TORONTO — The plaza outside the empty NHL arena, home of the Maple Leafs, was packed and jumping like a mosh pit in the damp cold on Saturday night, even in Canadian spring.
Center Jon Tavares, far south of Tampa, Florida, scored against the Lightning in overtime to end the Maple Leafs’ futile playoff stretch. The team’s general manager, Kyle Dubas, has long been criticized for sticking to an underperforming roster: behind the bench, Sheldon’s Keef his coach was attacked by his assistants, and the players left the stick threw down the board, climbed onto the board, and joined his teammates on the ice.
Back in Toronto, car horns blared in this long-running playoff wasteland, near and far from the outdoor crowd watching the game on giant screens. Ah! Ah! Ah!
Mob, some members screaming, others crying. some fireworks, A person who suddenly became shirtless, throbbed like a crowd in a nightclub. Several dramatic celebs climbed a lamppost, hanging with one hand and filming the scene with the other.
It was a thrilling madness for a city that had only had the chance to play the sport a few times this century. Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal Canada in the championship game against the United States at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Jose Bautista’s three-run shot (and then a batflip Helped the Blue Jays win the American League Division Series in 2015. When the Raptors won the 2019 NBA Finals. Ah! Ah! Ah!
The Leafs, who last won the Stanley Cup in 1967, hadn’t won a playoff round since 2004.
“Unbelievable!” Darryl Sitler, a popular Leafs captain who played 12 seasons for Toronto in the 1970s and early 80s, still holds the NHL record. Highest 10 points in a single regular season game.
Mitch Marner, right winger for the Leafs outside Toronto, called it a “relief.” Ouston Matthews of America’s Star Center called it “pretty exciting” and “a small step on a long journey”.
rear beat Ottawa in 2004 They then lost to Philadelphia in the second round and the Leafs missed the playoffs the following season. Then missed them again. and again. and again. and again. and again. and again. Although the drought ended in 2013, stunned by the bruins In a Game 7 collapse where Torontons are still vain. Then there were another three seasons of him missing the postseason.
“When you lose the first game at home, everybody’s like, ‘Oh, it’s again,'” Sittler said of the one-sided loss to Tampa Bay in the opening game of this year’s series. “But then we won his second, went to Tampa and got some breaks unlike other years where other teams took breaks and collapsed. shattered our hopes and possibilities of
it explained Crowd chants at Maple Leaf Square: “We want Florida! We want Florida!” The Panthers obliged by completing their comeback from a 3-1 series deficit on Sunday night in Boston.
When the Leafs drafted Matthews with the No. 1 overall pick in 2016, they started surrounding him with multi-million dollar talent. manorthe 4th pick overall for 2015. Tavares, signed a free agency contract in 2018.and right wing William Nylanderthe team’s 2014 first-round pick.
Still, a good regular season ended in playoff disappointment. The NHL’s young, glamorous team left Toronto in a mental slump each spring. However, Duvas left the core intact, adding and subtracting around the goal and edges, locking the talented defenseman Leaf on his longest serve. Morgan Rileywith an eight-year contract extension for 2021.
“Management believed in them and stuck with them,” Sittler said. “We believe in them, and they will take us as far as we think this hockey club can go.”
After the game, Keef said he felt all year that this season was different from previous seasons. Keef, who is in his fourth season, said. “It’s been different all season, and I’m happy to say that it’s different now.”
On November 11, former Leafs star and Swedish defenseman Borje Salming said: Honored before the annual Hockey Hall of Fame game.
Summing, who had end-stage amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, was transported from Sweden to Toronto despite being unable to speak, having trouble walking and requiring a feeding tube. With Sittler and retired Swedish center Mats Sundin flanking him, watching the present and the future, stood the three men who defined the Leafs’ long and troubled past. Past, present, and future came apart as Sittler held Salming’s right arm in the air and allowed the crowd to leave the ice.
“You could see the stoic look on every player’s face,” Sittler said. “I got very emotional because I thought Borge and I were young guys, we loved our jobs, we were playing for a Leafs team with a packed house.”
In 1978, when the Leafs lost in the conference finals, Summing and Sitler came close to the Stanley Cup. He doesn’t remember it year by year, but how many games he played with each team and what they were like. He needed seven tough games against the Islanders, and Montreal lost four in a row to an outstanding team of the Canadiens.
Sittler was in the front office when the Leafs had another successful run in 1993-94, reaching the conference finals for the second year in a row.
“The city was on fire,” he said. “People were honking their horns and flags flying down Yonge Street,” he added. It’s been a long time, I understand. ”
“I’ve seen the Raptors win in this city,” he said. “For the Leafs, it’s a few notches up in size. Everyone’s waiting for it.”
After a disappointing 7-3 loss in Game 1 against the Lightning, the Leafs won their third straight game. In Game 4, after Toronto trailed him 4–1, he scored three goals in just over six minutes in the third period to win overtime. It’s been a heroic season for the Leafs on and off the ice in the city, to say the least. Preparation.
“Being a Maple Leaf is something special,” said Tavares, who was born outside of Toronto and played for the Islanders before signing a seven-year, $77 million deal with his childhood favorite team in 2018. I was. Especially with some of the disappointments we experienced. ”
In November, Sittler cried by Summing, lamenting the cruelty of ALS, not hockey.Columnist for The Globe and Mail Kahal Kelly wrote that night It was Toronto’s own Lou Gehrig moment and “a great image of the last 20 years of Leafs history.”
Samming died a few weeks later at his home in Sweden.
No one said that Gehrig died in June 1941 and that the Yankees won the World Series four months later. Leafs still has a long way to go, but symbols are a big part of this franchise and this city.
Sittler remembered that night when the Leafs players shook Samming’s hand and hugged him. “There was no dry eye in that place,” he said. “Even writing a script like that is difficult. It’s about making it happen.”
Now, against Florida, the Leafs try to craft an ending to that unfinished script, one Salming and Sittler couldn’t write themselves.