The season is a failure -- McCabe

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

Their season gone to waste, the Maple Leafs last night took full responsibility for their inability to make the playoffs despite an admirable late charge.

"The season is a failure," defenceman Bryan McCabe said. "(The post-season) is what you play for. You only get so many opportunities to play for the Stanley Cup and this is two years in a row down the tubes (including the lockout) and it is not a good feeling.

"We have no one to blame but ourselves. We put ourselves in this spot. You have to do the job in January and February. That is where we let it slip and we are paying for it now."

The Leafs were third in the Northeast Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference on Jan. 10 after a loss to the Canucks in Vancouver. But they lost the next seven and began to fall, though it was not until they lost to the New York Rangers at home on Feb. 11 that they tumbled out of the top eight in the conference.

Darcy Tucker established a career high with his 60th point last night but it meant nothing to the 31-year-old, whose work ethic was matched by some of his teammates only when it became too late.

"You live to play in the playoffs," Tucker said. "There is nothing else that meets those sort of goals in your life. Besides having children and a family there is no other thing in life than winning hockey games in the playoffs. It's like having your heart ripped out."

SUNDIN OUT FOR WORLDS

Mats Sundin said he will not play for Sweden in the world championship next month, but was not as forthcoming when he said "you're asking the wrong person," when asked what changes with the Leafs should be made this summer.

Like McCabe, Sundin pointed to the struggles in January and February as unacceptable.

"It shouldn't come down to this part of the season to try to make it in," Sundin said. "We should be in a position where we had a playoff spot. I am very proud of the way our team has rallied, (we have) a lot of character. But we started to play like this too late."


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