By HOWARD BERGER
TORONTO (Nov. 30) — There was no messin’ with the Maple Leafs on Saturday night. In a performance glaringly reminiscent of the winning era under Pat Quinn from 1998 to 2006, the Leafs routed Washington 6–2 at the Air Canada Centre — taking control of the game not long after a moving video tribute to the late coach.
Quinn died last Sunday in Vancouver after a lengthy illness. He was 71. Just hours earlier, Quinn’s lifelong friend and former Leafs teammate, Murray Oliver, had succumbed to a heart attack at 77 in Minnesota. The Maple Leafs poignantly remembered both men in a pre–game reflection that had players from each team straining toward the huge video–board above center–ice. Fans and media were given a commemorative pin with the initials “P Q” inside a green cloverleaf. Yes, the big Irishman would have been proud of his former club on this night.
THE START OF A VIDEO TRIBUTE TO PAT QUINN ON SATURDAY NIGHT.
Leafs qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs in six of seven seasons under Quinn. The club has since advanced to the Cup tournament only once — and not in a full 82–game schedule (Leafs made it after the 48–game season of 2012, truncated by an owners’ lockout). Quinn remains the only coach to guide Leafs to 100 points in the standings; he did it three times in five years and a 103–point accumulation in 2003–04 remains the club record. Under Quinn, the Leafs twice made it to the Stanley Cup semifinal — in 1999, losing to Buffalo and in 2002, to Carolina. Some hockey observers maintain a healthy Leafs team could have won the Stanley Cup in ’02. But, a host of untimely injuries got in the way, particularly involving Mats Sundin and Darcy Tucker.
I had my trusty NIKON with me in the ACC press box on Saturday:
TSN-1050 MORNING–SHOW HOST MIKE RICHARDS APPEARS TO HAVE COME BETWEEN ALEX OVECHKIN (LEFT) AND MARCUS JOHANSSON DURING THE PRE–GAME WARM–UP.
IN THE VIDEO TRIBUTE, QUINN WAS SHOWN DURING HIS PLAYING DAYS HERE…
AND FLASHING HIS IRISH SMILE COURTESY OF ON–ICE PROJECTION.
OLIVER AND QUINN WERE LEAF TEAMMATES IN 1968–69 AND 1969–70.
REFEREE FRANCIS CHARRON GETS SET TO DROP THE PUCK BETWEEN NAZEM KADRI OF THE MAPLE LEAFS AND JAY BEAGLE OF THE CAPITALS.
WITH GOALIE JONATHAN BERNIER FLAT ON HIS BACK, NICKLAS BACKSTROM AND ALEX OVECHKIN ARE PART OF AN EARLY SCRUM AROUND THE MAPLE LEAFS NET. TOM WILSON OF WASHINGTON HAS LEAFS CAPTAIN DION PHANEUF PINNED TO THE ICE.
MIKE SANTORELLI (25), NAZEM KADRI (43), LEO KOMAROV (47) AND STEPHANE ROBIDAS (12) CONGRATULATE SECOND–YEAR DEFENSEMAN MORGAN RIELLY, WHO GAVE THE LEAFS A 1–0 LEAD AT 14:15 OF THE FIRST PERIOD.
COACH BARRY TROTZ HAS DONE A GOOD JOB IN HIS FIRST SEASON BEHIND THE CAPITALS BENCH BUT NOTHING HE DID OR SAID COULD HELP HIS TEAM ON SATURDAY.
PRESS ROW AT THE AIR CANADA CENTRE IS RARELY FILLED TO CAPACITY FOR WEEKEND GAMES, AS MANY FEWER PEOPLE ARE WORKING. JOE BOWEN AND JIM RALPH (UPPER–RIGHT AND BELOW) HAVE BEEN TOGETHER IN THE LEAFS RADIO BOOTH FOR 20 YEARS.
PHIL KESSEL AND ALEX OVECHKIN CONVERSE PRIOR TO LINING UP FOR SECOND–PERIOD FACEOFF. THEY COMBINED TO SCORE 88 GOALS LAST SEASON.
MAPLE LEAF BANNERS HANG BENEATH THE ACC GIRDERS.
NO, LEO KOMAROV IS NOT ADMIRING THE CANADIAN TIRE AD NEAR CENTER–ICE; HE IS GLIDING TO THE BENCH AFTER BEING SHAKEN UP ON A QUESTIONABLE HIT BY ALEX OVECHKIN IN THE THIRD PERIOD. LOCAMOTIVE LEO DID NOT RETURN.
JONATHAN BERNIER FRESHENS UP AT THE LEAFS BENCH DURING A TV TIME–OUT WHILE BACK–UP GOALIE JAMES REIMER WATCHES SOMETHING ON THE VIDEO–BOARD.
FRESHLY SURFACED ICE LATE IN THE SECOND INTERMISSION.
SKATE GOUGES REFLECT OFF BRIGHT TV LIGHTS NEAR CENTER–ICE CIRCLE.
LEAFS DEFENSEMAN KORBINIAN HOLZER EFFECTIVELY TIES UP MARCUS JOHANSSON LATE IN THE GAME, ALLOWING BERNIER A CLEAR VIEW OF SHOT.
GIVEN THE INTENSE LOOKS ON HEAD COACH RANDY CARLYLE (RIGHT) AND ASSISTANT STEVE SPOTT, YOU’D THINK THE MAPLE LEAFS WERE IN SOME PERIL. BUT, THE GAME WAS WELL IN HAND AT THIS POINT IN THE THIRD PERIOD.
REFEREE FRANCIS CHARRON TELLS KESSEL TO LET GO OF HIS PANTS. OR, SO IT APPEARS.
FANS IN WEST END OF AIR CANADA CENTRE WATCH PLAY LATE IN THE GAME — ALL EXCEPT THE LADY IN A JOFFREY LUPUL JERSEY (BOTTOM–LEFT), WHO IS WATCHING ME.
LUPUL’S LATE THIRD–PERIOD GOAL PROVIDED THE FINAL MARGIN.
CAPITALS GOALIE JUSTIN PETERS STARTED AND ENDED THE GAME ON SATURDAY. NO. 1 STOPPER BRADEN HOLTBY PLAYED IN–BETWEEN… AND NOT PARTICULARLY WELL.
THE CLOVERLEAF PIN HANDED OUT IN MEMORY OF PAT QUINN.
FACEBOOK: HOWARD BERGER [HUMBER COLLEGE]
LINKEDIN: HOWARD BERGER [BROADCAST MEDIA]