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Whether we declare official death or not, the Leafs have taken strides for the future

Throughout Leafland, there is a mixed bag of emotions, I sense, ranging from flat out denial to defiant acceptance of the reality that the season is, for all intent and purposes- “finis”, as we would say en francais.

I declared the season over after the Red Wing loss on Saturday night, and I said that having been among the more hopeful, sympathetic Leaf voices for weeks, even when the playoffs looked, mathematically, anything but promising.

What I or other supporters think doesn’t matter, and none of this means the team, or fans, should or will 'mail in' the next few games.  In fact, I expect a big effort at the ACC Tuesday night against the Sabres, likely a victory.  It would be kind of a nudge to the Sabres that, while they may be advancing this spring, down the road the Leafs will be the better team.

And I believe they will be, though the Sabres are but one mountain they have to climb to get where the blue and white really want to go.  (I'll be posting in the days to come on how things "look" for the blue and white going forward.)

So while we lick our wounds, or live in dutiful hope that the season is still not “over” and the official death certificate has not yet been released, here are a few earlier posts to help pass the final few moments of what has felt like winter (surely spring is coming now) with some hockey thoughts:
  • a look back at Game 5 of the 1962 Chicago-Leaf Cup final series, when my going to Church seemed to help the Leafs win a big game
  • a vintage clip of an interview I did with a young Wayne Gretzky back in 1978 after he signed with the WHA
  • memories of Leaf great Dickie Duff
  • a chance "meeting" in a hotel lobby with four Boston Bruins, including Bobby Orr, back in 1966-'67
  • my post on Leaf coach Ron Wilson and his hockey-playing dad and uncle
  • how long-time Leaf owner Harold Ballard wrecked one of my favorite Leaf teams in the early 1970s
  • how Ovechkin has a lot of Bobby Hull in him
  • the Luongo playoff dilemma (which may perhaps rear its head again this spring, we'll see)
  • The night Ken Dryden's good luck helped the Habs win the Cup in 1971
  • how Brian Burke and Punch Imlach share some distinct similarities
  • the greatest late-season comeback by the Leafs in my lifetime (1959)
  • Brian Burke and the "I" in team
  • a look at how Phil Kessel reminds me a bit of ex-Hab great Yvan Cournoyer
  • and finally, a couple of posts on Grabovki, here and also, "Illusion or future difference-maker?"
I hope you enjoy some of the stories, while waiting for the Sabre match-up!  As always, I appreciate your posts here.

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  1. I never thought we were going to make the playoffs this year, but I do think something feels different about the current roster, and next year - with the addition of one or two key players up front - should get us into the top 8. We remind me of Chicago a few years back, when their young guys were starting to show signs of the good things to come. However, our recent games against the Hawks and the Wings also show how far we have to go to get into the that top 4.
    It may be "wait until next year" right now, but I, for one, actually feel excited about our possibilities in 2011-12.

  2. Long suffering Leaf fanMarch 29, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    It is not a matter of if or will the Leafs make the playoffs now. What is more important at this present moment is what kind of character is this team really made of? Will they make a statement tonight or will they go out with a whimper? If it is the latter then I dare say that Mr. Burke and company has their work cut out in the off season.

  3. Well, I think they are a bit improved. But they clearly need to get better offensively. Goal scorers are becoming harder and harder to find. Chicago is an example of how you can jump quickly ... if you get the right mix. I compare the Leafs to my local team here, the Wild. They are slowly going backwards. The Leafs seem to be going slowly forward.