I used to have a form on this site for anyone to submit a guest blog entry. Five years ago today, a gentleman in British Columbia submitted a tribute to Robert Reichel who was leaving the Leafs after three seasons to play at home in the Czech league for Litvinov CHP HC.
Reichel was a fourth line player for the Leafs, and I regarded his absence as addition by subtraction. Still, someone felt he needed a tribute, so he got one.
A Tribute to Robert Reichel
It has been something of an enigma to the mind of your writer as I pen these words about the retirement of Robert Reichel from the vaunted Toronto Maple Leafs. A lot of people weren't too impressed with Reichel as a player but I have always liked him. Here are my five favourite goals he scored for us in the season 2003-04:
(Away) November 22nd, 2003. The Leafs roll into Vancouver to take on the greatest team in the Western Conference. I must admit I was fearful of seeing my beloved team lose to the Canucks. Out here in la-la-land, I was privileged to see my team in action, live. I wasn't disappointed. Reichel scored the second goal for the Leafs for a great night that the game ended 5 to 3 Leafs win. As I saw this game live, this was my favourite Reichel goal.
(Away) January 30th, 2004. The Leafs played in Atlanta. This was Reichel's 800th game, he opened the scoring by placing the first goal of the game. This would be his fifth goal (and twelve assists) of the year. Leafs ended the game 4 to 1. It is a note worthy comment here to say that this was Trevor Kidds BEST game of the year. Kidd's net minding preserved the Eagle for on the next night when the Leafs had bigger fish to fry at home hosting the Senator's. Reichel would have decisive contributions to this key game at the A.C.C.
(Home) January 31st, 2004. A score was to be settled. The Leafs earlier took a drubbing at home by the Ottawa Senators. As the Leafs were in for a long night the Ottawa captain thought it was a good idea to mock Mats Sundin. This man has been marked. But, lets talk about the game. I personally thought this was the best game the Leafs played all year. Certainly it was my favourite.It was Pat Quinn's 600th win and Tie Domi got his revenge. Robert Reichel had two important goals to contribute in this epic game. In the first period, Reichel on his knees scored tying the game 1 to 1 . Later, (I've never seen this before) Reichel shot the puck and Gary Roberts tipped it in with NO TIME ON THE CLOCK to score Leafs were now 3 to 1. The end result was 5 to 1 Leafs. I can only imagine how it must have been to see that game at the A.C.C live.
(Away) April 3rd, 2004. At the Toronto Maple Leafs home away from home the Corel Centre, the Leafs proceed to take a ball pien hammer the Ottawa Senators. The 6 to 0 blow out was impressive to watch. Reichel scored the fifth goal in this rout. This sadly would be his last goal in the N.H.L. Reichel was unsuccessful in scoring any goals in the playoffs for the Leafs.
The reader may ask why do I harp on about some fourth line player? I feel it will be the Robert Reichel's or the Travis Green's or the Robert Svehla's that will one day end this cursed drought that has dogged our team. Yes I know our biggest guns (Mogilny, Nolan, Sundin, Nieuwendyk, or their successor's) can and will be counted on to get us, one day, to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals. Our deliverer, who will score a goal to be the man who's goal will equal Bill Barilko's in fame will be a man from the fourth line. (Or, I'd like Darcy Tucker do be the man). I just feel a laughing fate has arranged that. I regret if I have been too melodramatic here; I'd like to close by saying to Robert Reichel thank you for your efforts and best wishes to you and your family when you return the Czech Republic to live.
Five years ago, this tribute was credited to the author's real name. A few years ago, D.C. wrote me and asked me to delete his real name and use his initials. People would Google him and see his tribute to Reichel. I'm guessing his credibility and integrity was shot right there.
Robert Reichel left the blue and white five years ago this week. He was not The Greatest Leaf in the World, no. This is just a tribute.