It’s been fifteen years since Mats Sundin recorded 41 goals and 53 assists for 94 points. Since that season no Toronto Maple Leafs player has had a campaign in which they produced greater than 83 points (once again that was Sundin). This season Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul is on pace to have 34 goals and 55 assists for a career high 89 points. Lupul has been the teams MVP this season, but the fact that he is having the most productive season anybody has had in a blue and white sweater in 15 years is astounding. Think about it,15 seasons. Many Leaf fans weren’t even born. Bill Clinton was president. The Colorado Avalanche were defending Stanley Cup Champions, and Wayne Gretzky was playing in his first season with the New York Rangers. Nazem Kadri and Jake Gardiner were seven years old.
Lupul has been fantastic this season. Currently sitting in a 4th place tie in NHL scoring, he has become one of the Leafs’ on-ice leaders. Much like he did last night, when Toronto has scored a big goal this season he was the catalyst. King Joffrey (although he doesn’t have golden hair) has been taken over from Phil Kessel as the buds’ prime scoring threat, and people around the league are beginning to notice. Lupul has been named an assistant captain in the all-star game festivities this weekend. This will be Lupul’s first ever appearance in the game.
Before he came to the Leafs Lupul not only had a reputation as a streaky and enigmatic scorer, but also as a hard partying pretty boy. Lupul was “apparently” traded away from Philadelphia specifically because of his involvement with the other young and successful Flyers players. It was noted that Lupul, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Scott Hartnell were all night owls. These reports were hardly mentioned at the time, but following the whole ‘dry island’ bullshit this summer those rumours surfaced once again.
At 28 years of age though, Lupul has looked around and noticed that he is now one of the veterans in the room. No longer is Lupul that talented, but flawed individual. He is now a leader and mentor to some of the younger members of the blue and white. Having overcome a serious and career threatening injury, Joffrey has seemingly turned the corner in his career. Who would have thought that the throw in to the Francois Beauchemin – Jake Gardiner trade would be on pace to record the greatest season a Toronto Maple Leaf has had in a decade and a half?