Bryan McCabe is a Florida Panther today, dealt in exchange for 29-year-old Mike Van Ryn and a fourth-round draft choice in 2010.
Terms of the trade had long been arranged but the deal was held up until suppertime, Tuesday..
The Leafs are trading a player who, for all his missteps, scored 59 power play goals in blue and white. He had 66 and 57-point seasons. Those are big-time, eye-catching numbers.
The murmurs of Norris Trophy consideration during his best times were ridiculous but McCabe was not a lazy player. He was always physically engaged and if he made mistakes, he made mistakes because he was the best Paul Maurice or Pat Quinn had to trot out for nearly 30 minutes a game.
Please, don’t talk to me about McCabe being overpaid. The ability to play hockey, baseball or basketball is a freakish skill with no more importance to the big picture than the ability to simultaneously twirl seven plates on bamboo sticks. Doctors, teachers, firefighters, cops, those people are not overpaid. Stockbrokers, actors, televangelists and big-league athletes are. It will always be thus.
The question is how overpaid and since the Panthers will reach the minimum pay floor more easily with McCabe, it turns out he is paid just right.
The overtime own-goal in Buffalo last year will be remembered as McCabe’s worst moment here. That too is ridiculous. The guy shot a foot wide of the target under fierce pressure. The Leafs could never develop a stable defence and McCabe was the biggest pillar available. It really isn’t any harder to figure than that.
McCabe never presented himself as something that he wasn’t. “I make mistakes,” he once said, “but I try hard.”
And he did.
It was time for McCabe. No playoffs equates turnover in the spring and summer and there is not much magic in that.
In Van Ryn, the Leafs are getting a 29-year old who has some prime time experience having played extensively with Chris Pronger in St. Louis. But a blizzard of wrist injuries (both are hurt, interestingly) has dramatically impeded his ability to shoot the puck. Van Ryn is an excellent dressing room guy and he insists his arms are recovered but he is a finesse player with troublesome wrists. Unless he learns to hold his stick with his legs, this might always something of an issue.
Leafs’ GM Cliff Fletcher has long stated he expected minimal return for McCabe whose status on the trade block has been about as big a secret as the fact that it rained a lot this summer. He had two teams to work with, one over the summer. Maybe Van Ryn comes back whole and if he does, great. There is no provision for a physical in the deal.
“We hear that he’s fine that he’s been on the ice on a daily basis in South Florida and that he’s excited and ready to play,” said Fletcher. “Mike Van Ryn is a Toronto Maple Leaf regardless of his health status.”
If he doesn’t, McCabe is still in South Florida and that was always the main objective.
It is called addition through subtraction. McCabe is the latest prominent player to be moved: Andrew Raycroft, Darcy Tucker and Kyle Wellwood have also moved.
All this it represents a victory of sorts for Fletcher who clearly wanted change in the dressing room as well as on the ice. He got it when he convinced McCabe to waive his no-trade clause.
Bryan McCabe leaves Toronto a very rich man and there is precedent that he might enjoy a renaissance. Larry Murphy was chased out of town by many of the same people who hooted McCabe’s own goal but two Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings, you may recall, eased the sting quite nicely.