Category Archives: Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Beats The Habs. I Hate Hockey

Things were going so well for me lately. I’ve had a few days off where I’ve just kind of lounged around. Twice in the last two days my wife has suggested we go out for some beers, and how good is that? My problem stepdaughter has found a nice apartment over on the island.

So things have been good.

But I knew it. I knew my good times were winding down when Toronto lost 8-0 to Florida the other night. I knew they were playing Montreal next, and I just knew these Leafs, who normally stink, were going to play like the 1972 Russian National Team against the Habs.

Bad news for me, and bad news for Montreal. Toronto wins 4-2. I’m gonna take up cricket. GO PAKISTAN!

It would’ve been better probably if the game was played in Toronto instead of Montreal. The Leafs would’ve felt crazy pressure at home, more than in Montreal. Instead, they got to get out of Dodge and play some pond hockey.

Frankly, Montreal hasn’t looked great in their last three games. They blew a three goal lead to the Rangers and lost 5-3. They barely hung on to win 4-3 against Ottawa after leading 4-1. And tonight, against Toronto, a team with about five NHL’ers and about 15 American Hockey Leaguers, they lost 4-2.

Kovalev was great again for the Habs. Carey Price, just called up from Hamilton, was good. A few others were pretty good.

The rest suffered from a bout of narcolepsy.

The Circus Is In Town: Montreal Takes On The Leafs

This might not be good for the Montreal Canadiens. They play the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night, and because the Leafs just got pasted 8-0 by the Florida Panthers, of all teams, they won’t be feeling good right now. This is a team in turmoil, has been all year, all decade, all several decades, and we’ve seen this scenario before. A team gets embarrassed, humiliated, laughed at, and dismissed, and comes out next game and plays like gangbusters.

The Leafs usually play well against the Habs anyway, so when I think about it, this game could smell. 

But it shouldn’t. The Habs are hotter than Angelina Jolie in heat, and are 16 points better than the Leafs, who are as cold as cold can be.

If I had a say in this, I’d want another 8-0 loss for the Leafs. I always have great evenings when Montreal scores a lot.

The Leafs in turmoil is part of being a Leaf. Even in the ’30’s, ’40’s, and ’50’s, Owner Conn Smythe was hiring and firing and mouthing off to the press about players like Busher Jackson and coaches like Dick Irvin and Billy Reay. There were the fights between Punch Imlach and various players such as Frank Mahovlich in the 1960’s. And Harold Ballard took turmoil to new heights in the 1970’s and ’80’s when he fought with Darryl Sittler and had his ‘C’ removed from his sweater, and when he ordered coach Roger Neilson to wear a paper bag over his head. (Neilson refused, thankfully.) Or Ballard going on about hating European players and how he wouldn’t let the Russians ever play at Maple Leaf Gardens. (He did anyway.)

Then there was the boardroom backstabbing, with Ballard trying to make his girlfriend Yolanda, who knew nothing about running a hockey team, a principle shareholder.

Frankly, I’ve never understood why King Clancy remained so faithful to the miserable old coot all those years.

Now, this year, GM John Ferguson Jr. has been fired, (probably rightfully so), and Cliff Fletcher has been brought in to restore some sanity to the asylum. Coach Paul Maurice’s job is hanging by a thread, and the Leafs’ best player, Mats Sundin, is the only one in the free world who thinks he’s staying put and not traded.

It’s all wonderful stuff.  And it’ll be even more wonderful if the Habs clobber them Thursday night.

The Boys Are Playing Large: Like The ’67 Leafs

On Tuesday night, Montreal beat the Islanders 3-1. There’s only one thing to say about this. The Habs are playing really, really well. As we speak, they’re one of the top teams in the east.

Last year at this time, after 45 games, Montreal had 55 points. This year, after the same amount of games, the team has 54 points. BUT! Last year, they won only 4 of their next 16 games. That won’t happen this year. Kovalev’s at the top of his game, so’s Plekanec and Huet, and the Kostitsyn’s are here this year.

The general consensus is that a team like Detroit, or Anaheim and Ottawa, or maybe New Jersey or Pittsburgh, are the ones that have so much going for them, they’re the odds-on favourites to win the Cup. Any of them.

But n 1967, Toronto won the Cup and they weren’t supposed to. They were a team of really old guys like Johnny Bower, Terry Sawchuk, Allan Stanley, Bob Baun, Tim Horton, Red Kelly etc. and they defied the odds, and the general consensus. They were far from the favourites. (Please note: I’m no Leaf fan.)

Without getting carried away here, maybe Montreal can surprise people and go deep into the playoffs. Just like the ’67 Leafs. It’s that power of positive thinking again.

As an aside –

When Toronto won in 1967, they played and beat Montreal in the final, 4 games to two. The kicker is that Montreal had won the past two years before that, and won the next two years after that. So if Toronto hadn’t pulled off that big upset, Montreal would have won five straight Cups, like they did from 1955 to ’60.