Old-time hockey was very good for Leafs

JODY VANCE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 6:43 AM ET

Those who hate fighting in the NHL - look away now - you have been warned.

Tuesday's much-anticipated Leafs/Devils game was, in a word, vintage.

It could have been the '60s the way it unfolded; it could have been helmet-free, white rink board, black-and-white TV hockey.

The way they waited until their second shift. The way they dramatically and deliberately tossed their gloves aside and pushed up their sleeves. The way they put up their dukes -- ready to dance. The way they waived off the refs when typically they'd have stepped in.

This was vintage NHL justice; big brawny men bringing fans to their feet.

A scrap to settle a score.

It was one minute and thirty-five seconds no hockey fan will soon forget. Those 95 seconds brought an arena full of fans, and hundreds of thousands more standing in their living rooms, to their feet cheering on old-style hockey comeuppance.

Perhaps, most importantly, the team was sparked, played inspired hockey and got that vital victory that sees it back into the playoff picture.

Head doach Paul Maurice has been masterful in how he has kept his club focused on that prize - the playoffs and, ultimately, the Stanley Cup.

Maurice did it in Jersey after the Kaberle incident when he gathered the guys at the bench and said, "the way we get back at these guys is to win this game."

Only those present Tuesday can know exactly what was said between coach and players pre-game, but knowing Maurice as I do, I would guess it went something like this:

"I get that you want to take this guy to task -- I understand you want justice for Kabbie -- I won't forbid you from going after this goon, but if you do, you better damn well win this game."

Belak won the battle and the Toronto Maple Leafs won that war -- now let's see if they can get to "mission accomplished."


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