Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Sunday, I appeared on The Team 990 in Montreal. If you haven't heard my 8-minute segment yet, click on over and give it a listen.
I made a statement that's ruffled a few Habs fans feathers. I confidently predicted that my Toronto Maple Leafs and their Montreal Canadiens would win the exact same number of playoff games this season. In other words, the Habs will be swept in four games in their opening round.
Metric Julie was on The Team 990 at that time, and she proposed a bet to make things interesting. I agreed, and now we've settled on the terms.
If the Habs fail to win a playoff game this year, Metric Julie will sing "The Leafs Are The Best" on Montreal sports radio. If you haven't heard this epic song, hear it below.
This is going to be fun. If the Habs win a game, I have to... nahhhh, it's not going to happen. No need to worry about it.
Go Leaf Go!
I appeared on Montreal's only English sports radio station tonight, The Team 990. The show is called Game Points and they had me on following their discussion about my blog last week.
It's not easy being cocky when your team hasn't played a playoff game in five years but I think I pulled it off. Have a listen and tell me what you think.
Think back upon all the Leafs games you've attended over the years. Which was your favourite?
Five years ago today, I wrote about My Game. This game took place over twenty years ago, but it remains my personal fave.
I attended the last Toronto Maple Leafs game of the 1980s. I have the ticket stub to prove it. I attended the game on December 30, 1989 with my buddy Joe and it remains to this day the most entertaining game I've ever seen live. This is the story of my game.
The first 37:09 of play was dismal. In fact, we had brought a megaphone and began heckling our beloved Leafs. After one defensive lapse, we anointed a particular blueliner "Al I-Afraid-Of-The-Puck". The Leafs trailed the Boston Bruins 6-1 at this point and with only a few minutes left in the second we were literally playing the funeral march. We knew our limitations and overcoming a deficit of this nature against a far better team wasn't going to happen. Furthermore, prior to this game, the Leafs were 1-16-1 when trailing after 40 minutes. Conversely, the Bruins were 12-1-1 when leading after two periods. To make matters even worse, the Bruins had won six in a row against us.
This is when my game becomes legendary. After Vincent Damphousse scored to bring us within four, Gary Leeman began the unpredictable rally at 4:59 of the third. Only a couple of minutes later, Luke Richardson scored to make it 6-4. It was at this point that we began to believe in the unbelievable. Could we? Would we? Ed Olczyk brought us closer to this realization when he banked the puck in off Stephane Quintal behind Andy Moog. It was 6-5 and the blue and white express was in full effect.
I think it would have been extremely painful to have lost this game 6-5 after trailing 6-1 so late in the contest. Thankfully, I knew we'd complete this unprecedented comeback. I knew we had a couple more rabbits in the hat. Eddie O came through again on a break away to send my game into overtime. The Leafs could actually win this game they had no business being in. I was ecstatic, beside myself, in complete disbelief. I didn't want to tie the Bruins in this final game of the 1980s, I wanted to beat them.
With 1:41 remaining in the extra period and after Al Iafrate made a great play to keep the puck inside the blueline, Wendel Clark whacked home the winner. The Toronto Maple Leafs had defeated the Boston Bruins after trailing 6-1 late in the second. My voice is still sore from screaming after Clark's goal. It felt as if we had just won the Stanley Cup.
There were 16,382 of us there that night, but nobody left Maple Leaf Gardens happier than I. I had just witnessed a miracle that I'd never forget.
I had quite the iron man streak of Maple Leaf recaps going. I had written a recap of every Leafs game since the start of the 2003/2004 season until Brendan Burke passed away. I couldn't find it in me to recap that night's game.
Post Olympics, I had another problem. There's now been ten games since the Olympics and I haven't written a single recap. I think I'm done with recapping Leafs games this season.
I've been watching, though, and following. The past ten games have actually been quite entertaining, and we've won six of them, including two against those hateful Sens. It's clear to me that my recaps have been holding us back, even though we did win one playoff series during my recap era, although that was against the Senators and probably shouldn't count.
We've got the team I love to hate, the Habs, on Saturday night, and I might be talking about it on Montreal sports radio Sunday night. We'll see if they can meet my hefty salary demands.
I'll just close this recap of my lack of recaps by saying Phil Kessel can score. He's at 27 and counting. Brian Burke's no dummy.
And oh yeah... Go Leafs Go!
I love this photo of The Great One and The Greatest One.
[via Vintage Leafs]
Vintage Leafs is a blog that posts pictures from the Toronto Maple Leafs' past. Today Vintage Leafs posted this cover from the Toronto Star's Star Week in 1975.
If you're my age or younger, you don't remember the Toronto Toros. The Toronto Toros were a WHA team that played in Toronto from 1973 to 1976. The fun stuff happened when the Toros left Varsity Arena for Maple Leaf Gardens for the '74-'75 season, hence this cheeky Star Week cover.
The Toros moved to the Gardens for the 1974–75 season. However, by this time Harold Ballard had regained control of the Gardens. Ballard was a violent opponent of the WHA; he never forgave the upstart league for nearly decimating the Leafs' roster in the early 1970s. He deliberately made the Toros' lease terms at the Gardens as onerous as possible. The Toros' lease with Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd. called for them to pay $15,000 per game. However, much to Bassett's outrage, the arena was dim for the first game. It was then that Ballard demanded $3,500 for use of the lights. Ballard also denied the Toros access to the Leafs' locker room, forcing them to build their own at a cost of $55,000. He also removed the cushions from the home bench for Toros' games (he told an arena worker, "Let 'em buy their own cushions!"). It was obvious that Ballard was angered at the WHA being literally in his backyard, and took his frustration on the renegade league out on the Toros.
Oh, to have been blogging about Harold Ballard in those good 'ol days. In 1976, the Toros officially lost that "battle at the boxoffice" and flew the coop for Birmingham. It's hard to believe they failed with a fierce logo like this...
After my hockey game last night, I tuned in The Fan 590 for the drive home. They opened up the phone lines to play a little game of "would you rather". The question was "would you give up Canada's gold medal in men's hockey for a Toronto Maple Leaf Stanley Cup victory?"
It was almost midnight on a Friday night, and the host was clearly trying to stimulate a discussion, but for a Leafs fan this really isn't a difficult question to ponder. The choice is clear. Every fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs would very gladly give up Sidney Crosby's golden goal for another Stanley Cup. We'd do it in a heartbeat, and there's several reasons why...
Our Emotional Investment
I'm 35 years old, and I've been rooting for the blue and white with all my might since Peter Ihnacak and Miroslav Frycer were lighting the lamp. That's almost 30 years of Stanley Cup dreams unfulfilled. I want to enjoy the payoff. I need to enjoy the payoff.
A Boy's Dream
Playing ball hockey every Saturday afternoon throughout the 80s, I never once dreamed about scoring the gold medal winning goal. I always dreamed about scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal, for my Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Road to Glory is Gruelling
The Olympic gold was locked up after 7 games. We had to win 4 playoff games, against Germany, Russia, Slovakia and the USA. Compare that to what you have to do to win the cup. There is no tougher tournament than the Stanley Cup playoffs.
This City Would Go Nuts
I remember well how this city exploded in 1992 and 1993 after the Jays won their World Series titles. I was on the streets, screaming and hollering. If the Leafs were to win a Stanley Cup, this city would go absolutely ape shit. Take that World Series celebration and multiply it by 10.
J pointed out this cool video of Torontonians celebrating our gold medal on Yonge street last Sunday night. It looks like a fun party, but I've seen far bigger crowds when the Leafs advance past the first round of the playoffs.
Is there a single Leaf fan who wouldn't give up this gold for a Stanley Cup?
Last night, I sat down to watch my first hockey game since Sunday afternoon. This one felt a little different.
On Sunday, I capped off a couple of weeks of Olympic hockey by watching quality play from the world's best with the highest of stakes on the line. It simply doesn't get any better than that. My team won in overtime, sending my house and my country into a frenzy. It was the highest of highs, and I was top of the world.
Last night, reality sunk in. My other team, my NHL team, stinks. We're threatening to finish last overall, we don't own our first two picks and we're just playing out the string. Watching the Leafs right now is just about the polar opposite in terms of intensity, meaning and skill that we witnessed watching Team Canada win Gold in Vancouver.
I'm sure I'll get used to this, but for now I feel the way I felt returning to normal television after watching all five seasons of The Wire. It's culture shock.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded goaltender Joey MacDonald to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a 7th round draft pick in 2011.
It was a weird day for the Ducks and Leafs and their goaltenders. Joey Mac came to town last summer to replace Justin Pogge who was traded to Anaheim. Then, earlier this year, Vesa Toskala was traded to the Ducks. And today, the Ducks traded both Pogge and Toskala and got Joey Mac from the Leafs. That means there will be four goaltenders who have played for both the Ducks and Leafs over the past twelve months: Jean-Sébastien Giguère, Vesa Toskala, Justin Pogge and Joey MacDonald.
Now where was Burke before he came to Toronto again?
The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded forward Lee Stempniak to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for a fourth and seventh round draft picks and defenseman Matt Jones.
I didn't mind Stempniak, but he was a UFA and had to go. The trade that really bugs me happened in 2008 when we shipped Carlo Colaiacovo and Alex Steen to the St. Louis Blues for forward Lee Stempniak.
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