Welcome to Last Word on Hockey’s One Hit Wonder series. Each day, we will take a look at a new team’s three biggest one-hit wonders. These are players that had one great season or playoff run but never did anything like that again. Join us every day for a new team! Today we look at the Toronto Maple Leafs One-Hit Wonders.
Toronto Maple Leafs Top Three One-Hit Wonders
Gary Leeman‘s career trajectory was certainly on the up-and-up ever since entering the NHL. He was drafted 24th overall (in the second round back then!) in 1982 by the Maple Leafs. He made the jump to the NHL in 1983-84 and had a few solid seasons in the league while still spending some time in the minors.
By the time 1986-87 hit, Leeman was a full-time Leaf. In his first full run, he posted 52 points in 80 games, which weren’t bad totals at all, even for the 1980s. Leeman toiled in the 50-60 point range for a few more seasons, while still being one of the better players on the Leafs’ roster. It wasn’t until 1989-90, however, that Leeman burst onto the scene and had his one-hit-wonder year.
As the world turned into the last decade of the 20th century, nothing could go wrong for Leeman. In 80 games that year, Leeman exploded for a 51-goal season. He tallied an additional 44 assists to cap his total at 95 points. He led the Leafs in scoring that year, finishing ahead of a young core of Vincent Damphousse, Wendel Clark, and Ed Olczyk. The warning signs were obviously there with his ridiculously high 19.9 shooting percentage, but for that season anyways, Leeman was Toronto’s best player.
After the Wonder
Leeman’s high ended abruptly. That 1989-90 season was his last full year as a Leaf. After only scoring seven goals in 34 games with Toronto the following year, he was shipped to Calgary midseason. Leeman never even touched 20 goals in a single season again, and only scored above 30 points after that.
Errol Thompson presents a slightly more valid case for one-hit-wonder status than Leeman. Thompson was also a Maple Leaf draft pick, taken 22nd overall in 1970. Although he played in one NHL game the season after his draft year (1970-71), Thompson didn’t come on as a full-time Leaf until 1972-73. He had a solid first few seasons in the NHL, scoring between 15 and 42 points a year from 1972 to 1975.
Thompson’s day in the sun came in the 1975-76 season. After never having scored more than 25 goals or 45 points in a season, Thompson rocketed to a 43-goal, 80-point campaign. It seems as though playing on a line with Darryl Sittler and Lanny McDonald may help pad your stats. He finished third on the team in scoring behind those two and formed part of a solid first line. The Maple Leafs were eventually bounced in seven games that year by the Philadelphia Flyers in the quarterfinal round.
After the Wonder
Like Leeman, Thompson never even came close to hitting his career highs again. While he stayed around for a few more years, his next best season was with the Detroit Red Wings in 1978-79, where he scored 23 goals and 54 points. Thompson ended up finishing his NHL career playing one game shy of 600.
Daniel Marois is another interesting case study in Leafs history. His NHL career was rather abrupt, only playing seven years. He was drafted by the Leafs at 28th overall in 1987 and began playing for the club in 1988-89. His rookie season, he finished with an impressive 54 points in 76 games, finishing sixth in Calder Trophy voting.
The term ‘sophomore slump’ must’ve never crossed Marois’ ears. In only his second season, 1989-90, Marois broke out for a 39-goal, 76-point campaign. Sharing a breakout season with the aforementioned Leeman, Marois finished fourth on the team in points ahead of mainstays like Al Iafrate. The Leafs didn’t have any success in the playoffs that year, but Marois’ individual success was certainly a high point that season.
After the Wonder
Unfortunately for Marois, like his peers, the decline came quickly and sharply. His total dropped to only 30 points the next season and 33 after that. Before too long, he was out of the league entirely, as he played his last NHL stint with the Dallas Stars in 1995-96. He only got into three games.
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