J.R. shoots down Leafs in overtime

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 2:06 PM ET


 For Pat Quinn, this one may have hurt the most.

 As Jeremy Roenick's goal at 7:39 of overtime drilled a dagger into the hearts of Quinn and his Maple Leafs, the beleaguered coach stood silently behind the Toronto bench watching a city's never-ending Stanley Cup aspirations evaporate.

 For the 37th consecutive time -- the past six under Quinn's watch -- the Leafs credo is "wait until next year."

 And like those fans who follow his team's every shift, he lived the pain that goes hand-in-hand with those words.

 Impervious to the speculation about his future, which surfaced the moment Roenick's snap shot whizzed by Ed Belfour's catching glove, Quinn could only wonder about what might have been.

 "I can't speak for everybody but I guess you have hopes and dreams," he said in the wake of his team's season-ending 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. "I kind of envisioned this team as being one that maybe had a little destiny to it.

 "I was convinced (of that) right through this series and even the last series (versus Ottawa), although it was a scary one too. But I was convinced we were going to find a way or make a way to advance."

 FATE OF COACH

 As was rookie general manager John Ferguson, who refused to address the fate of his coach or any other issue until tomorrow.

 But the facts cannot be denied. For another year, the Leafs must spend a summer coming to grips with the realization that one of the NHL's most storied franchises has not won a Cup since 1967.

 In the wake of their humiliating 6-1 loss in Game 7 of their first-round series against the Flyers a year ago, the organization vowed to make amends.

 In came Ferguson, one of the brightest young minds in the game, to take over Quinn's general manager's portfolio.

 In came new faces such as Joe Nieuwendyk, Brian Leetch, Ken Klee, Ron Francis, Chad Kilger and Bryan Marchment, players supposedly primed for post-season success.

 FLYERS SIMPLY BETTER

 Instead, the Leafs were dumped in six games by a Flyers team that simply was better.

 Whether it be Alex Mogilny's reconstructed hip, Owen Nolan's injured knee, Nieuwendyk's wonky back or Mats Sundin's ailing left leg, the Leafs had legitimate reasons to excuse coming up short. But they refused to use them.

 "Who gives a s--t about that stuff," said Mogilny, who said the hip would not keep him from returning next season. "This is no time for excuses."

 The Leafs appeared to be dead in the water after first-period goals by Radovan Somik and Roenick gave the Flyers a 2-0 cushion.

 But with boos beginning to cascade throughout the Air Canada Centre, goals in the final 10:56 of regulation by Karel Pilar and Sundin provided some much-needed hope.

 It did not last.

 TURNING POINT

 In a wild sequence following a thunderous Darcy Tucker hit on Sami Kapanen, the Flyers broke away on an odd-man rush. With Brian Leetch caught up, Jeremy Roenick buried a wrist shot under the crossbar behind Ed Belfour in overtime to send Philly to the Eastern Conference final.


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