Memories and nightmares

BILL LANKHOF -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

The banner at the Air Canada Centre reads "Memories and Dreams." And, any day now there will be an announcement about the reunion of the Maple Leafs' last Stanley Cup-winning team of 1967. It will benefit the Make A Wish Foundation.

Maybe they could wish for some wins for today's Maple Leafs because this franchise is getting long on memories and short on dreams.

For one, head coach Paul Maurice is dreaming of actually getting through one game where his MVP doesn't have to be the medical staff. Not only did what's left of his injury-riddled hockey team lose 4-1 to Carolina last night, they also lost Ian White with a shoulder injury.

Clawing to stay in a playoff spot, this was another night when the Leafs couldn't stay out of the penalty box, the infirmary or the loss column.

"We were our own worst enemy," Bryan McCabe said. "We had a great first period then we got into penalties and with two five-on-threes they were bound to score."

Next month marks the 80th anniversary of Toronto's NHL team changing its name from St. Patricks to the Maple Leafs. In the first 40 years since then, the franchise won 11 Stanley Cups. Last night they won the first period. That's it. Things have changed a bit since Bill Barilko went fishing.

Sure, some things are still the same. There's the designated goat. It used to be Bob McGill, a generation ago. Inge Hammarstrom, according to Harold Ballard, didn't just have what sounds like a girl's name -- he played like one, too. The guy threw more no-hitters than Roger Clemens. Now, it's Nik Antropov, who gets cheered for not playing, and Andrew Raycroft, who gets booed when he does play.

There were the puck-movers, like Borje Salming smiling down from the rafters. Last night, it was White who sprang Jeff O'Neill with a nifty pass that led to Toronto's goal in the first period.

"Ian has become an important part of our team," Maurice said. "He moves the puck (and) skates (with) the puck."

Too bad he can't move his shoulder.

There were the plumbers like Bob Nevin or Parker McDonald and Ed Shack who survived on wits and intensity but sometimes couldn't hit the net with a bazooka. Ditto Boyd Devereaux at the edge of the crease, and John Pohl, and Chad Kilger.

So what has changed? Well, a couple generations ago White would've been a game star instead of ending up seeing stars and at least a couple of those first-period chances by Kilger and Pohl would've gone in.

"We're not playing good enough as a team. Why? I don't know," Mats Sundin said. "We just didn't skate well in the second period, took a lot of penalties ... we can't do that against a team as good as Carolina."

The last time the Maple Leafs won a Stanley Cup, Carolina was the home of good bourbon and bad hockey. Ronald Reagan was just a two-bit actor, $23,000 got you a new house, Martin Luther King was still alive and nobody had heard of James Earl Ray or, for that matter, Sundin. Johnny Bower and Terry Sawchuk could milk a one-goal lead all the way to the Hall of Fame. Last night, Raycroft watched it disappear in less then three minutes in the second period.

A stamp cost a nickel and milk was delivered to your doorstep. The Maple Leafs were a veteran team. Today, if one more player goes down to injury, Leafs scouts are going to have to check out the between-period Timbits players. Not to mention, in 1967, people could count on some Toronto traditions -- like a winter with snow, a summer without smog and a spring that included the sights and sounds of a Stanley Cup parade.

Instead, last night's sounds included a fire alarm that echoed through the ACC at the end of the second period. When it was silenced, the ACC announcer told fans: "All systems are back to normal."

We should be so lucky.


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