4:51

A TeardropGary Bettman will follow my lead any day now and cancel the 2004-2005 NHL season. This entry isn't about that but about a Maple Leaf memory I can't erase from my psyche, no matter how hard I try.

In March 2003, Pat Quinn traded for Doug Gilmour at the deadline. #93 was returning for one last kick at the can, one final playoff run in front of the fans who worship him like a god. I remember the joy I felt learning of the trade, donning my #93 jersey and sitting down in front of the television to watch his glorious return on that fateful Thursday night.

4:51. That how long Gilmour played during his return to the blue and white before being hobbled. Four minutes and fifty-one seconds. His season and career was over and we wouldn't advance past the first round of the playoffs that spring.

I'm haunted by that image of Gilmour lying on the ice in pain, crawling with all remaining strength towards the Leafs bench. It wasn't supposed to end that way. That wasn't in the script.

Bettman, I have different thoughts about you that I'll share at a later time. For now, I'm thinking of that 4:51 and what could should have been.


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