Thursday, August 21, 2008


Those Other Teams Pt. 4: Toronto

In the previous three parts, I went at length about Philadelphia, the Islanders, and Pittsburgh. But there are teams outside of the Atlantic Division. Teams with...varying reasons as to why you may dislike them heavily and want them to suffer in the league. But many of them just don't have enough. The entire Western Conference doesn't regularly play against New Jersey. The only team in the West I've seen Devils fans had a special kind of vitrol for is Anaheim, but that's not due to the Ducks but moreso for Scott Niedermayer signing there instead of with the Devils. Though, you could make an argument for 2003 and the ridiculous hype behind a team literally led by a very hot, very large-padded Jean-Sebastian Giguere. I'd disagree with that on the basis that not only did the Devils win their third Stanley Cup, they did it with Mike Rupp scoring with the ultimate clincher on Giguere. As far as Eastern teams go, well, there are a few that I think would justify some gnashing of the teeth and some extra glee upon seeing New Jersey triumph over them.

Today, let's talk about the Toronto Maple Leafs. One of the Original Six franchises, Toronto has had an interesting history throughout the ages. You can go to their official website and view it by the decade. Or better yet, just go straight to the 1960s as 1967 was the last time the team was truly successful. 1967. A time when generations of Leaf fans today not even thought of being conceived when someone in Toronto blue lifted up the greatest trophy in all of sports. A time when many thought their goaltender Johnny Bower was too old and was on his last legs at 42 - still helping the team the big one. A time before expansion - as the following season was the introduction of 6 new teams to the league. Since then, the team has ranged from pretty good to absolutely terrible - with few players of note that were known for being Leafs since then (e.g. Borje Salming, Darryl Sittler, I really have to type Wendell Clark's name?). They've had some great players pass through and most recently it seems like the most likely name to be honored out of this generation would be Mats Sundin. Regardless, the heyday of Leafs was clearly before 1967; and since then it has not been pretty.

How can a Devils fan hate this team? Easily:

I know it was a long time ago. I know one player doesn't represent the whole. I don't care. This squad employed a man nothing short of a pathetic excuse of a hockey player - an excuse in that he could play somewhat well when he's "feeling it," but even then he has to do something beyond stupid. The Devils got their just revenge in the series, as Domi was heavily suspended. Still, this hurt. A lot. I will go to my grave saying this horrific act cost the Devils a Stanley Cup in 2001. The Devils without Scott Niedermayer took Colorado to 7 games. You don't think a future Hall of Fame two-way defenseman in the prime of his career would have given the Devils that extra edge? Really? I definitely think they would. But we'll never know thanks to Tie Domi.

And from there, it behooves one to take a step back and consider the squad. A lack of success in the post season for a recent while followed by a more recent lack of success of making the post season? Poor drafting and/or poor development of prospects? A very, very rich team in spite of the fact they've been overall below .500 since 1967? Does this team remind you of anyone else? Maybe a certain team across the Hudson? Even just a little?

Considering all this, I think relishing a Devils win over Toronto a little more than some other wins becomes a little more understandable. At least, to me it does. If you have any additional reasons (or suggestions!), feel free to leave them in the comments.

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Nothing like a little Tie Domi to start your morning. I didn't even have to push play and my blood pressure went up. In total agreement with you about the Finals that year. Great post.
I always liked the Leafs, but they did become a very dirty team starting in the late 90s.
Thanks. In all honesty, I don't see the Leafs as a dirty team. Arrogant, delusional, good but not good enough (Pat Quinn-era)/not very good (post Pat Quinn-era), yes. But dirty? Outside of Domi, I don't think so. Maybe there's someone I'm missing?
tucker for one. Gill throws an elbow with the best of them too.
Id agree, outside the division (where the anger is mainly towards the Rangers and Flyers) the Leafs are right up with teams I can't stand and love to see lose. The Toronto media is especially annoying and a lot like the New York media for baseball ... they all want *insert great gm name here* so he's coming to Toronto to save the Leafs, its pretty pathetic (and I wont even ramble on about how Burke is completely overrated)
how about a few years ago when toronto just beat montreal in the last game of the season, but didn't make the playoffs because the devils lost to the islanders, who got the #8 seed?

lou took marty out after overtime and put clemmensen in for the shootout. the devils lost, and leafs fans were all pissed off and blamed us for missing the playoffs.

how about you just make it on your own and don't count on another team that's playing a game which is entirely meaningless to them?
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