Custom Search

The Maple Leaf legacy in my lifetime: Part VI, the 2000s

If you're looking for more current Leaf talk and might be interested in stories you may have missed here, you can click on the following:

Most Leaf fans who visit this site were around and therefore are well aware of the ups and down of last decade in Leafland.  But given that part of my intention with this “series” was to provide a bit of a “primer” overview for new Leaf/hockey fans—or those who are simply interested in a modern-era perspective of the organization over the decades through one observer's eyes—I wanted to complete this effort by at least bringing us to the point where I started Vintage Leaf Memories, which was just prior to the 2009-’10 NHL season. 

When we left off Part V (the 1990s), the 1998-’99 season has just ended with a thud, but not before the Leafs surprised everyone in the hockey world by running and gunning all the way to the semi-finals, a five-game loss to Dominik Hasek (though Hasek missed game 1 of that series, I believe, due to injury) and the Sabres.

That had been Pat Quinn’s first year behind the bench and also Curtis Joseph’s first year in the Leaf net.  Together, they helped infuse confidence in a team that had sorely lacked it in recent seasons.  The team played to its strengths, rather than play in fear of losing.

The summer of ’99 saw a peculiar (never boring in Toronto, eh?) management situation evolve.  The ever ponderous Ken Dryden, still the President and nominal GM of the team, did not make the guy who was really making decisions, Mike Smith, the team’s General Manager.  So Smith left, meaning Dryden had no clue what to do next, basically.

He ended up asking Quinn to take over.  I recall that Quinn was reluctant, no doubt having seen the management irregularity that was in place at the time under Dryden, which had seen Smith, Dryden and, as I recall, Anders Hedberg (the former great Swede of Winnipeg Jets and New York Rangers fame) as the three-headed decision-making “think tank”.  Nice idea, very progressive and all that.  But it never works.  There always has to be someone ultimately responsible for making decisions.

In the end Quinn (left, a former Leaf, who played under Punch Imlach in the late 1960s) relented, taking a job he didn’t ask for—or seek.  So he was one of the only guys at the time doing the dual job of GM and coach, which he had in fact already done through different stretches in Vancouver, and successfully enough to take the Canucks to Game 7 in the 1994 finals against the Rangers.

After a surprising "final four" run the previous spring, 1999-2000 brought hope, though tempered by the knowledge that the roster really wasn’t a Cup contender just yet.  They had a nice season nonetheless, finishing first in their division with 100 points.  (That sounds like a lot, and it may be the most I recall the Leafs having in their history up to that point, but it didn't really mean a lot because of the “extra” point granted for overtime wins. On that note, I still wish we would go back to tie games, with no overtime in the regular-season…)

Sundin had a big season that year, and Jonas Hoglund—playing primarily with the big power center—benefitted, finishing with close to 30 goals, I believe.  Stevie Thomas, in his second incarnation with the blue and white (a player I wish had never left), had a solid season as well.

I was a big Sergei Berezin fan (always a sucker for skill, I guess, I loved Mirko Frycer in the ‘80s, too…), and while he wasn’t exactly a “go to the gritty areas” kind of forward, he helped us out.  Darcy Tucker came over during that season for Mike Johnson, a much edgier player than Johnson.  Tucker launched what became an eventful career in T.O., loved by many but loathed by almost as many others—and not just opponents and non-Leaf supporters.

At the beginning of that season, in the fall of ’99, little Stevie Sullivan was lost on waivers, and some Leaf fans are still unhappy about that.

In any event, they won only a single playoff round in the spring of 2000, not able to duplicate the magic of the previous season.  That was the spring we lost to the Devils in the quarter-finals in six games, and went out meekly, managing less than 10 shots or some awful number in game 6 against Martin  Brodeur, losing 3-0.

But you could see some good signs (aren’t there always?), with a blueline that included the smooth-skating Tomas Kaberle and two tough-as-nails defenders, Danny Markov and Dmitry Yushkevich.

2000-’01 saw the Leafs fall back significantly, finishing third in their division.  Yet one of the best trades Quinn made during his time as GM in Toronto was the acquisition of young Bryan McCabe for the veteran Alexander Karpotsev.  McCabe had been a second-round draft pick years before, but had already bounced around to several organizations.  In Toronto, despite being flawed defensively at times, as most defenseman are, he played the best hockey of his life, eventually becoming a one-time end-of-season NHL All-Star—an honor not too many Leafs can claim over the past 50 or so years. (If you look it up, I’ll bet there haven’t been ten guys who have accomplished this since the ‘60s…)

That was also the year that Gary Roberts signed to play in Toronto.  He, along with the usual suspects of the time, Sundin and Berezin (but also Yanic Perreault) provided a good chunk of the offense.

The Leafs made it to the second round again, but were downed by the Devils in  7 games.  That was the spring that the Leafs were looking good in the series, and played really solidly in Game 4 at the ACC.  Tie Domi played probably his best-ever game in a Leaf uniform.  Then, inexplicably and for no logical reason, he hit Scott Niedermayer in the dying seconds of the game when the New Jersey defenseman was nowhere near the play. (I thought it was more silly and reckless than dangerous, kind of a fly-by elbow...but in fairness, Niedermayer apparently suffered a concussion, so Domi must really have connected. I guess I just hated the Devils in those days...)

In any event, the whole fiasco, with league hearings and what should have been unnecessary media attention, didn't hep the Leafs' cause.  Though they won Game 5 on the road after the incident, they lost what should have been a winnable series in 7 games.

The good news was that the Leafs were adding some skill and grit along the way.  Roberts and Shayne Corson, a veteran winger who could play hard and block shots, provided some of the sandpaper.  Gary Valk and Tie Domi were useful role players.  Young Nik Antropov (a former first-round draft choice) played a bit that season until he was hurt (again), I seem to recall.  The veteran Dave Manson provided some toughness on the back end.  Glen Healy, everyone’s favorite modern-day TV analyst, was Cujo’s back-up in goal that year.

The subsequent 2001-’02 season marked, for me, a bit of a high-water mark for the franchise.  It was the best overall performance by the team since the fabulous 1992-’93 surprise season.  This one didn’t come out of nowhere, though, because Quinn had been assiduously adding pieces to the mix in an effort to contend for the Cup.

Before the season started, he traded Markov (I was sad to see him go; I know Quinn was, too, as he liked Markov a lot, I recall), Berezin and Korolev, all guys who had contributed nicely.

In came Renberg, Reichel and Travis Green.

During the regular season, the Leafs jumped back up to 100 points, but fell just below the Bruins in the standings.  Nonetheless, they beat the gritty Islanders in the first round (now that was a hard-hitting –dirty?—series).  The Leafs went on to beat Ottawa again (we were good at that in those days, at least in the springtime), which propelled us into the semi-finals against the Hurricanes.

Joseph was good but not always great in the Leaf net.  Sometimes he saved our bacon; at times he was inconsistent.  Overall though, he was pretty darn good.  But for what he was getting paid at the time, I was one of those who had pretty high expectations, truth be told. He wanted to be paid like the best goalie in the game, and I frankly therefore expected him to play that way even more often than he did. (I'm trying to remember if that was the season when Cujo lost it and went after a referee, and felt into the ref while trying to chance him down...That particular team was, as Cujo himself said at one time, a "pretty combustible bunch...")

Sundin (left) had been hurt earlier in the playoffs, and young centre Alyn McCauley played the best hockey of his Maple Leaf career, playing big minutes and displaying a fine all-around game in Sundin's absence.  In some ways we were actually worse after the big captain returned—not that you can blame Sundin for coming back early from his injury.  But if felt like some of the guys—who had stepped up their play in Sundin’s absence—went back to their previous (and lesser) roles.  Too bad, in a way.

During the Carolina series, the Leafs had some great moments, including a game where assistant coach Rick Ley had to take over behind the Leaf bench (because Quinn had been struck down by a potentially serious heart issue.) Quinn  was, however, back and behind the bench for Game 6, when Sundin scored with seconds remaining to give the Leafs life, and send the game at the ACC into overtime.  It was heart-stopping stuff.

My instincts at the time suggested that, if we could just win this one, we could definitely win Game 7 on the road, as the Leafs had played well by and large in Carolina during the series to that point.  So much for instincts.  (If I’m not mistaken, Carolina had the home ice advantage in the series because of the ridiculous rule that says the winners of the lousy Southeast conference get playoff seeding priority, even if they have fewer regular-season points than the team they are facing.  That’s still a joke that needs to be corrected, at least after the first round is completed…)

In any event, all I choose to remember from what happened next was that our ultra-talented if often uninspired friend, winger Alex Mogilny, sent the puck behind behind his own net from the side boards, instead of clearing the zone.  Carolina retrieved the puck and it was in our net before you could say, “wait ‘till next year….”

Afterwards, the ever-calm winger, never one to heap blame on himself, said (to the media) something along the lines of “well, what did you want me to do with the puck?  I had to put it somewhere”.  My thought was, preferably to one of our guys, or outside the blueline, but, oh well, in that moment went the hopes and dreams of a shot at the Red Wings in the 2002 Stanley Cup finals.

In fairness, Mogilny did some wonderful things for the club that season, and we had enough other flaws in our game at times that there was enough “blame” to go around.  But it had been a really good season.  It was by no means a superstar line-up, but Tucker, Corson, Domi, Roberts (who sometimes hit guys so hard I thought he would take the boards out…) all pulled their weight, and we got nice contributions from the versatile Paul Healy, Wade Belak and defensemen Lumme, Cory Cross and Karel Pilar.

It was a fun season, one that ended about two weeks two season. (Which was much better than the usual two months too soon we've had lately…)

In 2002-’03 the Ottawa Senators had their huge regular season and killed the Leafs most nights when they played.  The Leafs did fine otherwise, finishing second in their division, but the Senators were a very strong team.  They were the beneficiary of many, many years of being awful.  They had a truck load of top draft picks beginning to emerge.

The Leafs had traded the gritty Yushkevich away, another heart and soul guy I loved.  But they still had McCabe, Kaberle, Lumme, Berg and the newly acquired vet Robert Svehla, who contributed on the back end with almost 40 assists.

Unfortunately, we met the wrong team in the playoffs.  The Leafs dropped a physically demanding 7-game series to the Flyers, who had little left in their tank themselves after outlasting the Leafs.

Unfortunately, Larry Tanenbaum (Steve Stavro was gone from the scene, sadly), Richard Peddie (he’s finally gone now, right?) and the brain trust at MLSE, such as it was, decided they needed to bring in a new General Manager in the summer of 2003.  Being in the running for the Cup every year and all that extra revenue generated was insufficient, evidently.  John Ferguson Jr. was picked ahead of some other candidates.  Not to heap everything on Ferguson, but that began the decline we are seeing to this day.

Since Ferguson only took over in August that summer of '03, in 2003-’04, fortunately,  most of Quinn’s team was still around and they had a nice season again, finishing with 103 points in the regular season, just one behind the Bruins.  Eddie Belfour replaced Curtis Joseph. Cujo should never have left for Detroit as a free-agent.  Terrible decision, and many of us felt so at the time.  I sense ego made him go.  He was beloved in Toronto.  Besides ego, he was ticked that Quinn had gone with Brodeur instead of himself (Joseph) at the 2002 Olympics and seemed to carry that disappointment with him.  Ironically, Joseph was happy to come back here as a back-up years later, but should never have gone in the first place.

Of note, Owen Nolan had been acquired at the deadline the season prior (he played well down the stretch in ‘03, but I believe he was hurting come playoff time and didn’t produce offensively in the playoffs).  In the 2003-’04 season, he played OK when healthy, though he wasn’t able to suit up in the playoffs that spring, which was really unfortunate.

(A historical note: to be clear, in my view, the move to acquire Nolan was a good one, despite the years of lamentation that have continued in Leafland since the deal was made.  Even Burke has raised it, a not-so-subtle dig at Quinn, the guy who gave him his first job as a hockey executive.  (Burke has said, "I'm not the guy who traded for Owen Nolan...")  In Quinn's time, the Leafs were trying to win a Cup.  A Cup- not just squeak into the playoffs.  There is, for me, a huge difference between that and the notion of selling “the future” just to get into the playoffs.  The Leafs never did that during Quinn's time.  Truth is, if Nolan had stayed healthy, as he was when he first arrived here, he could have been a major impact player for the Leafs.  He had helped to win big playoff series' with the Sharks because of his sheer determination and drive.  The “big name” prospect we gave up was Brad Boyes, who yes, has had a nice year or two, but has also played with, what is it, about 5 different NHL teams….from my perspective, we can give the whole.."we gave away the future..." stuff a rest.)

In the spring of '04, Ferguson also acquired Brian Leetch and the aging, if once outstanding, Ron Francis at the deadline. (Again, people made a fuss at the time, but we really did not give up a lot, in retrospect, for a shot at going well into the playoffs...) Joe Nieuwendyk, in his only season with the Leafs, was a nice addition when healthy. Even though we took out the Senators yet again (four times in five seasons, I think it was) we were a couple of pieces short against the very good Flyers team in Round two.  We outplayed them in the two games at the ACC, but lost in OT in Game 6 at home (Roenick with the goal, as I recall—that hurt) and it was suddenly over—again.

And so were the Leaf fortunes.

We of course lost the subsequent season in its entirety due to the labor dispute (blame both sides…greed never dies, eh…) and by the time the 2005-’06 season rolled around, the Leafs were a shell of what they had been.  They were woefully unprepared in terms of personnel, the cap, and for the speedier, more flowing game that now included the much celebrated (and still awful) shoot-out.

To be clear, Quinn had always preached, and wanted, his teams to play an aggressive offensive style, while still maintaining a commitment to two–way play.  But unfortunately, the 2005-’06 Ferguson team was a mishmash roster.  Ferguson’s big free-agent signings were Jason Allison, the smart but slow-footed center and Eric Lindros, finally acquired by the Leafs—but about half a dozen years too late.  At times, Allison could not keep pace with the fast, new NHL game, though he did put up points, as he certainly could, before he hurt himself in a fight and missed the last 20 or so games of the season.  Lindros gave what he had, but more wrist woes took him out, as well.

Alex Steen and Kyle Wellwood, Quinn draft choices - along with Alex Ponikarovsky, who had 20+ goals- stepped up and had decent seasons.  Veteran winger Jeff O’Neil scored almost 20 goals.  Tie Domi was still around but, in truth, well past his best-before date.  Chad Kilger played the best hockey of his life under Quinn, but all in all it wasn’t enough.  Clark Wilm was a role player who gave everything he had, but the roster was either too old, too slow, too hurt, or too un-prepared for the “new” NHL.

Ferguson had brought in Paul Maurice to coach the Marlies that season, an obvious indication he wanted to bring in “his own guy” to coach the Leafs.  When he left Quinn with a mediocre roster that season, the die was cast.  Quinn was fired after the season, replaced, of course, by the popular Maurice…who the local media loved because he was congenial, humorous and a good quote.

However, his actual work behind the bench suffered as he, too, had to deal with a cobbled together roster that had no discernable identity in 2006-’07 and 2007-’08.

Andrew Raycroft was acquired for former first-round pick Tuukka Rask to play goal.  Hal Gill, Pavel Kubina and Ian White (White had been drafted by Quinn) were key defensemen long with Kaberle in Maurice’s first season.  Bates Battaglia (who had played well for Maurice in Carolina), John Pohl and Kilger did their part, but it wasn’t nearly enough, really.

We missed the playoffs both seasons, and when Ferguson was replaced by Cliff Fletcher before the end of the ’07-’08 season, Cliff tried to move out Sundin.  The captain wanted to stay and complete his time in Toronto.  This of course was one of the great debates at the time in Leafworld.  Should Sundin have allowed the Leafs to trade him so they could acquire assets?

I’ve never quite understood that point of view.  In an age where most players always want to “go to a winner” and get out of Dodge at the first sign of trouble (rather than be a real leader and choose to stay and help make things better), Sundin actually wanted to stay here and play for the Leafs.

Here was a guy who had helped lead Sweden to Gold at the ’06 Olympics, had been our premier player for like 13 seasons, but our best idea was to get rid of him, as though the player you plan to trade away is supposed to, somehow, want to save the organization that wants him gone?  Odd.

In any event, it was all hiding the reality that the team stunk.  It's not that guys weren’t playing hard for Maurice, a good coach, or that Ferguson wasn’t trying to improve the team.  He obviously was.  But too many moves (like acquiring Toskala to be a difference-maker in goal for the ’07-’08 season, signing Jason Blake to a big-money free-agent deal) just didn’t work out.

Fletcher hired a new coach in Ron Wilson, who had just been fired in San Jose after several good regular-seasons but too many early playoff exits with a really good roster.

With Sundin gone, Blake, to his credit, stepped up and led the team in scoring in Wilson’s first year behind the bench.  Fletcher had acquired Mikhail Grabovski from the Habs and Grabbo scored 20 goals that season.  Nik Hagman netted about that many, too, and Stajan (another Quinn draft choice) stepped up with 55 points as a versatile young center.  Ian White was good on the back end, playing hard, and Luke Schenn started his NHL career as a teenager.  Jeff Finger was signed as a free-agent and young winger Nik Kulemin started to show something.  Antropov was still around and scored 21 goals though he finished the year a  minus 13.

Fletcher, while still in charge, sent away Steen and young Carlo Colaiacovo (both Quinn draft selections) because Wilson thought they were part of the "entitlement" group and weren’t working hard enough.  ( did that trade work out for the Leafs?)

Meanwhile the biggest news of course was the hiring of Brian Burke to the position of GM and President of the Leafs in November, 2008. (Naturally, one of Burke’s first moves was acquiring Brady May, a former player of his with Anaheim and Vancouver.  No disrespect to May, but I can’t forget May being with the Canucks and his public comments before the Bertuzzi attack on Steve Moore, while Burke was GM in Vancouver.  Somebody had to put a stop to that "retaliation" before it happened.  That wasn’t hockey.  That was, in my eyes, a tragic act that the Canucks allowed to happen.  They were “enablers”, in my view….)

Burke traded Antropov, not surprisingly, he also of the dreaded entitlement era and the awful (at least supposed)  “blue and white disease”.  (I wonder if Burke feels quite so smug now about all that entitlement talk?)

Burke started to sign college free-agents, dipping into that pool and grabbing Tyler Bozak and Christian Hanson.  Bozak, of course, is still here, a nice player with some upside, it seems.

In any event, Leaf fans know that we missed the playoffs again in the spring of ’09, no fault of Burke’s.  He was still getting his feet on the ground here.

After the new GM’s arrival, we kept hearing how we would be tougher and better.  Burke indeed continued to shift the pieces in the summer of ’09,  and that’s where the Vintage Leaf Memories blog began—in September of 2009.

Since then, my thoughts, views and Maple Leaf memories of times past and present have been carved out here.  That’s a lot of stories, over two and a half years.  We can look back on that time, with Burke now on the job for three and a half seasons (three drafts, three summer free-agency periods and four trade deadlines) and say the team is better, without question.  It is faster, more skilled, with more potential than at anytime in perhaps close to a decade—and younger than those very good Pat Quinn Leaf teams.

And now, Randy Carlyle is here.  He will identify clear roles for players, and insist on a more defensively responsible approach to playing the game.

The question is, in part, how much farther along are we, in terms of being a legitimate contender?  The Eastern Conference is now in a period of decline (that can change, of course) so opportunities for quick improvement should be in place.  Are we grittier?  Do we have team toughness?  Will we be able to build on this group and make the necessary roster adjustments?  If all these young players are as good as we keep being told, will the Leafs be able to re-sign them all in a cap era?

Only time, as always, will tell. Some other chronicler, looking back fifty-some years from now, will perhaps pen his or her own personal thoughts and memories (via whatever public forum is available at the time), and let a new generation of new, young Maple Leaf fans know exactly what, in his or her own view, happened in the years that are ahead us know- but will be in the rear-view mirror then.

As for me, I hope that a few of you have enjoyed this six-part series.  Thanks for taking the time to visit.


  1. Thanks Michael. I certainly enjoyed your series. Too bad it's over! As a younger fan, I particularly liked the '50s-'70s, as there was a lot of new information for me there. Shame that the last 3 of your series were more on the 'depressing' side.

    Funny how coaching/front-office turmoil of some kind seems to typify this organization. I'm beginning to wonder if the impending change of ownership with Rogers/Bell will see more turmoil or if they will be hands-off..?

    As for your last few questions, it's hard to say if we are better off than at the end of the '90s. We are definitely far from a "legitimate contender" ... you can't contend for the cup when you are barely able to contend for that final playoff spot, right? We're certainly not grittier, and we do lack team toughness. But we are more skilful and far speedier. I'd like to say better coached, but it's just been one game! I still stand by my conviction that the young Leafs must make the playoffs this year so they can be better prepared for next year. Here's hoping!

    Thanks again for the great, insightful, reading.


  2. Caedmon, thank you for the kind words.

    Yes, the late '50s were a special time for Leaf fans, especially, I guess, for those like myself who were young and were, in a sense, "growing" with the team. The success they earned in the '60s was wonderful, of course- a memory for a lifetime.

    It's not possible to fully or accurately gauge just ow much of a negative impact the ownership issue has had since Ballard took over more than 40 years ago. But it's hard to imagine ownership will be any better now, with another "faceless" corporate combination soon to be in place. Peddie was the face of the most recent ownership group, and involved in too many decisions,and that by and large did not go well - unless you care about the money MLSE took in through its various ventures.

    But that element aside, Burke is clearly building a better roster now. A new coach, and well, it should be fun to be a Leaf fan again, as it was a decade ago, and at various times throughout the past 40 years.

    As I posted a while back, the Leafs haven't always been lousy since 1967!

    Thanks Caedmon.

  3. Ah, Danny Markov and Dmitri Yushkevich! Two of my favorite Leafs. We definitely lost that feisty edge when they left. Kaberle and McCabe were sublime for a while, a classic combination. Too bad the rules changed and the "can opener" became illegal.
    And you mentioned two of my most disappointing moments from those years - Domi's ridiculous hit on Niedermyer, and Mogilny's blind back pass , behind his own net, as I recall, right to a Hurricanes player. That was a year we should have been in the finals. (O'Malley's 3 signs you'll lose the game: no-look back passes, cross ice passes in your own zone, and working the puck deeper into your own zone).
    Sundin said he stayed with the team because he thought they had a chance. I liked that, even if it did make things tough for us. Many nights this year, I wish he'd lace 'em up again.
    And here's a question: how many teams that are corporately owned have won any major league championship?

  4. Good question on corporate ownership, Gerund O'. Of the top of my head, I don't know the answer. But most Super Bowl, baseball and Stanley Cup celebrations seem to include a "face", an individual owner that fans can relate to (for better or worse) at the end of the day. Maybe I'm wrong.

    Thanks for posting on the last piece of the series! (I loved Markov and Yushkie, too...)

  5. Hey Michael good to look back at the past and compare it to today. I always felt that Pat Quinn got a raw deal from MLSE and Ferguson, he was and is a great hockey man who should have stayed as the GM. Which brings me to Burke and his legacy so far. Looking back I feel that he has been too outspoken and would have been better served by just going about quietly doing his job. There are so many contradictions in his pronouncements, such as his "truculent" tirade and the whole "blue and white disease". The team is younger and more skilled so we have to give him that. I didn't like the way they have handled Luke Shenn,he should never had played for the Leafs at 18,another Bob Mcgill episode. The year of the Tavares draft he comes right out and proclaims how he is going after the number 1 pick,why not just do it quietly,he might of had more success. I doubt the Islanders were going to give it up after Burkes public pronouncements! The past trade deadline with the coddling of the players and the "pressure" of the deadline. And then the HNIC interview where all the teams with Ontario boys play extra harder against the Leafs but we don't have any,if we did would they play harder for the Leafs? Personally I don't care where they come from as long as they can play but Burke can't use it for an excuse. It is time now for Burke to go about building the Leafs quietly and no more excuses! Actions speak louder than words,thanks for the blog and being able to rant a little here.

  6. Thanks for your comment on the series, Derek.

    Few would question Burke's capabilities as a hockey guy. There are many good ones and he is among the group of capable ones.

    That said, I agree with your above assertions. Everyone has their own personality and that's fine. But there have been, as you cite, too many instances of backtracking and unnecessarily bold statements that have rarely been helpful to the team- which is supposed to be the most important thing.

    As I've said here before, for Burke, there are a lot of "I's" in team.

  7. Michael the whole series was a great trip down memory lane for me. Thanks for doing this. Some of the names from the past bring back great memories! And I liked Danny Markov and Dimitri Yushkevich too.

  8. Glad that you enjoyed the series, Ed. Thank you.

  9. An excellent primer for the archives... thanks for refreshing my own memories with this series!

    When you mentioned Quinn's heart troubles, I was reminded of the problems that Karel Pilar experienced as well... always liked the young defenseman. Your mention of Renberg reminded me of his infection scare, where doctors were seriously considering amputating his hand at one point... that report really got to me at the time - I really felt deep concern for his situation and was thankful that he finally recovered.

    You sure have 'dug out' a wealth of memories for me!

  10. Thanks for that, InTimeFor62. I appreciate that you took the time to read the series.

    The Quinn era brought so much passion and yes, the injuries and health issues you mention. In addition to those that you cite (and I thought Pilar was a good player, too), I seem to recall that Yushkevich also had serious blood clot issues. There was Berard's major eye injury. Yet they always pushed through in the classic "next man up" philosophy.

    No Cup, but some wonderful years and great memories.