BUFFALO -- Three years ago, Glen Wesley thought his best chance for a Stanley Cup was with the Maple Leafs.
With help from his wife Barb, he was convinced to waive his no-trade clause with the Carolina Hurricanes and join Toronto in time for the 2003 playoffs.
The experience lasted just one playoff round for Wesley, as the Leafs fell in seven games to the Philadelphia Flyers. Wesley missed the first two playoff games because of a broken left foot and couldn't reach agreement on a multi-year, no-trade deal as the Leafs changed general managers that summer.
He went back to Carolina, expecting another long climb to respectability after the lockout. Yet here he is, in sniffing distance of Stanley, while Toronto missed the playoffs this time.
"I think everything happens for a reason," Wesley said yesterday before Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final. "Coming back here, going through the lockout and rebuilding this team in the new NHL, no one was sure how it would work out. But it obviously did."
Wesley, who will turn 38 this year and has played close to 1,500 regular-season and playoff games without a Cup, wasn't bitter about his brief Toronto sojourn.
"It was a fantastic experience; I just wish things could have worked out better in the playoffs," he said. "Unfortunately when you get the fourth and fifth-seeded teams running up against each other, a very good team is going to be eliminated."