Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Seven

It was over a month ago now, but the memory of the great collapse remains as fresh as ever in the minds of Toronto Maple Leafs fans. The Maple Leafs, of course, famously squandered a three-goal lead versus the Boston Bruins with ten minutes remaining in the third period of Game Seven. To be even more specific, they blew a two goal lead with under a minute and a half remaining in the game.

It was the type of sporting rarity that we’re unlikely to ever see again. The type of thing one doesn’t usually see in his or her lifetime. Hell, it’s the type of thing that may occur once in sixty lifetimes.

You can joke to your heart’s content about how the Leafs were this close to marching to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup since 1967. Leafs fans aren’t laughing.

I took it upon myself to solicit stories from Leafs fans on their experiences from Game Seven. Not even trolling, I swear. I received scores of responses via email, Twitter, and even conducted a couple of old fashioned face-to-face conversations. The responses I received were reflective, sad, bizzarre, incoherent, and sometimes hilarious. Some names have been changed (when requested). Here’s a thorough sampling for your reading pleasure/despair.

Joseph: Rangers or Capitals? That was the conversation I was having among friends and total strangers after Nazem Kadri scored. It was 4-1. We were legitimately debating who we had the best shot against in the second round. My local pub was overflowing with people and booze. People hugging people they didn’t know. The bartender looked at me and said the words “this is going to be great for business”.

Jerrod: Shots. It seemed like there were 100 shots lined up across the bar. That’s the last thing I remember before Nathan Horton made it 4-2. I think my boss paid for them. That was the atmosphere, though. Everyone was buying drinks for each other and exchanging high-fives. Panic hadn’t sunk in at that point, at least for my friends and myself. We were celebrating. We were celebrating far too early.

K: My friend and I accidentally gave a Budweiser shower to an 8 year old in the 300s. It was a $16 celebration

Evan: Three grown men jumping up and down in a Teletubbies hug (at 4-1). You can imagine the descent into hell from there.

Lawrence: I thought we had it all wrapped up and were off to the second round when Kadri scored. That was what, like five minutes into the third? Even after Boston made it 4-2, I thought we were off to the second round. I hugged my wife, and she went as far to suggest cracking an expensive bottle of Champagne we had been saving since our wedding.

P: (Email verbatim) Did Seguin or Hamilton score on us? No. Shut the fuck up then.

Joseph: I have never known a two goal lead to feel as safe as the one we had with a minute and half to go. Me, and others I’m sure, just ignored that the Leafs couldn’t get the puck out of their own end. I mean, c’mon, it was a fucking two goal lead. We couldn’t blow that, right? I can’t even think about what happened after he [Milan Lucic] made it 4-3.

P: (Email verbatim) Never mind last message I forgot about Tuukka Rask.

Marilyn: I didn’t know then, but I know now. We were done when Boston made it a one goal game.

Jerrod: I saw Phaneuf get knocked down and he just slid across the ice, like he didn’t have anything left. Can a team just be out-experienced? Is that a real thing?

Ethan: I grew up in Ontario as a Leafs fan my whole life. I moved down to Massachusetts for work about ten years ago. I had a few Leafs buddies come down for Game 7, even though I failed to get tickets. You can probably imagine the gloating on our part in a bar full of Bruins fans.

People will tell you that Bruins fans, or Boston sports fans, can be rough and say some awful things… they were pretty good to us even after the collapse. I suppose it’s possible that they just felt so awful for us. I still can’t make sense of what happened.

Stuart: Someone told me it was Carol’s fault when I was waiting in line to take a piss.

Jack: The Horton goal was too little too late. Lucic scores and it’s like “ok, they’re going down swinging”. Then Bergeron and it’s tied. You might as well have just given them the game right there.

Marilyn: I’m not one of those Toronto fans who has stewed over Kerry Fraser’s “missed” high stick in 1993, so this was the most devastating Maple Leafs playoff loss I’ve known in my lifetime.

Lawrence: It almost made me long for the days of fans plotting a completely unattainable playoff spot with a couple weeks to go in the season. I can only speak for myself, but I’d take missing the playoffs over what actually happened. Still sick from it.

Cathie: I was locked into the same emotionless state from the point when Lucic made it a one goal game right through Bergeron’s overtime winner. I don’t think there’s a movie or a book out there that’s put through the wave of feelings I experienced over the course of that game.

Rajit: I cried.

Nick: I was in Scottsdale for games 6 and 7, and watched game 7 from another hotel’s bar because they got NBCSN. A Czech/Dutch guy and his Dutch girlfriend were staying at my resort and came to watch the game with me. He wasn’t a Bruins fan but was a HUGE Jagr fan, maybe the biggest fan of a single player I’ve ever met.

He taunted me like crazy as I fell to pieces during the collapse, I had to sit there and listen as he talked about Jagr’s hometown and other Czechness about him. Double salt in the wound being tormented by a guy who didn’t even care about the team just one (awesome) player.

Oh and because the game took place at 4:00 PST I went to a family dinner with 14 aunts/uncles/cousins/my grandma blackout drunk from the rocks glass of tequila I ordered at the start of OT.

Jerrod: It’s not all bad. The Leafs were a good team this year, lucky I guess, but we have some really great talent and a number one goalie. It sucks going out like we did, but we’ll come back stronger.

Dylan: I swore I wouldn’t brood over this all summer. Would the Buds have beaten the Rangers? I don’t know, but I think the momentum coming out of a Game 7 in Boston would have been a big factor.

Randy: I’m half way through therapy. I am NOT starting it over…seriously… really.. damn.

Ryan: How bout this. Our boy Archer was born the morning of the game. My day: highest of highs to lowest of lows #emotionalmess… and now I get to remember it every day on his birthday. #justscorethereFrattin #lifeofaleafsfan

I think Joffrey Lupul speaks for everyone with a vested interest in the Toronto Maple Leafs…

 

Touché, Joffrey.

 

Comments (26)

  1. You guys talk about the Maple Leafs too much on this blog. Please stop.

  2. The game was (as you surely remember) a Monday. It wasn’t until the following Friday morning when my first waking thought of the day wasn’t, “How in the fuck did we lose that game?”

  3. Oh god. This has become such an f’ing “Toronto sports” thing. (FYI, I grew up in Toronto)

    They were the WORST TEAM OF THE 16 IN THE PLAYOFFS. They got lucky because Boston was asleep for half the series. They got unlucky because Boston woke up.

    Please, just get over it. Can anyone REALLY look at the hockey that has happened SINCE that point and say the Leafs deserved to be still in the playoffs? They were going to get killed in either the next round, or the round after it.

    Treat it like it was – a good experience for a bunch of kids. It doesn’t matter how they lost, they were going to lose eventually.

    • well, looking at the Penguins and Rangers efforts vs Boston i can say yes. yes they do.

      • Plus secret-weapon Gardiner, and Grabbo unleashed.

      • Boston could likely play 100 playoff series and not play as shitty as they did against the Leafs for 6 2/3 games. If the Leafs management thinks they are as close to a contender as so many of the delusional fans you better get used to making the playoffs every other year to lose in the first round. Half assed rebuild, shortened schedule and luck got you to the playoffs and you will never contend as currently constructed unless every team you face takes a massive Bruins sized dump. Wake up, Dion Phaneuf is your best defencemen and you have some of the worst prospects in the NHL. That is what happens when you make trades in which you give up multiple first round picks. I’m a NFL Raiders fan, we are shit, I know about these things. Pretending you are as good as the leagues elite is just setting yourself up for more “chewbaccah like noise(s)”.

        • Oh calm down. No one thinks the Leafs are a real Cup contender at this point. But, a team can get lucky and make the finals. The question was, “Can anyone REALLY look at the hockey that has happened SINCE that point and say the Leafs deserved to be still in the playoffs?” The Penguins scored TWO goals in a whole series, and the Rangers lost in 5, so his humourous answer (and you need a sense of humour, as a Leafs fan) was “yes. yes they do.” They’d probably have been swept by the ‘Hawks at this point, but meh. And there were a few playoff teams out there who probably wouldn’t have minded replacing their top D with Phaneuf.

          • My previous message, starting with “Oh calm down” was meant for Howedy.

          • You should probably just understand that the whole “we almost beat them and they easily beat that other team so that means…” is just biased justification of an unrealistic dream. I’m good and calm, patience is part of my skill set. All my fav sports franchises suck horribly. God you leaf fans are going to cling to “that one time you almost won a playoff series” forever.

          • You’re missing the whole “it was a joke” bit

    • Seriously, who cares if they were the “worst” playoff team? Because they finished with a fifth seed, which makes it seem like three other teams in their own conference were worse over the course of the year. And they were up three in the third, so the worst team was that close to an epic upset of a team tabbed at the beginning of the season as one of three or four legit Cup contenders this year. And fans aren’t supposed to be upset about this? Just “get over” a once-in-sixty-lifetimes gut-punch elimination loss? That’s like saying that a guy with a paper cut and a guy with a missing leg are both bleeding, so really, leg guy, stop bitching about it.

  4. With 4 minutes to go and the score 4-2, my girlfriend sent me a text saying, “Toronto looks like they might have this…”. I said, “Still quite possible for the Bruins to tie it. I’ll feel ok at 90 seconds [remaining].”

    90 seconds came and went, and I realized I didn’t feel any better. 10 seconds later, they scored to make it 4-3. When that happened, I knew we’d lost.

  5. My account:

    4-1 – cheers, kid pops out of his bedroom “who socred!?” LEAFS! “WOOOOOO!” /closes door back to bed

    4-2 – screams, kid pops out “who scored?” boston “don’t worry, they can’t win score that many goals” /closes door, back to bed

    4-3 – whimpering

    4-4 – silence

    Intermission – get blanket off bed, wrap self in blanket with only a small hole for my eyes

    5-4 Boston (OT) – as my wife says “chewbaccah like noise, and you fell off the couch”

  6. I was in Boston at saw the game 5 win live in person.
    I was still in Boston for game 6, and had perhaps the best Marriott lobby sports bar experience of my life with about 100 other Toronto fans, gathered there by chance.
    Flew out on Monday, my flight was delayed by an hour, and my flight happened to coincide with the game.
    Our pilot was keeping us updated as the Leafs scored.
    About 20 minutes before landing, the pilot came on and let us know the Leafs were up 4-1 – we all thought it was a done deal.
    Plane lands, he doesn’t say anything about the Leafs. At that point we all knew it was over.

  7. I’m a Canucks fan, so this is a report from the outside looking in.

    I was visiting Toronto on a trip for work. My Toronto based colleague (big Leafs fan but young and relatively new to the fan experience) and I were in a Toronto burb as part of this trip. We watched this game together in the hotel (me, bitterly, due to the recent Canucks sweep) and he was just ecstatic. And then the 3rd period. He grew increasingly more distraught as time went on and he could tell it was slipping away. Eventually he sort of lost it and started making expletive-filled video messages on his phone and sending them to family members.

    It was…interesting…

  8. I’m actually not surprised the Boston fans were cool. They lost game seven in three Worlds Series (’67, ’75, ’86), they lost the epic Game 6 of the 1986 Series, they have Bucky Freakin’ Dent, they had the too-many-men game against Montreal, the first-round wipeout as the #1 seed, the 3-0 games/3-0 lead in game 7 debacle against the Flyers… they’ve been gut-punched more than a carny who takes cannonballs to the stomach. They knew exactly how Torontoans must have felt. It’s cool to think that they can still remember those times after the past ten years of Boston sports and show some compassion and grace.

  9. This is going to be long, but here goes. I’m a Leafs fan who grew up in Toronto but is living in Montreal. I was coming back to Toronto for a week and a bit during this series. I booked my first bus ticket for the night after Game 3, and my return for the night after Game 6. I have a friend who is a Bruins fan in Montreal, and thought I would watch Game 7 with him, if it got that far.

    When I get to Toronto, I watch Game 4. Krejci scores in overtime, it’s 3-1, we’re fucked, and I’m looking at the schedule for the remainder of the series. And I realize, Game 7 IS the night after Game 6. I had booked a ticket for the wrong night. I think, fuck it, we don’t have a chance. Then I think, no way, I’m not going to miss Game 7 if it happens. I change my bus ticket, spend some more money (poor student), and watch the next two games with friends at bars in Toronto.

    Game 7, I watch at a friend’s house. My bus is for midnight that night. Kadri scores and everyone is saying “Well, that’s gotta be it.” Only me, sitting there, not sure. As soon as Lucic scored with 1:20 left, I felt like we were done.

    Going into OT, my friend goes, “well, think about it this way. At the start of this series, you would have preferred to play one OT, winner takes all, rather than a best of 7.” To be honest, I think I had given up at this point. Bergeron scores, I leave quietly, go home, get on an overnight bus back to Montreal. That overnight bus between Montreal/Toronto is regularly brutal, but this was easily the worst trip ever.

  10. Well everyone was figuring the Leafers were going to get hosed in the way Pittsburg did, so at least we put up a fight but god damn do I ever hate Boston now.

  11. As a selfish Blackhawks fan, I knew even in the beginning that the only team I didn’t want to face in the East was the Bruins, assuming we made it that far (knocked on wood).

    Thoughts during the game:
    2-1: Hey wouldn’t it be awesome if we both made it to the finals (crossing fingers and toes). Hawks-Leaf final like in days of yore.
    3-1: OMG this might actually happen. Leafs are going to knock out the scariest team! (salt over the shoulder)
    4-1: This is HAPPENING! I start texting Leafs friends coordinating possible schedules for a Hawks-Leafs final trip. (I have family in Toronto and Montreal, but oddly enough they’re all Sens fans).
    4-2: Hmm. Well, we weren’t expecting the Broons to lie down the rest of the way. Have to keep up the pressure.
    4-3: Seriously? What did I just say?! Clear the zone, clear the zone…
    4-4: YOU IDIOTS!!! You had it! You had it in your grubby little palms and you threw it away!
    4-5: Thanks for nuthin.

  12. I was at the bar with about ten people – four of whom left when it was 4-1, claiming that they were going to “beat the traffic.”

    There were two Bruins fans among us. When it was 4-2 they started taking bets with Leafs fans around the bar. “DOUBLE OR NOTHIN’ THAT BOSTON WINS,” they yelled to anyone who would listen. Quite a few people took them up on it over various things – beers, shots, a couple guys dropped $20, and one dude in a suit went in for $50.

    Amazingly only one guy welched on the bet [a "beer" guy], which surprised the hell out of me. So the remaining six of us ended up having a good chunk of our bar tab paid for, and they donated their shots to us so we could just start drowning our sorrows. It didn’t help – still just an absolutely terrible night. Ugh.

    This was not therapeutic at all. Eat shit.

  13. The weirdest thing about this was the people who were most sympathetic…were Boston fans. Some of them were dicks about it, obviously, but a surprising number of them said things along the lines of “It sucks. We know. 2010. You gave us a run.” But I have to thank the Penguins for the real consolation: providing me with an example of “It could be worse.”

    • “It could be worse”

      Not really. Toronto will be the butt of “4-1 leads are safe right?” jokes for eternity. This game will be shown in highlight packages and best(worst) of lists every season. It is an all-time meltdown of a game. Possibly never will be repeated.

  14. I was in Vegas when this happened, at the Hard Rock Hotel. NO bars in the hotel or in the area had the game on (Wtf Vegas?), nor was it on any of the cable TV channels the hotel had. I had to resort to twitter to find a stream of the game online – And it was such horrible quality that I couldn’t see the puck. I had to watch where the players were heading to figure out where the puck was!

    When Boston scored the winning goal I picked up that $2000 Asus laptop and threw it across the room with a shout of rage – luckily it landed on the bed!

    At least we gave Boston a hard run, in the end.

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