Alright, if you haven't already, go read mf37's edition of the Leafs Essentials. It is very informative and displays a lot of proud and not-so-proud moments in Leafs history. However, the article does seem a bit depressing to me. Most people's arguments to that are that being a Leafs fan is depressing by nature. Well, with a lockout seemingly inevitable and the Leafs seemingly set up to disappoint again anyway, I'm sick of being depressed. So I'm writing this so you can remember some of the things that make you feel good to be a Leafs fan...and some of the things that made me feel good too.Disclaimer: I've got to go with stuff that I can remember here. I've never seen the Leafs win a Stanley Cup...it was a bit before my time. In fact, I was born in 1980...the Leafs weren't exactly great then. But that's what I've got to go with. Sure, that year they last won the Cup (when was it again?) was an essential moment, but I couldn't tell you much about it...
Player: Mats Sundin
13 seasons. Nearly 1000 points as a Leaf. His worst (non-lockout shortened) season was 72 points, so he was consistent as they come. Whenever the Leafs needed a goal, Mats was most likely to provide one...
Mats Sundin's overtime goal to beat the Senators - 2001 (via DownGoesBrown)
Sometimes, he'd provide many of them...
Mats Sundin's 6 point night. (4 goals, 2 primary assists) (via garbscarbs)
And he managed to score a pretty epic milestone goal as well...
mats sundin 500th goal (via danewithers1991)
Honourable Mention: Wendel Clark. A fan favourite back in the 80's and early 90's...a tough guy back when toughness was needed, and had a mean wrist shot that to this day I've only seen Phil Kessel able to duplicate. Who could forget his mustache. And...well, he got traded for Mats Sundin too...
This season put the Leafs back on the map after so much time in obscurity. A hard-fought first round series with the rising Red Wings finally resulted in a Leafs victory. Next was the Blues, and Doug Gilmour and Wendel Clark were magical in that series. Clark blasting a slapshot into Curtis Joseph's mask with the Leafs dominating Game 7 put an exclamation point on it as the Leafs moved on to the semi-finals.
Wendel Clark hits Curtis Joseph in the face with a slapshot - 1993 playoffs (via DownGoesBrown)
While unfortunately, that series will be remembered by what happened in Game 6 (and then Game 7 after that), the Leafs were still very good and probably should have won. See the goal that got them one game away from the Finals...
Glenn Anderson's OT goal to win 1993 playoff game against Kings (via DownGoesBrown)
Honourable Mention: 2001-02. The Islanders gave the Leafs a battle...at least on the Island they did. Then it was on to Ottawa, where the Senators decided to show a little more fight than they did in previous series...and got ahead 3-2 on a missed Daniel Alfredsson cheap shot and quick goal. But the Leafs showed their hearts in Game 6 and dominated Game 7 to move on to the Finals. It looked like they had run out of gas, especially in Game 6 of that series, until...
Joe Bowen calls Mats Sundin game tying goal against Carolina - May 28, 2002. (via Screwball270)
Goal: Nikolai Borschevsky's OT series winner in 1993 vs. Detroit
Leafs - Wings (1993): Borschevsky Wins It (via TheMadHockeyBlogger)
That goal helped pull the Leafs out of the darkness that was the 1980's. At last, there was hope. At last, the Leafs were a good team. (Sure, they made the playoffs in the 80s but it was hard to miss the playoffs back then.)
Honourable Mention: Mats Sundin PING! Game 1 OT winner in 2001 vs. Ottawa. That regular season, Ottawa had beaten the Leafs every single game, and they were heavily favoured coming into the series. Sweeps were forecast. Then, this happened...
Mats Sundin OT Goal Game 1 2001 Playoffs (via OvertimeWinners)
Well, there was a sweep in that series...just not the one people thought would happen.
Trade: Leafs acquire Doug Gilmour
The 1993 and 1994 playoff runs were the result of Cliff Fletcher's hard work, and a big part of that was the trade where the Leafs got Doug Gilmour, Jamie Macoun, Kent Manderville, Rick Wamsley and Ric Nattress from Calgary for Gary Leeman, Alex Godynyuk, Jeff Reese, Michel Petit and Craig Berube. The next time Calgary had a good playoff run after that was 2004. Meanwhile, Doug Gilmour went on to score goals like this:
1993 - Doug Gilmour Goal In Double Overtime. Game 1 - St Louis Vs Toronto (via xXxCrosby87Xx)
Honourable Mention: Leafs acquire Mats Sundin. At the time, fans were disappointed with losing Wendel Clark in the deal (don't worry, he came back!), but who knew we were getting a great player to play for us for 13 seasons?
Unsung Hero: Alyn McCauley
It's not easy to come up with an unsung hero in Toronto, as everyone is under the microscope all the time. However, back in the 2002 playoffs vs. Ottawa and early in the series vs. Carolina, Mats Sundin was injured, along with many significant players. Someone had to step up, and Alyn McCauley did, scoring key goals to keep the Leafs going. If it weren't for him...we'd have lost to Ottawa? As unthinkable as that sounds...
Maple Leafs vs Senators - 2002 Playoffs Game #4 (via xXwushuguyXx)
Franchise Villain: Kerry Fraser
How could it be anyone else? Everyone knows about the missed high stick call already. But, why didn't he make that call when he clearly saw it? Is he blind? Incompetent? Scared to eject Wayne Gretzky from the game on a 5 minute high stick call (would have been the call to make at the time)? Scared of having a Leafs vs. Habs final? Whatever the reason, it still appalls me that TSN gives us this guy to see what the referees see, 20 years later. You know you screwed up bad when you're still remembered that long after the fact...
(Dis)honourable mention: Harold Ballard. Speaking of screwing up bad...well, there's that guy. Running the Leafs into the ground for decades. Fortunately, he's dead and buried now. We think.
Fight: Felix Potvin vs. Ron Hextall
Yeah, you don't go and fight Felix Potvin. First, Wendel Clark or someone like that will probably fight you. But if he doesn't, Potvin can take care of himself too...
Potvin vs. Hextall Hockey Fight - Joe Bowen's Radio Call (via plenarius)
Wendel Clark vs. Marty McSorely (via arrbez)
Coach: Pat Quinn
Starting in 1998-99, the Leafs added Pat Quinn as their head coach, and while he was there the Leafs were always contenders until after the 2004-05 lockout. He loved his players, and he always had the answer for when the Sens thought they could do something in the playoffs. And of course, he coached Canada to an Olympic gold medal in 2002.
Honourable mention: Pat Burns. He coached the Leafs on their 1993 and 1994 playoff runs. Sorry we couldn't get you another Stanley Cup. R.I.P.
Broadcaster: Joe Bowen
This isn't even a contest. Joe Bowen's the best in the league as far as I'm concerned. He's developed a lot of catch phrases with the alliterative goalie names, "Holy Mackinaw!", "the puck took a ric...o...chet out of the rink", "to the line but NOT OUT" among other ones. But when he's doing the game, you're always into it and excited...or at least amused. I hope he gets to do another playoff! Even Joe knows he's good...
Joe Bowen Real Sports Xbox (via theRealHolyMackinaw)
Arena Behaviour: Visiting other teams' rinks
Now, everyone knows that the Air Canada Centre is so expensive to get in to. Too many corporate season ticket holders, prices through the roof, and waiting lists for season tickets longer than your kids' Christmas lists. So what do we do? We go on the road to see our team, and drown out whoever the home team is. Or, some of us who live out of town get to just wait until the Leafs come to town! And the visiting Leafs fans often end up louder than the AirCanada Centre ever gets. The other teams fans may complain about our presence, but no one cares about them anyway...
Arena Food: ???
I don't know, get a Burkie's hot dog or something if you're lucky enough to get into the ACC. On the road, whatever works!
Swag: Leafs third jersey, or the current Leafs jersey
When you're visiting another team's rink, always show your pride with a jersey. Any of the third jerseys work best, but if you can't get one, the current jersey isn't too shabby either.