"I think it was the lunch-box work ethic we had as a team. We were all young, most of us in our mid-to-late 20s, and it was an awesome time to be part of it. It was one team I can say that there was no animosity or jealousy. We hung together off the ice and on the ice. The leadership of the players and coaching staff was just amazing."
-- Doug Gilmour
left hockey fans with many wonderful memories during his 20-year NHL career -- from his 22-points-in-22-games performance that helped lead the Calgary Flames
to the 1989 Stanley Cup, to his hard work early in his career with the St. Louis Blues
to his outstanding performance with the Toronto Maple Leafs
in 1993 and 1994.
Gilmour added another warm memory Thursday to that career legacy during a conference call to discuss Toronto's intention to honor his number in a pre-game ceremony Saturday at the Air Canada Centre. In response to nearly every question, Gilmour deflected praise from himself to past teammates. Question after question produced answers praising his coaches and teammates.
He especially was proud of the time he spent in Toronto, especially playing for Pat Burns deep into the playoffs in 1993 and 1994.
"Burnsie was so mentally prepared going into (the 1992-93 season) because of his focus and what he expected from us," Gilmour said. "Look at Wendel (Clark's) performance on the ice, his commitment and the guts that he had. You look at Mike Foligno, Mike Krushelnyski
, Glenn Anderson
, Sylvain Lefebvre
, Bob Rouse and Jamie Macoun, great in the room and great people as well.
"We all had a role. We knew when we had to play. Ken Baumgartner had a role that was so important to our hockey club. Look at Bill Berg
and Mark Osbourne, what they did for us. My linemates, 90 percent of the time I played with Dave Andreychuk
and Nikolai Borschevsky
, but in the third period, it might be Anderson and Clark. Burnsie put the guys together, we just went with it."
Gilmour, who retired in 2003 after returning as a Maple Leaf for one last game, is a likely candidate for enshrinement in the Hockey Hall of Fame. He scored 450 goals and added 964 assists for 1,414 points in 1,474 NHL games with seven teams.
Nothing, though, says "big-game performer" more than scoring better than a point a game in championship competition. Gilmour did just that by scoring 60 goals and 128 assists for 188 points in 182 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
For these reasons and more, Gilmour's No. 93 sweater will be the 15th to be raised to the rafters at the Air Canada Centre in a ceremony Saturday night before the Leafs host the Pittsburgh Penguins
Gilmour scored 452 points in 393 games for the Maple Leafs and led them to the conference championship series in 1993 and 1994.
Gilmour arrived in Toronto on Jan. 2, 1992, with Macoun, Ric Nattress, Kent Manderville
and Rick Wamsley in a trade with the Flames for Gary Leeman
, Craig Berube
, Michel Petit
, Jeff Reese
and Alexander Godynyuk
The trade was engineered by Leafs first-year General Manager Cliff Fletcher, who had been fired by Calgary the previous year. As the Flames GM, Fletcher had traded with St. Louis to get Gilmour in 1988.
Gilmour set three Maple Leafs records in 1992-93, posting 95 assists and 127 points, plus a six-assist single-game performance.
He led the Leafs to the Campbell Conference finals after seven-game series victories against the Detroit Red Wings
and Blues. The Maple Leafs fell to the Los Angeles Kings
and Wayne Gretzky
in one of the greatest non-Stanley Cup Final playoff series of all time.
The next season, Gilmour led the Maple Leafs back to the conference finals. This time, the Leafs fell in five games to the Vancouver Canucks
after a six-game triumph against the Chicago Blackhawks
and a seven-game series win against the San Jose Sharks
Gilmour had 27 goals and 111 points that season, and 28 points in 18 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
"I think it was the lunch-box work ethic we had as a team," Gilmour said. "We were all young, most of us in our mid-to-late 20s, and it was an awesome time to be part of it.
"It was one team I can say that there was no animosity or jealousy. We hung together off the ice and on the ice. The leadership of the players and coaching staff was just amazing."
Fletcher's first move as general manager was to hire Burns as coach. Gilmour immediately was impressed.
"Before training camp, I had the opportunity to meet Pat Burns and he told me what he wanted from me. It was point blank and I went into that season mentally prepared," Gilmour said. "I think that's what made my time there uplifting. ... He did make me overachieve."
After retiring in 2003, Gilmour became involved in a number of business ventures, from construction to car-leasing, but returned to hockey as an assistant coach with the Leafs' American Hockey League affiliate, the Toronto Marlies.
Earlier this season, he took over as coach of the struggling Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League, his hometown club. He said he has looked for interesting challenges after retiring from hockey, and while he will return next year to coach the Frontenacs, "I'll probably be doing something else in five years."
"From Day 1 and the day I made the NHL, my dad told me how to play," Gilmour said. "Until I was 40 years old, he kept telling me to shoot more, but I wasn't much of a shooter." -- Doug Gilmour
Gilmour has a plan for Saturday night.
He's one of the few athletes who have made it through a retirement announcement without a great deal of emotion, and he hopes to repeat that feat Saturday.
"The biggest thing is 'thank you's,'" Gilmour said. "We have to get things rolling, there is a game going on. It's going to be short. ... When I retired, I was nervous and got through it with little emotion, but I think this is going to be different."
Gilmour gave thanks to his parents, Don and Dolly, who will be at the ceremony, and then revealed one of the secrets to his motivation.
"From Day 1 and the day I made the NHL, my dad told me how to play," Gilmour said. "Until I was 40 years old, he kept telling me to shoot more, but I wasn't much of a shooter. For that matter, he's telling me how to coach now, too."