Leafs forced to bivouac in boondocks

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:11 PM ET


 Folklore suggests that General George Washington supplied his soldiers with concubines while they were encamped at Valley Forge, Pa., during the winter of 1778.

 Pat Quinn understandably was not about to go to that extent for his own troops, who were forced to stay in the same area Wednesday night because of a lack of hotel rooms in Philadelphia.

 TRAVELLING

 While the Valley Forge region is a picturesque tourist destination, the 50-minute drive along congested Interstate 76 into downtown Philly is like travelling on the Don Valley Parkway during rush hour.

 Medical and teachers conventions, coupled with the world-renowned Penn Relays, have made accommodations scarce in the Delaware Valley for several days. It is believed that rooms will begin opening up by the weekend.

 The Maple Leafs, who flew back to Toronto after Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semi-final against the Philadelphia Flyers last night at the Wachovia Center, are expected to move into a downtown hotel upon their return to Philly Saturday in advance of Game 2.

 This is not the first time a Toronto team has been forced to stay in the boonies during the post-season.

 Eleven years ago, the Blue Jays had little choice but to set up camp in West Conshohocken, a town several kilometres down the highway from Valley Forge.

 "We're too far out," an annoyed Roberto Alomar said at the time. "You can't take a cab anywhere because we must be a $100 fare away from town. (And) other than room service, there are no places to eat."

 The Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto's opponents during the 1993 World Series, claimed there was no available lodging closer to Veterans Stadium but, behind closed doors, a number of Jays officials wondered if it simply was a ploy to get the visitors off their games.

 If so, it didn't work.The Jays won the Series four games to two, prompting pitcher Todd Stottlemyre to proclaim that then-Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell could kiss his butt.

 HARDSHIPS

 Leafs defenceman Brian Leetch knows all about the hardships of being on a visiting team in the City of Brotherly Love. His New York Rangers were despised by Flyers fans especially when Eric Lindros joined the Broadway Blueshirts in 2001.

 "The people here always are loud, vocal and fun," Leetch said. "This city is a sports city and their fans are very passionate."


Videos

Photos