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Ulmer's 10 Biggest Surprises Of The Season

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs





When I looked down and saw that after two games, Justin Abdelkader was leading the Stanley Cup finals in goalscoring, I thought to myself, “this I did not expect.”

I do not expect a lot of things. I make it a habit never to anticipate. It makes for a better surprise and accounts for the vacuous expression on my face. When I look like I really know something …that’s when I am in the biggest trouble.

Life is an endless series of surprises. Over the last few days, I have learned I am a partial owner in a car company, that I need a passport to get to the seedy side of Niagara Falls and that Angelina Jolie is too old to play Lara Croft, the old sow.

Go back further, more surprises. Manny Ramirez has a hunger for female hormones, Billy Bob Thornton thinks he’s Tom Petty and Brian Mulroney only had to pay taxes on half the money he accepted from a German-Canadian businessman seven years after the fact. Who knew the taxman was so sanguine?

You will have your chance to weigh in on the 10 biggest surprises of the hockey season when we hold our live chat, Wednesday at 1 p.m.. Submit your questions but for now, here are mine.

1. Claude Lemieux was the San Jose Sharks’ nominee for the Masterton Trophy awarded for “perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.” Oh, really? Claude Lemieux. Was there no one from San Quentin who could skate a bit?

2. Detroit’s Chris Osgood has outplayed Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Did not see that coming. He may look like Gump Worsley, but Osgood wins like Ken Dryden.

3. NHL officials suspended Sean Avery a few hours before a game against Dion Phaneuf and in doing so deliberately save his life. You don’t see many suspensions for humanitarian reasons.

4. For signing Avery and costing the Stars nearly $2 million a year in cap money over the next three years, Hull was promoted. Did not see that one coming.

5. Nor did I guess that three former Leafs, Nik Antropov (New York Rangers), Owen Nolan (Minnesota) and Brad Boyes (St. Louis) would lead their teams in goalscoring.

6. Consider this list of players: Ryan Getzlaf, Joe Thornton, Jarome Iginla, Jonathan Toews, Loui Eriksson, Pavel Datsyuk, Alex Kovalev, Jason Arnott, Patrik Elias, Jason Spezza, Simon Gagne, Shane Doan, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier. Who scored the most goals? The answer is Loui Eriksson. Really.

7. Prospect Viktor Stalberg, in his third year at the University of Vermont, was fourth in the nation in goalscoring with 24, played a couple of games with the Marlies and now, out of nowhere, looks ready to be a significant player for the Maple Leafs. Didn’t even see that coming at Christmas. Who’s ever heard of a Swede from Vermont?

8. It never hit me that a team coached by Ron Wilson, noted for defence and special teams would finish last in goals against, save percentage and penalty killing. Jonas Gustavsson please apply.

9. I honestly thought that after he had gone a full season without wearing the blue and white, the rumours of a Mats Sundin return to Toronto would have stopped. Nope. Wrong again.

10. I never thought Jacques Martin would take a job in which he had to say something interesting in either language. To a ravenous Montreal media, Martin is the cruelest of jokes. They can tear him apart, but they will find nothing meaty.
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