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Episode 26 of “The Maple Leaf Hangout” with TSN’s Conor McKenna

There aren’t a lot of things more fun in the sports world (at least for Leaf fans, young or old) than a Toronto-Montreal matchup.

My own memories in this regard go back a pretty long ways. I well remember seeing Jacques Plante in goal playing for the hated Habs (and in my mind, they were truly hated) dating back to the late 1950s and early 1960s.  He and his teammates crushed the blue and white in the finals in 1959 and 1960. That's Plante in his late 1950s pre-mask days in action with Montreal at right, with defenseman Bob Turner (if I'm not mistaken) next to him and Donnie Marshall in the photo as well.

I finally had my young Leaf fan’s revenge when the Leafs ousted the rival Habitants in 5 games in the semi-finals in the spring of 1963—on their way to a second consecutive Stanley Cup.

For my money, that 1962-’63 Leaf squad under Punch Imlach is the best all-around Maple Leaf team I have ever seen. They finished first overall in the regular season (they haven’t done that since) and it only took them ten games to oust Montreal and Detroit to win the Championship.

As much as I love talking about the old days, the focus of the latest “Maple Leaf Hangout” episode with my colleagues from The Maple Leaf Hot Stove is a little more current.  We chat about the current Leafs and Habs, tonight’s game and a possible playoff match-up. 

Our guest is Conor McKenna from TSN Radio in Montreal, who has been covering the Habs for many years.  He handles pre and post-game shows on TSN and also hosts a program on Sirius XM radio.

I hope you enjoy Episode 26.


  1. Hi Michael.

    Thanks for another Hangout--I missed it before the game and watched it after, then some of the repeat of the game.

    I think this was a game we all needed to sleep on.

    Losing such an important game is very upsetting. It's worse when the Leafs played well and a little luck would have made the difference--Two rung off the posts by Gardiner and Rielly that go in instead.

    The saddest part of it for me is losing the "old" Reimer who was capable of shutting the door in the third and never give up the fight. The thing I've always loved about Reimer is the battle, the competitive spirit which was his best quality and it has been missing. He truly seems to have given up on himself.

    I often wonder who decides what position a player should play during their junior years. Gardiner played forward when he was younger. Is it simply a matter of what position is available on a given team? His instincts are purely offensive so why is he trying to play defense. There were times during this game when he spent far too much time deep in the O-zone for too long and was the last Leaf leaving it. Other than that, he was flying.

    Phaneuf still seems off to me. I thought Bolland did what he could to be involved in the game. Kessel, Raymond, Lupul and Kadri played really well. Kessel wanted to win this game badly and the move on Suban that left the latter sitting on his back-side was both entertaining and incredibly satisfying.

    I know we will have a discussion about Clarkson at some point. He has come to the Leafs after playing his whole career on a team where everyone has a specific role, a strong defense first team where everyone is in correct position. The Leafs don't play that way. If he's often confused about where he should be himself I understand it. I doubt he's ever seen both Dmen deep in the offensive zone at the same time. I'm not at all sure he will ever be a good fit, even playing with Bolland, though he's I know he's trying. I'm more concerned about his ability to contribute than his pay cheque. I hope he can find a way, and a role with more impact than team enforcer.

    A stronger game from James with a crucial win against the Devils is needed. The result of this game may decide on what note this season ends. C.N.

  2. I think your comments on Clarkson are on the money, C.N.- and this has to be oh so different for him after Jersey!

    As for Reimer- in my mind it's not that he has given up on himself. His spirits are down because so many others have given up on him, and stopped believing in him months ago. That usually leads to bad outcomes, despite his still giving his best.

    Phaneuf is likely very tired at this point. Lots of minutes over many years, playing against the other team's best. Not an excuse, just what it is. He's a guy doing what he can. Thanks Colleen!