Tuesday, May 14, 2013

a tale of two game 7s

Click image for larger version of the front page of the May 2, 1993 edition of the Toronto Star.
I expected to run into honking cars galore.

Given last night was do-or-die time for the Maple Leafs, I figured there would be mass celebrations if they managed to survive the first round of the playoffs. In the checkout line at the Vic Park and Gerrard FreshCo, the customer ahead of me asked the clerk if she had heard any game updates. She had—it looked like the boys in blue were headed to victory.

Mentally noting that the game was almost over, I anticipated running into happy, honking fans spilling onto the streets. Drove west along Danforth. Nothing. Deciding I wanted to discover the result organically, the dial on my radio developed an allergy to hockey games.

The streets were still quiet when I reached home. No honking in the distance as there was when the Leafs won their first match in the series. Overtime, perhaps?

A quick glance at social media told me all I needed to know. It was going to be a silent night.

Front page photo, the Globe and Mail, May 3, 1993.
Twenty years ago, the Maple Leafs endured overtime during Game 7 of the opening round. The results were much happier for Toronto on May 1, 1993.

Two minutes and 35 seconds into OT, Nikolai Boreschevsky, who had been missing from action since suffering an eye injury in game one, scored, giving the Leafs a 4-3 victory over Original Six rival Detroit. As the Star’s Rosie DiManno put it in her usual colorful way, “call it a small miracle if you will, a little bit of seventh heaven that was lost and found in the hellpit of the Joe Louis Arena.”

Maple Leafs coach Pat Burns had a simpler reaction: “This is hockey.”

If the game was on TV, I probably watched it unless there was a really good flick on Saturday Night at the Movies. I have no memory of it, but suspect that given I was a diehard Red Wings fan, there wasn’t a smile on my face. The split of warring Maple Leafs and Red Wings jerseys at my suburban Windsor high school likely favoured the blue and white on Monday morning.

Tidbits from the newspaper coverage of that Leafs victory:

  • After feeling sluggish during Game 6, Doug Gilmour ate plenty of carbs the day before Game 7. “I ate all day,” he told the Star. “Pasta. Tons of it. I had a hamburger, too. I ate pasta at 1:30, a hamburger at 3, more pasta at 6 and some more at 11.” Columnist Bob McKenzie’s follow-up line? “But it wasn’t until he ate the Wings that he was able to satisfy the hunger.” It worked: in Game 7, Gilmour scored one goal and three assists.
  • The Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts felt the win was significant for that generation of Maple Leafs fans, as “Borschevsky’s goal cast off the mantle of darkness that descended on the franchise through the 1980s, through the madness of the Jabberwocky himself, the late Harold Ballard.”

The Maple Leafs proceeded to beat the St. Louis Blues in a seven-game Norris Division final. They succumbed to Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings in another seven-game battle in the Campbell Conference finals which included two matches that went into OT.

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