By HOWARD BERGER
TORONTO (May 1) – There was a juncture in my life when the passage of two decades seemed interminable. Not any more.
For me, it is hardly difficult to comprehend that one of the most enduring moments in the post-1967 Leafs era occurred 20 years ago tonight – May 1, 1993 – at Joe Louis Arena. Heck, it seems like yesterday. I was in Detroit, covering Game 7 of the Leafs-Red Wings opening-round playoff series for The Fan-590, as I did all 21 post-season matches in the legendary 42-night span – an incredible experience undaunted by the passage of time.
No hockey observer reasonably expected the Blue and White to advance beyond the first round – as few today are anticipating an upset of the Boston Bruins. Leafs were humiliated, 6-3 and 6-2, in the opening matches at JLA, but managed to get it together and force a deciding match on that Saturday, 20 years ago tonight. The outlook appeared gloomy for the visitors, who trailed, 3-2, with the clock ticking rapidly toward the end of regulation time.
Then, Doug Gilmour stepped up.
NIKOLAI BORSCHEVSKY (LEFT) AND DOUG GILMOUR WHOOP IT UP IN THE VISITORS’ DRESSING ROOM AT JOE LOUIS ARENA 20 YEARS AGO TONIGHT, AFTER BORSCHEVSKY’S GOAL AT 2:35 OF OVERTIME ELIMINATED DETROIT RED WINGS IN GAME 7 OF OPENING-ROUND PLAYOFF SERIES. GILMOUR HAD TIED THE MATCH.
The greatest player over the span of two-plus seasons in club history tied Game 7 with less than three minutes to play. He then helped set up the series-winning goal by linemate Nikolai Borschevsky early in the first overtime period. For most of the game, I sat with colleague Mark Hebscher in an auxiliary media location high up in one corner of the arena – above and to the left of the team benches. To ready myself for the post-game crush of cameras and microphones, I made my way down to ice level and stood in the dressing-room corridor, immediately to the left of the Detroit bench.
You could never do that today, with access to players and arena positions controlled to a far-greater extent. But, from that enviable spot, 20 years ago, I was able to watch the Gilmour and Borschevsky goals – and listen to the agonizing wail of Detroit players as their season disintegrated. The chorus of F-bombs that erupted from the Red Wings was matched only by the whoops and hollers of Maple Leaf players, who pored off the visitors’ bench in utter delight to man-handle Borschevsky. It’s a moment I will never forget.
I fetched my DVD of that game earlier today – it was televised by Hockey Night in Canada and replayed several times on Leafs TV.
Here is a frame-by-frame reminder of the Gilmour and Borschevsky goals, as viewed 20 years ago tonight on the full CBC network:
TYING GOAL BY DOUG GILMOUR
WENDEL CLARK SENDS THE PUCK IN FRONT TO UN-COVERED GILMOUR (93) WHO SWEEPS IT QUICKLY TOWARD DETROIT GOALIE TIM CHEVELDAE.
BOB ROUSE (3), PASSING THE GOAL, SEES PUCK IN THE NET BEFORE GILMOUR AND RAISES ARMS. GILMOUR THEN REALIZES HE HAS SCORED THE TYING GOAL WITH 2:43 LEFT IN REGULATION TIME AND TURNS IN FRONT WITH HIS ARMS UP.
GILMOUR AND TEAMMATES REJOICE WHILE CHEVELDAE LOOKS ON DEJECTEDLY.
MIKE FOLIGNO, BILL BERG (LEFT) AND ROB PEARSON (RIGHT) CELEBRATE GILMOUR GOAL ON LEAFS BENCH AS NO. 93 IS SHOWN ON THE BIG SCREEN.
OVERTIME WINNER BY NIKOLAI BORSCHEVSKY
GILMOUR PASSES ACROSS THE ICE IN RED WINGS ZONE TO BOB ROUSE, WHO FIRES THE PUCK AT CHEVELDAE WITH BORSCHEVSKY IN FRONT.
WITH CHEVELDAE WAY OUT OF POSITION, BORSCHEVSKY RE-DIRECTS THE SHOT FROM ROUSE FOR THE SERIES-WINNING GOAL. WENDEL CLARK (17) – SKATING THROUGH THE CREASE WITH KRIS DRAPER (33) OF DETROIT – RAISES ARM IN TRIUMPH.
REFEREE DON KOHARSKI POINTS TO BORSCHEVSKY WHILE LEAFS POUR OFF THE BENCH; EQUIPMENT MANAGER BRIAN PAPINEAU SQUEEZING WATER BOTTLE.
AS LEAF PLAYERS APPROACH BORSCHEVSKY, THE GOAL-SCORER HUGS WENDEL CLARK, WITH ASSISTANT COACHES RICK WAMSLEY AND MIKE MURPHY EMBRACING GENERAL MANAGER CLIFF FLETCHER IN THE JOE LOUIS ARENA PRESS BOX.
THE LATE PAT BURNS, IN HIS TRIUMPHANT FIRST SEASON AS COACH OF THE MAPLE LEAFS, WALKS ONTO THE ICE WITH ASSISTANT MIKE KITCHEN AND THEN PUMPS HIS FIST AT FLETCHER AND CREW ACROSS THE ICE IN PRESS BOX.
NUMBED BY DEFEAT, NICKLAS LIDSTROM AND CHEVELDAE LOOK ON FROM THE BENCH WHILE LEAFS CELEBRATE – SERGEI FEDOROV FACING OPPOSITE DIRECTION. THE LATE BOB PROBERT (24) THEN LEADS TEAM OFF THE BENCH WITH DINO CICCARELLI (22).
REPLAY FROM BEHIND THE RED WINGS NET SHOWS BORSCHEVSKY RE-DIRECTING BOB ROUSE SHOT PAST CHEVELDAE FOR THE SERIES-WINNING GOAL.
LEAFS AND RED WINGS SHAKE HANDS AT CENTER-ICE – BURNS AND THE LATE PETER ZEZEL APPROACHING VETERAN FORWARD KEITH PRIMEAU OF DETROIT.
I trust this will get fans of the Maple Leafs in the mood for tonight’s opener of the Boston series – the club’s first playoff match since May 4, 2004.
Remember to have lots of fun.
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