In Case You Forgot (or Never Knew)

By HOWARD BERGER

TORONTO (Apr. 21) – No, the Maple Leafs didn’t make the playoffs for the first time on Saturday night. It just seems that way.

Perhaps you weren’t alive the last time it happened. If you are less than 18 years of age, this will almost certainly be the first playoff you’ll remember. Bottom line is: Maple Leafs have finally ended a nine-year drought and will partake in the Stanley Cup tournament for the first time since 2004 after routing the Senators, 4-1, in Ottawa. Now, the wait is on for a dance partner.

Will it be Montreal?

Will it be Boston?

Will it be Washington?

I’ll take Door No. 2 – the Bruins – but the final week of the 48-game regular schedule will determine the Leafs’ first-round opponent.

START SPREADIN’ THE NEWS

SUNDAY FRONT PAGES…

        

To get you in the mood, I dug into my scrapbook collection once again for undisputed evidence the Leafs have been in the playoffs. Here is a selection of triumphant moments between 1978 and 1996. Enjoy.

APRIL 1978

THE HAROLD BALLARD YEARS (1972-1990) WERE THE DARKEST IN MAPLE LEAFS HISTORY. THERE WAS, HOWEVER, ONE MOMENT THAT REMAINS LEGENDARY – LANNY McDONALD COMPLETING A MONUMENTAL UPSET OF THE NEW YORK ISLANDERS WITH AN OVERTIME GOAL IN GAME 7 OF THE STANLEY CUP QUARTERFINALS AT NASSAU COLISEUM. LEAFS LOST THE FIRST TWO GAMES BUT REBOUNDED TO WIN FOUR OF FIVE.

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GAME 7: TORONTO at NEW YORK ISLANDERS – APR. 29, 1978

APRIL 1987

LEAFS MADE THE PLAYOFFS ON THE FINAL WEEKEND OF THE SCHEDULE, KNOCKING OFF CHICAGO AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS. THE 1986-87 CLUB – MEDIOCRE THROUGHOUT THE 80-GAME REGULAR SEASON – CAME ALIVE IN THE PLAYOFFS, UPSETTING ST. LOUIS IN SIX GAMES BEFORE GOING THE DISTANCE WITH DETROIT (AND LOSING) IN THE CAMPBELL CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS. LEAFS WERE LED BY RUSS COURTNALL, RICK VAIVE, STEVE THOMAS, WENDEL CLARK, GARY LEEMAN, TOM FERGUS AND – PARTICULARLY – BY GOALIE KEN WREGGET, WHO PERFORMED MIRACLES.

 

GETTING IN…

CHICAGO at TORONTO – SATURDAY, APR. 4, 1987

GAME 2 – TORONTO at ST. LOUIS: APR. 9, 1987

GAME 4: ST. LOUIS at TORONTO – APR. 12, 1987

GAME 5: TORONTO at ST. LOUIS – APR. 14, 1987

GAME 6: ST. LOUIS at TORONTO – APR. 14, 1987

OY VEY…

GAME 1: TORONTO at DETROIT – APR. 21, 1987

GAME 2: TORONTO at DETROIT – APR. 23, 1987

GAME 4 TICKET: DETROIT at TORONTO

GAME 4: DETROIT at TORONTO – APR. 27, 1987

MAY 1993

DEPENDING ON AGE, FANS OF THE LEAFS REMEMBER; HAVE READ ABOUT AND/OR SEEN VIDEO REPLAYS OF THE 1993 PLAYOFF RUN THAT ENDED IN GAME 7 OF THE STANLEY CUP SEMIFINALS AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS. LEAFS BEAT DETROIT IN SEVEN GAMES; ST. LOUIS IN SEVEN GAMES, THEN LOST GAME 7 OF THE CAMPBELL CONFERENCE FINAL TO WAYNE GRETZKY AND THE LOS ANGELES KINGS – SPOILING A TORONTO-MONTREAL ENCOUNTER FOR THE NHL CHAMPIONSHIP. PAT BURNS… DOUG GILMOUR… DAVE ANDREYCHUK… WENDEL CLARK… GLENN ANDERSON… FELIX POTVIN… THEY LED THE UPSTART LEAFS THROUGH A REMARKABLE SEASON AND SPRING.

 

GAME 7: TORONTO at DETROIT – MAY 1, 1993

GAME 1: ST. LOUIS at TORONTO – MAY 3, 1993

MAY 1994

AFTER SETTING A NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE RECORD BY WINNING THEIR FIRST TEN GAMES OF 1993-94, LEAFS FLATTENED OUT AND PLAYED AT A .500 CLIP. STILL, LEAFS MADE IT TO ROUND THREE OF THE STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS FOR A SECOND CONSECUTIVE YEAR – 98 REGULAR-SEASON POINTS ENABLING THE CLUB TO START AT HOME IN EACH SERIES. LEAFS AND BLACKHAWKS PLAYED THE FINAL GAME AT STORIED CHICAGO STADIUM ON APR. 28 – TORONTO PREVAILING, 1-0, TO WIN THE OPENING-ROUND SET IN SIX. THE ENSUING ROUNDS, AGAINST SAN JOSE AND VANCOUVER, WERE PLAYED IN A 2-3-2 FORMAT; LEAFS PLAYING THE FIRST TWO GAMES AT HOME BEFORE THREE STRAIGHT ON THE ROAD. THE SHARKS WERE ELIMINATED IN GAME 7 AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS – ENDING A CRAZY, BACK AND FORTH SERIES. LEAFS THEN BEAT VANCOUVER IN THE OPENER OF THE CONFERENCE FINAL AT THE GARDENS BEFORE LOSING FOUR CONSECUTIVELY – AND THE SERIES – AT PACIFIC COLISEUM.

  

GAME 4: TORONTO at SAN JOSE – MAY 8, 1994

        

GAME 6: SAN JOSE at TORONTO – MAY 12, 1994

BEFORE GAME 7…

GAME 7: SAN JOSE AT TORONTO – MAY 14, 1994

GAME 1: VANCOUVER at TORONTO – MAY 16, 1994

MAY 1995

AFTER A MEDIOCRE 48-GAME SEASON – SHORTENED BY THE FIRST OWNERS’ LOCKOUT – LEAFS HOOKED UP WITH CHICAGO IN THE OPENING ROUND. AFTER WINNING THE FIRST TWO GAMES AT UNITED CENTER, LEAFS CAME HOME TO DROP GAMES 3 AND 4 AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS. CHICAGO ULTIMATELY PREVAILED IN GAME 7 ON HOME ICE.

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GAME 1: TORONTO at CHICAGO – MAY 7, 1995

        

GAME 2: TORONTO at CHICAGO – MAY 9, 1995

GAME 6: CHICAGO at TORONTO – MAY 17, 1995

        

APRIL 1996

THIS SEASON IS BEST REMEMBERED FOR A 3-16-3 DEATH-SPIRAL THAT COST PAT BURNS HIS JOB AS COACH OF THE LEAFS. BURNS WAS REPLACED BY NICK BEVERLEY, WHO TOOK LEAFS INTO THE OPENING ROUND OF THE PLAYOFFS AGAINST ST. LOUIS. IN GAME 2 – AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS – LEAFS FORWARD (NOW SPORTSNET HOCKEY GURU) NICK KYPREOS “FELL” ON GRANT FUHR IN THE GOAL-CREASE AND, TO THIS DAY, KIPPER IS THE ONLY PERSON ON EARTH WHO BELIEVES IT WAS AN ACCIDENT. NOT THAT IT MATTERED. JON CASEY CAME IN TO REPLACE FUHR AND LED ST. LOUIS TO A SIX-GAME TRIUMPH OVER THE “NIMRODS” (BEVERLEY’S ENDEARING TERM).

GAME 2: ST. LOUIS at TORONTO – APR. 18, 1996

GAME 5: ST. LOUIS at TORONTO – APR. 25, 1996

        

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