Perfect-10-start record safe for now

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:26 AM ET

BOSTON -- They won't be popping champagne as the 1972 Miami Dolphins do every year their undefeated mark is preserved.

But those on the 1993-94 Maple Leafs can rest easy for another year. Within 72 hours this week, two challenges to their 10-game winning streak to start a season fell short when the Ottawa Senators were halted at six in a row and the Nashville Predators at eight.

The Preds lost 3-2 in overtime to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night, leaving Toronto with the National Hockey League record.

"Teams have had 10-game winning streaks, but certainly the biggest challenge would be to win 10 out of the gate," said winger Mark Osborne, a member of the 1993 team and now a television analyst. "I guess you have to think it would be done sometime. But maybe not this year, when the league is adjusting to the new rules and you thought every team would be close in the standings.

"Would we be upset to lose the record? It's just nice to be a part of something like that. It's more a point of pride than anything."

The Predators were not a even born in October 1993 when the Pat Burns-era Leafs got on a roll. The prior spring, the Leafs had made it to within a game of going to the Stanley Cup final. But they found their streak playing second fiddle to the Blue Jays' quest for a second World Series championship.

On Oct. 23, when they broke the old NHL mark with their ninth win, a 2-0 shutout in Tampa Bay, Joe Carter belted the Series-winning home run off Mitch Williams of the Philadelphia Phillies.

"What's interesting is that's the same night (Blue Jays announcer) Tom Cheek told Joe to 'touch 'em all,' " Osborne said. "Now Tom has just passed away, it's World Series time and these teams (Nashville and Ottawa) are coming close."

Public relations director Pat Park and equipment manager Brian Papineau are the only members of the '93 Leafs still with the club. The 10th win, also on the road, came 12 years ago tonight, in Chicago.

"I just remember looking at the newspaper at the bottom teams that year and wondering how long it would take them to make up 18 or 20 points on us," Papineau said. "The one game that stands out is the overtime win against Florida (the eighth victory, with Rob Pearson scoring the winner)."

Osborne recalled the Leafs were not a cohesive club during the exhibition season, which included holding part of training camp in England. There was some criticism after the strong Cup run the previous spring and worries that the Leafs could struggle when the season began.

"We just tried to keep it going, though it never crossed our mind we'd never lose," Osborne said with a laugh.

Toronto lost the 11th game to the Montreal Canadiens.

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PERFECT 10

The Pat Burns-coached 1993-94 Maple Leafs are the only NHL team to open a season with 10 consecutive wins:

OCTOBER 7

- Toronto 6, Dallas 3

OCTOBER 9

- Toronto 2, Chicago 1

OCTOBER 10

- Toronto 5, Philadelphia 4

OCTOBER 13

- Toronto 7, Washington 1

OCTOBER 15

- Toronto 6, Detroit 3

OCTOBER 16

- Toronto 2, Detroit 1

OCTOBER 19

- Toronto 7, Hartford 2

OCTOBER 21

- Toronto 4, Florida 3 (OT)

OCTOBER 23

- Toronto 2, Tampa 0

OCTOBER 28

- Toronto 4, Chicago 2

Streak ends: October 30

- Montreal 5, Toronto 2


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