The East York that could have been

By MURRAY CRAWFORD

To say that East York has changed over the past 50 years is an understatement. As recently as the 1970s, restaurants in the borough could not serve alcohol.

There are, however, changes that East York refused. Whether these involved standing up for environmental protection or construction projects failing because of lack of provincial funds, numerous projects did not come to fruition. So what would East York have looked like if these proposals had gone through?

The Bayview Ghost

It stood vacant, overlooking the Don Valley, for 22 years — an empty shell of a building that was supposed to be a six-storey apartment that would have been in use by the early 1960s.

The construction project began in 1953 when the lands were purchased by the developer, the Hampton Park Company. In 1957, East York town planner Sulio Venchiarutti earmarked the site as suitable for apartment construction. This was published in the township’s first official plan in 1957. Shortly thereafter, it was discovered that Venchiarutti moonlighted with the apartment builders as a consultant. He was promptly fired and the plan was rejected.

Construction on the building began in October of 1959, after East York council approved a building permit. The permit was approved on Oct. 2, water and sewer service was not approved, and by Oct. 4 construction had begun on the apartment building. It took council two weeks to prohibit the extension of the sewer system to the site and the permit was revoked on Nov. 9.

According to East York reeve True Davidson, the township issued the building permit in error, admitted that East York council had made mistakes, but also blamed Metro council chairman Fredrick Gardiner for the construction.

The Hampton Park Company continued work on the building until 1961, when East York council officially legislated a halt to the construction. Over the course of the next 22 years, the developers attempted to restart construction through various means.

Opponents had many different rallying points. The township, and eventually the borough of East York, wouldn’t attach their sewer system to the apartments, in part because it couldn’t handle it. If the apartments were to instead go to the City of Toronto sewer system, that would have traversed a landfill and parklands, where no sewer system existed at the time.

A report from the park commissioner, Tommy Thompson on May 26, 1961 pointed to the need to maintain the wooded area in the Don Valley.  It was originally a well-wooded area but since the purchase, 10 of the 16 acres were bulldozed. Blending the apartments with the rest of the valley parkland was difficult as there was little way to make a white apartment fit in with a forest. Thompson suggested that the township try to purchase the lands and redevelop them as natural valley parkland, but this failed.

Joe Cooper, a long-time resident and columnist with the East York/Riverdale Mirror, pointed to the lack of sewer connection as important, but really it was about preserving the Don Valley.

“It was really East York standing up for ecology,” he said.

Another big issue was the traffic pattern changes this new apartment would cause. In a letter from June Rowlands (Ward 10 executive alderman), it was clear that the TTC had stated that public transit would not be provided.

“This lack of transit will result in 7,000 car trips per day,” she wrote.

The Hampton Park Lands came to be known as the “Bayview Ghost,” or the “White Elephant.” Because it was unmonitored, it became a popular spot for parties. The building slowly decayed through the 1970s and in 1981 it was torn down.

Since then, the site has not returned to a forested area. Instead, construction of houses has filled the 16 acres. Starting in 2001, the area was redeveloped as houses and one of the streets that connected the neighbourhood to Bayview Avenue is called True Davidson drive.

Taylor-Massey Creek Roadway

Originally, the Gardiner Expressway was supposed to continue east of the Don Valley Parkway and through the Beaches neighbourhood and Scarborough, eventually connecting with Hwy. 401.  As such, there was a plan to develop a roadway linking the Gardiner with the DVP. This was the Taylor-Massey Creek Roadway.

The Gardiner would have gone through the Canadian National rail corridor between Gerrard and Danforth on its way to Scarborough. The exit for the Taylor-Massey Creek Roadway would have been near the Victoria Park subway station. The roadway would then have travelled west through the creek and underneath the O’Connor Drive Bridge, connecting with the DVP close to the current Don Mills road exit.

By 1962, the project was failing and True Davidson and N.C. Goodhead (a Metro representative) chose to instead recommend a much smaller roadway, from Dawes Road to Cedarvale Park in East York. Davidson again represented the ecological concerns as she sought to maintain the parkland that surrounded the creek.

The roadway ultimately failed when the Gardiner extension and Scarborough Expressway failed. The roadway was not necessary without the extension, as its main purpose was to link the extension with the existing DVP.

Leslie Street Extension

By the early 1980s, traffic pressure on the DVP was increasing exponentially and the highway had become crowded and overused. The borough of East York and the city of Toronto revived an extension of Leslie Street as a solution.

The plan can be traced back to 1968 when the extension was first proposed. The route would start at Leslie Street and Eglinton Avenue, where there was no southbound route. Leslie would be extended south through part of the west branch of the Don Valley and then continue south along the Canadian Pacific railroad route, through Millwood Road, and then connect with Bayview Avenue near the Bayview Ghost. In its early stages in the 1980s, the cost was going to be anywhere from $50 to $70 million.

Between 1968 until 1984, only Metro council approved the extension –city council did not. It wasn’t until Nov. 20, 1984 that city council approved the project by a 21-18 vote.

Were it not for the work of activist Nadine Nowlan and environmentalist (and member of the Order of Canada) Charles Sauriol, the extension might have succeeded. Nowlan attended meetings from the start and targeted specific politicians who could be convinced to vote against the construction.

Nowlan had previously worked with another vocal opponent, Alan Tonks, to prevent the construction of the Spadina Expressway. In the early 1980s, Tonks was the mayor of York.

Another politician who would join the cause was a young alderman from Ward 6 named Jack Layton. Layton was an opponent from the start and in a press release dated Nov. 2, 1984, he vocalized his position.

“By extending Leslie Street, it makes it easier for cars to enter downtown Toronto and will effectively kill the efforts of cities like North York and Scarborough to develop their own downtowns.”

Even after the vote was approved in 1984, it drew comparisons to the Spadina Expressway. Throughout the 1980s, the project toiled away through environmental assessments and municipal politics. Construction was supposed to occur between 1987 and 1991.

By 1990, the project hadn’t yet been started, in part because of the unstable provincial government at the time — a minority Liberal government in 1985 and an NDP government in 1990. At this time, Sauriol joined the fight and recruited the legal services of Gowling, Strathy and Henderson. Correspondence between the two indicated that they thought the extension was in dire straits by the 1990s, due to the change in government and the looming recession.

East York mayor David Johnson kept up the fight for the extension.  He believed it would improve transportation to Thorncliffe Park, relieve the congestion on the DVP and, above all, increase East York’s tax base.

Sauriol then established a letter campaign to provincial ministers Ruth Grier (environment) and Gilles Pouliot (transportation), as well as then-Premier Bob Rae. By 1992, the project’s costs had escalated to $141 million. With the province in a recession, the provincial government could not provide the funds it had promised, according to then-East York Mayor Michael Prue.

Downtown Relief Line

Included in the report suggesting the Leslie Street Extension were traffic statistics based on diverted bus routes to a Downtown Relief Line, a subway starting at either Donlands or Pape subway stations and travelling south-west, connecting with Union Station and then travelling north-west to reconnect with the Bloor-Danforth line at either Keele or Dundas west station.

This plan was not new: in a TTC pamphlet highlighting the 50th anniversary of the commission there was a map outlining new subway lines. Aside from the Scarborough extension (now the Scarborough rapid transit line) and the Eglinton cross-town was the Downtown Relief Line.  But the line also continued north to Eglinton.

As recently as the early 1980s there was a plan to extend the Downtown Relief Line north through East York from either Donlands or Pape, turning on to Overlea Boulevard and then north on Don Mills Road to Eglinton Avenue.

But with the failure of the line, in part because of the 1985 election that ended the Conservatives’ 42-year reign in Ontario, the extension was never brought up again.

That is until the TTC released its transit city plan in 2007. One of the light rail routes proposed was the Don Mills LRT. Metrolinx released a similar plan but included the Downtown Relief Line in conjunction with the Don Mills LRT, which poses its own problems, according to transit activist Steve Munro.

“The DRL (Downtown Relief Line) intercepts Danforth and then continues north to Eglinton, so that becomes the question of the Don Mills LRT line to have the LRT end and start a subway line at Danforth,” Munro said. “The part of the line between the Danforth and, at least, Thorncliffe Park is going to be run underground no matter what.”

Munro suggests that if the Metrolinx plan of a Downtown Relief Line is implemented, it makes sense to instead turn the Don Mills LRT line into a subway between Danforth and Eglinton, like the plan on a TTC promotional pamphlet from 1971.

While many of these projects are gone, they are not forgotten. The Bayview Ghost is now a planned neighbourhood, with houses developed in a suburban style. The Leslie Street Extension may have failed, but the DVP was widened to six lanes from four as a compromise. Now it is facing similar congestion problems to that which spurred the extension. A local light rail service, in conjunction with the Downtown Relief Line, is in the 15- and 25-year Metrolinx transportation plan. They may not have been right for East York at the time, but they may become right in time.

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The one that got away

By Murray Crawford

To think, Toronto had a green solution to bus transit since the 1940s and chose to ignore it.

Between 1947 and 1993 the TTC had a network of ten trolley bus routes.  By 1992 the fleet was aging fast.  A trolley bus is like a streetcar, in that it is dependent on a connection to overhead wires, but is instead independent of a track system.  Instead of updating the trolley bus system, the TTC chose to invest in buses that run on natural gas. Diesel-hybrid buses replaced the natural gas buses in the mid 2000s.

When the TTC explored environmentally friendly options for its bus fleet it never considered bringing back trolley bus alternatives. Transit activist and blogger Steve Munro thinks that it should have at least looked at the long-term comparative costs.

“It’s a debate about do we believe that future technologies will be there when they’re supposed to be there,” Munro said. “15 years from now if we look at a trolley-bus network and a diesel-hybrid network, what would the relative merits be.”

Munro questions why a new trolley bus network wasn’t even examined in comparison to a diesel-hybrid bus.

This is not to say there aren’t issues with a trolley bus system.  Globe transit columnist Jeff Gray was quick to point out that it is not a perfect system.

“There are, of course, various problems with the trolley idea,” Gray said.  “They are expensive, the wires are ugly and some bus routes are too small to justify the infrastructure.”

The idea behind the switch to the diesel-hybrid is that the green technology will eventually come and investing now would benefit the city as new hybrid technology comes to the market, Munro questions that argument.

“We keep hearing that there is going to be some marvelous new technology,” he said. “That will somehow miraculously save us from using what we have today.  It’s always just far enough off that we’re not going to buy them tomorrow, but it’s close enough that investing in the infrastructure is important.”

Trolley buses remain in service in large cities, across Europe and North America.  In Canada only two cities still employ these buses, Vancouver and Edmonton.  Edmonton is currently performing the investigation that Munro thinks the TTC overlooked, comparing the costs between the alternatives.

Vancouver also maintains an extensive trolley bus network, and its growing, said Derek Zabel, media relations manager for Coast Mountain Bus Company.

“Most companies are getting rid of their trolleys,” Zabel said. “But we’re one of the few actually increasing investment.”

Vancouver’s geography is very conducive to a trolley bus network, Munro said.  Diesel-hybrids do not benefit from hilly routes while trolley buses are more efficient when climbing Vancouver’s rolling hills.

Trolley buses require a network of overhead wires. From time to time the tether can be dislodged from the wires, but Vancouver trolleys, among others around the world, are now using buses that also have a battery back up that turns on when that happens.

Peter Sanford, a daily trolley bus rider in Vancouver, sees the wires as aesthetically negative.  He’s had experiences on both trolley and diesel buses.

“The biggest difference in driving feel is that after a diesel has been in service for about six months, it’s less powerful than an electric trolley,” Sanford said. “That said I’ve noticed that the feel of the trolley bus is a bit jerkier.  You can really feel it when the driver puts his foot on the ‘gas’.”

A new system in Toronto would come with a lot of costs, especially the installation of new overhead wires.

“It costs about a million dollars to put in trolley overhead so it is not feasible to adapt other existing bus routes to trolley routes,” Zabel said.

Another issue that inevitably comes up is that while trolley buses are locally emission free they are dependent on energy from other sources.  In Ontario this means that the nuclear and coal plants would be required to generate the power necessary for the buses.  Munro said that shouldn’t be a reason to rule out trolley buses for Toronto’s roads.

“I have even heard that old shibboleth about trolley buses that because they consume electricity, and that comes from coal/nuclear, therefore trolley buses use “dirty” power,” he said.  “This same argument is never heard about subways, streetcars, or, more recently, LRT, oddly enough.”

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A Gateway to the GTA

By Murray Crawford

Regional transit fare amalgamation may be nothing but a distant dream, but there is a project to make cross transit system travel much simpler for daily users.

Right now there are nine different transit systems in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). All of these are currently involved in a new initiative to make it easier for commuters to travel between the different transit systems. The Presto card, under the direction of the Ontario ministry of transportation, will be implemented in stages over the course of the next two years. The card is the same as a credit card that users load with money at their will. Where a presto card reader is present users can pay using their cards, the fare will be deducted from the card.

Ultimately all of GO, Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga, Brampton, Durham, York and Hamilton Transit will be completely accessible to Presto card users. The only transit system that has not agreed to complete implementation is the TTC, choosing instead to only have card readers at Islington, Finch, Downsview, Don Mills and Union subways stations. According to the TTC the cost of implementation is the biggest reason. The manager of client relations for the Presto Card, Suzanne Adamkowski, said that they are trying to increase the relationship between the TTC and the card.

“We’re working with the TTC to expand the number of subway stations involved,” Adamkowski said. “We’re ironing out the issues to get 12 stations involved after 2010, all the downtown stations except King and St. Andrew.”

The problem does not lie in a stubborn transit service, instead it is the cost and business shift that would change how the TTC does business.

“For transit users it seems easy, just put in the equipment in,” Adamkowski said. “But there are so many internal issues. It changes the way they (TTC) handle their business.”

Even without the TTC’s participation it does have plenty of benefits for commuters. Some of commuters, like Mike Mendoza, coming into Toronto don’t rely on the TTC when getting to work. He commutes every day from Cooksville Go station in Mississauga to Union; he then walks up Bay Street to his office.

“I could see it being beneficial if I need to take additional transfers,” Mendoza said. “You just swipe it and load it and away you go.”

While Mendoza’s commute does not involve transfers the Presto card still appeals to him. He currently purchases GO monthly passes. But the Presto card offers something his monthly passes don’t.

“With the monthly pass you have to use the tickets by the end of the month,” Mendoza said. “(With the Presto) you control how much is on the card. You control how and when you use it, the money rolls over to the next month.”

The card was tested, from July 1 2007 to September 30 2008 at two Mississauga Go stations, Cooksville and Meadowvale, as well as the Mississauga busses that connect with those stations, and Union Station. According to Adamkowski the choice of these sections was very deliberate.

“We wanted to choose a system that connected with GO.” Adamkowski said. “Mississauga transit was one of the first to sign on and it had to be a GO section as well.”

A notable absence from the Presto’s implementation and partnerships is the local transit authority Metrolinx. They are listed as only a partner while the Ministry of Transportation for Ontario is the primary organization behind the card’s implementation. Something transit blogger Steve Munro was quick to point out.

“Metrolinx was originally envisioned as a regional entity,” Munro said. “But no it’s retreating. Projects with GO and Presto are not becoming Metrolinx led. There is a great distrust in Metrolinx board members, they don’t talk to municipal staff.”

But Munro’s short term view of the Presto card’s relation to Metrolinx has very little to do with the current process, Adamkowski said that in the long term it would become a part of Metrolinx on the whole.

“Metrolinx was originally designed to govern a regional transit system,” Adamkowski said. “They’re all in to some involvement. The provincial legislation does say that Presto will fall under Metrolinx in the future.”

According to Adamkowski Metrolinx members currently participate in the Executive Committee and on other sub-committees.  Presto also provides status updates to the Board of Metrolinx on a quarterly basis.

Still the idea is catching on not only across the GTA but also across the province. Adamkowski said that there was expressed interest from Ottawa to implement the system and even Kitchener-Waterloo is interested in adopting the system. This allows Presto card users to travel outside the GTA on the same card. The Presto is slowly being modeled after the Oyster card in London, England, a debit card that allows holders to pay on all London transit, underground, bus and even the national rail service.

There are still steps to be taken between the pilot projects in Mississauga. Presto has collected data from the tests and as of October 10, 2008 the information they have received is now being used to change the design of the system.

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Toronto Capital Budget 2009

By Murray Crawford

The city of Toronto is in desperate need of some red ink.  While the debt load for the 2009 capital budget is $99 million under its targets the city still has a significant debt, totaling $2.7 billion by the end of 2009.

The budget committee assembled on October 30 to introduce the city’s capital budget for 2009.  With a total budget of $1.626 billion the city is investing a significant portion, $929 million, in maintaining a state of good repair amongst city services and other infrastructure.  In order to fund this the city is adding an additional $367 million to the city’s debt.  Something city councilor Rob Ford is not happy with.

“It’s disappointing how the city is going to be run,” Ford said. “That’s what they keep doing.  They past few years they’ve been borrowing and borrowing and borrowing and in real life you can’t do that.”

Mayor Miller, however, seemed encouraged by the budget and the projections for the next five years.  They show a decrease in the debt added per year, with an eventual decrease until the only debt will be the TTC’s on the city’s budget.

“By 2013 there will be no new debt for city services,” Miller said. “We’ve reduced the reliance on debt which is significant.”

Budget committee chairperson Shelley Carroll also supported the move towards reducing the city’s dependency on debt for funding. But also pointed out that the city is constantly attempting to reduce its total debt.

“It’s important to notice that there’s a real balance here,” Carroll said. “We’re in a program where we’re retiring more debt.  We’re already on the course we should be on.”

A Keynesian educated economist, Miller, pointed to the economic slowdown as a time when the government should be investing in infrastructure, in the attempt to stimulate the economy.  This budget does just that, according to Miller, it is both prudent but addresses long overdue infrastructure needs for the city.

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The Truth is in there, somewhere

By Murray Crawford

It really didn’t take long for the new Conservative party to reveal the real reason for the election earlier this month.  They won’t admit it to anyone’s face but when you read between the lines Jim Flaherty’s public economic statements are every reason for an election.

While not willing to admit publicly that even Canada would be affected by the economic turmoil worldwide, it isn’t overly hard to figure out why the Conservatives sought a majority prior to any significant damage, or budget/economic reports that would portray the current fiscal management in a negative light.

Realistically if the Conservatives had gone into the next budget, with the parliament they had prior to the election, they would not have made it out in one piece.  The budget would show a deficit, it most likely will this fiscal year, and the Liberals would be more than able to attack the Conservative record on fiscal management.

So calling an election several months before the next budget, with the intention of gaining a majority, was for several reasons, all about protecting the actual state of Canada’s economy.  It could even be argued that if the election had gone the other way and the Liberals had won, they would have inherited a budget that was grossly in deficit and the Conservatives would have been able to attack that record.

Either way the election was originally about the economy.  It was never about leadership, it was never about the environment and it was never about sovereignty.  The election was to hide Canada’s eventual economic troubles.

There were other coincidences.  Literally days before the election occurred an FBI audio expert confirmed that it was Harper’s voice on the tape confirming his knowledge the “financial considerations” for Chuck Cadman’s widow.  In fact, Harper attempt to have the trial moved until after the election.  So there was more hiding of something the people would resent the current government for doing.

So it’s established that the Conservative government was trying to send a smoke screen covering the economic impact of the current financial crisis.  And by doing so they have, almost, established a powerful central governing body with a near majority government.  But without the total mandate it will be difficult to give Canadians the bad news next spring.  They will have to appease only a handful of opposition members, much easier than their slim minority last time.

What happens when the Conservatives announce the first non-surplus budget in a very long time?  There are two scenarios but one is more plausible than the other.  Shortly after the budget release there will be the Liberal leadership convention and a new leader.  The new leader will have one of two choices, immediately challenge the Conservatives and their deficit.  Or wait until the following budget and challenge the Conservatives and their second consecutive deficit.

Yes the likelihood of two consecutive deficits is debatable.  But that’s the only scenario where the Liberal’s have leverage to force an early election.  Either way the one thing Conservatives claim to do so well, responsible fiscal management, has been severely misrepresented since 2004.

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The Leader is Good The Leader is Great

By Murray Crawford

For the first time in, what seems like, a long time the Liberals got something right.  Well Stephane Dion did at least.

By not immediately resigning as the leader of the Liberal party he maintains continuity within the party until the leadership, which is something the party really needs right now.  They need a figure to generate funds for the party.  That will be Dion in the interim.

Dion in the interim, possibly the most promising phrase for the Liberals over the next few months.  The Liberal brand becomes an easier sell to potential donors under the knowledge that Dion is nothing more than a stop gap solution at this point.

While plugging someone new into the position right now as Dion was moved to the back burner was a serious possibility it would have been very irresponsible.  It happened to Bill Graham between John Turner and Jean Chretien.  Turner had just suffered his second consecutive loss, but by a closer margin than his first.  But it was still obvious that he was not the future.

The big difference here is that Turner and Graham were the opposition to a majority government and while they were able to sit and wait and build Dion, and his eventual replacement has to be ready for an election at any time.  As we have been shown even a Harper government that swore by fixed election dates can pull the plug when they feel like it.

So Turner’s replacement had the comfort of not being under fire immediately in a volatile government.  Dion’s replacement does not have this luxury.  Whoever it may be has to immediately be ready for an election at any point, a ruthless Prime Minister and a parliament that can turn to dysfunction faster than a family thanksgiving.

This was probably the most important factor in Dion’s decision to remain as leader.  So that if Parliament was thrown into an election, very highly unlikely but it’s always a possibility, in the near future again there will at least be a leader in place who was elected by the party.

Who that leader may be is the question on everyone’s mind.  And the big names are being thrown around, Ignatieff and Rae for example.  But these guys were on the losing team last time out.  That’s not the damming thing, the damming thing is that these guys went out and campaigned for Dion, and lost him seats.  Neither have these guys spent much time in their own riding, they focused on the national campaign.

If a team of Ignatieff and Rae can’t help someone win then why should either of them actually be leader.
In fact why should anyone currently in parliament be the leader?  The party has been fighting each other more than the other parties of late.  So how can choosing one of the bickering members unify the party?  What will happen is what did happen, long knives, backstabbing and perpetually questioning the choice.

So an outsider would be the intelligent approach, someone from not associated with the current Liberal contingent.  But who?  That question will play itself out, but he Liberal party must do it’s best to get someone who is not currently in the media spot light.

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Don’t Ever Trust A Fellow With a Helmet on His Head

By Murray Crawford

In 1979 the NHL grandfathered in a mandatory helmet rule.  Ever since then every new player in the NHL had to wear a helmet.  The last player to skate with his hair flowing freely was Craig MacTavish, now coach of the Edmonton Oilers.

Flash-forward to today when not a single player is helmetless and the NHL is even looking at making visors mandatory.  There remain an elite few who have given in to the pressure of wearing a helmet but refuse to utilize its protection abilities.  In the game they are the players with the helmet straps dangling much lower than the rest of the team.

When they go in for a fore-check the helmet typically gets dislodged and they have to put it back on their heads while skating back up the ice.  The helmet will pop off more often than a player who wears the straps tight, and even then the player who wears the straps looser will keep on playing while another player would skate to the bench for a change.

These are the toughest players in the game today, despite the NHL forcing them to don protection they refuse to don it properly and they refuse to give up when the helmet comes loose.  So here are five of the players who wouldn’t wear a helmet if it weren’t enforced.

Ryan Smyth – This guy bleeds hockey toughness.  When he and Chris Pronger were both Oilers Smyth took a Pronger point slap shot off the teeth.  Smyth lost teeth after that but suited up for the next period and assisted on the winning goal, talk about determination.  Smyth can often be seen flying into corners or getting whacked in front of the net, with his helmet coming off often enough that we all get to know his mullet.  It is quite the hockey mullet; Smyth is the definition of old school hockey.

Chris Chelios – Like Smyth Chelios has an immediate connection to the helmetless era.  While Craig MacTavish coached Smyth, Chelios played with Doug Wilson, one of the last helmetless players.  Chelios started professional hockey just five years after helmets were made mandatory.  If Chelios had his way it would have stayed optional.  He wears a very old helmet; a raggedy old thing that looks like it could break at any second.  He wears it loose too; his helmet has been known to pop off in a pinch.

Jarome Iginla – This may seem a little out of place because Iggy wears a visor but think back to the 2004 Stanley Cup Final.  Every game there was a moment when Iggy was fore-checking hard and deep in Tampa territory and, almost, like clockwork his helmet would pop off and he would try harder.  He was determined to score a changing goal.  When we saw his baldhead we knew that’s what he wanted to do.  He is one of the toughest guys in the league right now, bringing whole new meaning to the term Gordie Howe Hat-Trick.

Sean Avery – Everyone’s favourite scapegoat for everything wrong with the NHL.  He’s a loudmouth, a pest and he does his job very well.  While I don’t think he could stand up to the best fighters in the league, George Laraques and George Parros, he does a good job of being a distraction.  He still doesn’t wear a visor; he even alienated Quebecois with his comments about players who wear visors.  But he doesn’t like to do his helmet up properly.  It’ll pop off and show off his buzzed head. If you really want to see him helmetless watch The Rocket he plays Bob Dill, a tough guy who tries to beat up Maurice Richard but fails miserably, talk about type casting.

Darcy Tucker – There have been many words to describe Tucker over the years; terrier, fighter, leader, pest and, recently in Toronto, overpaid, but he does a good job of losing his lid more than others of his stature.  He wears it loose and gets madder when it pops off.  He is certainly up there in terms of age, so the question becomes how much longer can he run around and bounce off people?  Either way there was a time when he was the best.

There are more, many of them enforcers.  Laraques and Parros certainly fit the mold.  But there are fewer of them every year.  Is this tough guy trait slowly dying in a league that used to only accept the toughest?  There will always be a place in the league for those types of players, but let’s not forget the things they bring that other players don’t.

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