Great Obscure Moments in Leafs History - An ongoing series to honor the greatest, completely meaningless moments in Toronto Maple Leaf history.
By the time the second round of the 1994 playoffs rolled around, the Leafs had seen their last four playoff series end in the following ways:
- A stunning game seven victory in overtime on the road against a heavy favorite, with the winning goal scored by a Russian child.
- A game seven blowout at home that was so one-sided that they got bored with scoring on the other team's goalie and tried to kill him instead.
- A one-goal game seven home loss that was so soul-scarring that I still can't talk about to this day.
- A 1-0 road victory that permanently silenced the loudest building in the NHL.
What's that, Sylvain Lefebvre? You say you have an idea?
Hm, OK. Yes, that's a new one.
If you missed it, that's Leafs defenceman Lefebvre deciding, for some reason, to fire off a 200-foot wrist shot as time expires. But instead of floating down the ice, his shot drills innocent bystander Peter Zezel point blank in the chest. The puck bounces past a confused Felix Potvin and into the Leafs' net.
The goal was ultimately meaningless, since the Leafs had a 4-1 lead at the time. But it still results in the most muted game seven victory celebration in the history of sport, with all six Leafs on the ice standing around and staring at each in confusion. (Years later, Paul Maurice would install this as the team's official defensive system.)
Here are a half dozen things I love about this play.
Felix Potvin's reaction
Watch as Potvin turns around to stare at Lefebvre, then goes into his post-game crossbar tapping routine, then stops and turns to Lefebvre again.
I would love to know what was said here. I'm guessing it was something along the lines of "qu'est que c'est the hell was that, tabernac?" I think Potvin briefly considered going Hextall on him.
The Sharks' celebration
Nice work by the one Shark in the middle of the screen (who may or may not be Jeff Norton) who does the exaggerated stick-in-the-air celebration. Even though his season is officially over, he's going to passive-aggressively milk this late goal for all it's worth. Life is all about savoring the small victories.
In hindsight, of course, he was right. This goal is the best thing that's ever happened to the San Jose Sharks in the playoffs.
There wasn't any. Nobody even remembers that this play happened.
But while we're on the topic, here's a question: when you think of a recent example of a defenceman scoring into his own net, who do you think of?
It's Bryan McCabe, isn't it?
Why? How did this become the gold standard for NHL own goals? I know McCabe was a whiny stiff by the end of his time in Toronto, but he scored his goal during a mad goalmouth scramble at the end of a meaningless regular season game that the Leafs were going to lose in a shootout anyways.
Meanwhile, Chris Phillips scored the Stanley Cup winning goal into his own net while the other team was changing lines, and nobody ever mentions it. Doesn't that belong up there with Bill Buckner and Scott Norwood?
And yet McCabe's play follows him for life, and Phillips never hears another word of it. Is it because McCabe once had a funny haircut? We're all OK with this? I mean, just let me know and I'll play along...
The gambling implications
I don't know what the spread or over-under on the game was. But you know that somebody, somewhere, lost a lot of money on this play. I'm sure they laugh about it now, though. They'd probably give this whole post a big thumbs up. You know, if they had any thumbs left.
The highlight of the video is the frenzied reaction of linesman Kevin Collins, who storms onto the scene, waving his arms and demanding that everyone pay attention to him.
Veteran ref Terry Gregson seems ready to let the whole thing go, but not Collins. He's going to make sure the goal counts, dammit. Watch his reaction at 0:25 when the horn blows, and he starts shrieking "NO!" like the hero in an 80's action movie who just saw his child gunned down.
Now it would be easy to make fun of Collins here, since he's acting like the smarmy grade school kid who reminds the teacher that they forgot to assign any homework. But he's right. A goal is a goal, and this one needs to count.
After all, you can't ignore the rules just because you're in the late stages of a crucial playoff game, right Kevin? You have to be able to make the tough call against the home team. The rules are the rules, and you can't just take the easy way out and pretend you didn't see what was right in front of you.
(Breathes deeply into a paper bag.)
Now I'm angry. I need to see something completely ridiculous to make me feel better about my life.
Damian Rhodes' hair
Yep, that'll do it.
Hey, looks like somebody's been using his Head and Shoulders!