When the Maple Leafs gathered for a team dinner at a high-end steakhouse here Monday night, there was a chance the gloom would be lifted for a few moments.
But there’s little denying that a wake awaits, possibly by the time Tuesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning concludes.
Long faces mixed with resignation at the extent of the team’s monumental collapse over the past month made for a glum afternoon practice at the St. Pete Times Forum.
No explanation for the heartless loss to Winnipeg on Saturday and only half-hearted optimism tied to the slimmest of mathematical chances that remain.
“Obviously, there is a wide array of emotions at this point, but at this point we’re still alive,” Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk said. “We’re going to keep playing and keep going. That’s all we can do for now.”
That and hope for a miracle.