A 37-Year Cup drought not a burden: Quinn

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 4:59 PM ET


  The most haunted day on the modern Maple Leafs calendar is here.

 But the 37th anniversary of Toronto's most recent Stanley Cup clinching victory isn't as much a millstone as some previous years.

 For one, these Leafs are still alive, coming off back-to-back wins against the Philadelphia Flyers and looking to make their third Eastern Conference final in six years under Pat Quinn.

 It can be argued this edition has tried the most to end the second-longest Cup drought in National Hockey League history. They pushed the payroll to a record high. They brought in Joe Nieuwendyk, who has won a Cup with three different teams. They splurged at the trade deadline for Brian Leetch, addressing a hole on defence and getting a player well versed in Cup ghost-busting with the 1994 New York Rangers.

 But in Toronto, the reminders of 1967 are everywhere. Johnny Bower's Game 4 standing ovation for giving away a free phone is evidence of that.

 "It's always important to know when the last Cup was, but it's not a burden I necessarily carry around," Quinn said yesterday. "It's something that crops up every year. People want to win the Cup every year and so do I."

 Quinn doesn't consider the '67 legacy to be a millstone.

 "The last time I was in a final (his Vancouver Canucks lost to Leetch's Rangers), it was 54 years for New York," Quinn said. "But I don't think it was a millstone for that team. They won because they did the right things against us in Game 7.

 "We hope to do the right things this year and move on, so that 25 years from now they can say the last Leafs Cup was 2004."

 To be fair, the '67 Leafs had to win only two playoff rounds in a six-team NHL.

 "The guys in this room haven't been here for 37 years," winger Darcy Tucker said of living with the drought. "We can play as hard as we can each and every year. This is a team very rich in tradition and we'd like to bring a Cup back to Toronto. But you have to go through the process to get that accomplished."


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