Has it been that long?

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

Back in 1967, much was made of the amazing 40-year-olds who helped the Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup.

But if you'd told Johnny Bower he would become an octogenarian without seeing another parade down Bay Street, he probably would have swallowed his victory cigar.

Bower, who turns 82 this year, can't believe the 40th anniversary of that championship will roll around next season without another Leafs' engraving on the trophy they won four times in the 1960s.

Not only have the Leafs never been to the Cup final since, they didn't make the playoffs this season.

"I just got back from Florida and even there I get asked, 'What's wrong with the Leafs, when are they ever going to win?' " Bower said.

"I used to tell people, 'Give them time, it's a young team'. And they say 'Time? Jeepers, Johnny, it's been almost 40 years!'

Imlach used to fine the Original Six Leafs if they lost to the post-1967 expansion teams, but Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Minnesota/Dallas have all won Cups. Two clubs, the New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers, started from scratch in the 1970s and became dynasties.

Now the Leafs are even seeing 1990s expansion clubs such as Tampa Bay raise the mug, while their provincial rival Ottawa Senators aren't far behind.

"I really can't believe it has been this long," Bower said.


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