrible and chaotic things to have ever happened in the world.
Hitler was a concert pianist, pollution, smog, all leading enviromental strife that we know today ceased to exist, Geddy Lee never meets Alex Lifeson, thus negating the existence of Rush, life was great.
But then on that fateful day back in January of 1992, Doug Risebrough did the dumbest thing anyone has ever done, and a rift in the space time contiuum jostled our collective history in such a way that dark forces took over, providing us with such grim consequences that we have never quite recovered from.
For most of the editions of Two Minutes Hate! I have ever written, I've managed to somehow include Doug Risebrough in there for being responsible for making it all happen. And while he deserves it, people often wonder if it's fair to fault Riser exclusively for all the tragedies that have befallen the Flames over the years. And the answer is no. Because Gary Leeman also has to shoulder some of this responsibility.
Sure, Risebrough went and mortgaged the future away on shady gamblings like a drunk dad does with your college fund, but it was wrong of Leeman to bamboozle Dougy, being that it was obvious that Riser had no idea what he was doing. It's irresponsible, but this is what happened.
We all know the disheartening details of what happened that day, we've been subjected to it ad nauseum, and rehashing it here one more time, well...I can't, I can't, I just can't, it's going to make me cry.
But we all know that Doug Risebrough and his naivety believed Cliff Fletcher's lie, that wily old veteran, that Gary Leeman was a perennial goal scorer who would be a wonderful centerpiece along with all of Toronto's other assorted garbage in exchange for what would be Doug Gilmour and a good core of players to make your team an instant contender. Which the Leafs never ended up becoming, but that is a hilariously telling endeavor in it's own right.
Just so we're clear, let me re-read that to you: Gary Leeman, centerpiece, Doug Gilmour trade.
If you haven't thrown your chair through your monitor yet, let's continue.
Leeman Proves To Be a Leeboy
(Just as an aside, if you find Wikipedia page, which I am 90% sure is autobiographical, you'll read that Gary needed a change of scenery, and that's why he was traded to the Flames in 1992. Which suggests that Gary Leeman was the reason the trade named after Doug Gilmour happened)
We'll keep this short, but damaging, because that's what Gary Leeman was to Calgary. Being the centerpiece of a trade that sent one of the finest forwards this organization has known, coupled with being a 50 goal scorer once (to this day, no one has any idea how this happened)
But as you all surely know by now, THINGS DIDN'T EXACTLY WORK OUT.
Gary Leeman played 59 games for the Flames. Over two seasons. Are we understanding this here? He played 29 games over the balance of the 91-92 season after being traded from Toronto, and then the Flames could only stomach another 30 games of Leeman brand suck before shipping him off to Montreal for one time Flames killer Brian Skrudland. A very old Brian Skrudland. Who was welcomed with open arms for not being Gary Leeman.
The numbers for those two season are staggering: 59 GP, 11 G, 23 PTS, and a responsible -6 (people cared about +/- back then, so it counts, okay?)
Meanwhile, in the same two seasons, Doug Gilmour threw on his Leafs jersey for 123 games, scoring 47 goals, 129 ASSISTS (!!!), for 176 points. +45. But Gary Leeman scored 50 goals one time, so he's probably better, eh Riser? I hope you're crying, wherever you are right now.
LET THE HATE FLOW THROUGH YOU
Gary Leeman's Legends Of Hockey Page (best oxymoron) states that due to dwindling ice time in Calgary (which we can all assume he feels was undeserved, because someone had to think so, right?), that Leeman asked for a trade. Gary Leeman asked for a trade. GARY LEEMAN ASKED FOR A TRADE. Let me tell you something Gary, you weren't the only one asking for you to be traded. You all probably forget, but we held a city wide parade in Calgary when "his" request was finally granted. Harvey the Hound was the marshal. Bearcat Murray did things. It was pretty great.
Gary, unlike most people who wrong the Flames, ultimately got the last laugh though, as the season he was traded to Montreal, he ended up winning a Stanley Cup because Patrick Roy. One of the most undeserved Stanley Cup rings was made that season, and that is an atrocity we can't just up and undo. It's like that time on MASH where Major Burns got sent back home to HEY WHERE ARE YOU ALL GOING?
As mentioned off the top, it seems weird to pen an entire anti-tribute to a guy that, in the long run, is a blip on the radar of all things Flaming C, but like it or not, if you're the punchline on what is the worst trade in HOCKEY HISTORY, you're in for a bit of a hate job if you didn't live up to your end of the bargain. So, Mr. Leeman, if we laugh in those rare instances where we remember who you are, it's not because we're laughing with you, it's because we're done crying. We haven't let bygones be bygones, we're not being the bigger person. Rest assured, we still hate you, we just don't have the energy to do anything other than laugh.