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10 Favorite Maple Leaf playoff memories from 1955 to the present—Now send us yours

With the playoffs starting tonight and the Leafs not allowed to play again until October, we are reduced to “remembering when”. As in, remembering when the Leafs played meaningful games, when they won more and remembering some of the great playoffs games or series they were involved in.

Everyone has their own favorite memories and I encourage you to send a post on great playoff games that stand out for you.

For me, going back to the mid-to-late ‘50s when I was a kid, here are some of the fondest or most vivid recollections that I have:

1. The 1959 playoff march was remarkable, as the Leafs made the playoffs on the last night of the season by the smallest of margins. The 7-game semi-final against the then-good Bruins was outstanding, especially Game 7. But the best moment of the ’59 playoffs for Leaf fans was Game 3 of the finals in Toronto against Montreal. The underdog Leafs won it on an overtime goal by a young Dickie Duff. He beat Plante with a quick shot just as he crossed the Montreal blueline.  It was to be their only victory in the series.

2. In April of 1962, the Leafs were seeking their first Stanley Cup since 1951- the night of Bill Barilko’s famous OT winner. In Game 6 in Chicago, with the Leafs leading the series three games to two, the game was scoreless until the third period. Back-up goalie Don Simmons was stellar for Toronto. Then Bobby Hull scored and the Chicago crowd went wild. The game had to be delayed and when play resumed, Bob Nevin tied the score, then Duff scored the winner to give the Leafs the Cup.

3. In 1964 semi-finals, the Leafs faced Montreal in Game 7 at the Forum. Dave Keon hadn’t scored in six plauyoff games, but scored all three goals as the Leafs upset the Habs. Later that spring, Bobby Baun scored an OT winner against the Red Wings in Game 6 on his famous broken ankle, and the Leafs went back home and won Game 7 -and their third consecutive Cup

4. The entire 1967 playoff run was amazing. The Leafs got hammered in the first game of both series, but eliminated Chicago in six games before doing the same thing to Montreal. For me, the highlight was the Game 3 double-overtime win at the Gardens over Montreal, with Bob Pulford re-directing home the winner. Sawchuk had some bad games, but also was almost unbeatable at times. Johnny Bower, often overshadowed in people's memories by Sawchuk's efforts that spring, didn’t play a lot but had a huge win in the double-overtime game against the Canadiens.

5. In 1972, Jim Harrison scored an overtime goal in Game 2 of the quarter-final series against the Big Bad Bruins. I was shocked that Toronto won on the road in that building, and in overtime no less. Unfortunately, it was the only game they ended up winning in the series.

6. In 1976, Sittller scored five goals against Bernie Parent and the Flyers in Game 6 in Toronto. Sadly, the Leafs couldn’t contain the swarming Flyers in Game 7, and lost the series.

7. We all remember Game 7 of the Islander series in ’78. Lanny McDonald’s overtime wrister against Chico Resch was the last great memory most Leaf fans had until the early ‘90s.

8. I will say the Mike Allison overtime goal against the Red Wings (was that in ’88?) was a wonderful moment, though the Leafs couldn’t finish the deal after leading the series three games to one.

9. No Leaf fan will/can forget the semi-final series against the Kings in the spring of ’93. Most of us would agree that Clark’s Game 6 performance was one of the most exciting of the modern era. We still lament the Montreal-Toronto match-up that awaited- and never happened.

10. For me, another “modern-day” memory that stands out is the 2002 playoffs, when the Leafs were facing all kinds of issues. Injuries to key players, including Sundin, Quinn was hospitalized, yet the team made it all the way to Game 6 against Carolina in the semi-finals. 

There have certainly been many other Maple Leaf playoff highlights and memories. I’ve only shared a few.
I invite you to you to forward your recollections.

1 comment:

  1. The Allison goal against Detroit was in the 2nd round of the '87 playoffs. I remember I saw all four games in Detroit (we lived in Windsor) and one in Toronto and couldn't believe they could blowa 3-1 lead.

    What's really strange is I remember each of the 10 highlights you mention. Gawd, could I be that old?

    Sadly, after 40 years of unyielding loyalty, I am no longer a Leaf fan. We moved to Edmonton 15 years ago and when the Leafs signed Curtis Joseph from the Oilers in '99, I became a full-out Oilers fan.