Giving the lost Leafs season an autopsy

Phil Kessel of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates off after a 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets during NHL...

Phil Kessel of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates off after a 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets during NHL action at the Air Canada Centre April 5, 2014. (Dave Abel/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:36 PM ET

In conducting the final ugly autopsy of the 2013-14 Toronto Maple Leafs, which exact point in time can be identified as the beginning of the end for Randy Carlyle's team?

Was it during an emotional pre-season game on Sept. 22, when newcomer David Clarkson's ill-advised decision to hop off the bench to aid his teammates during a brawl with the Buffalo Sabres resulted in a 10-game suspension to start the regular season, leaving the Leafs' prized off-season free agent unable to get his entire campaign back on the tracks?

Was it that fateful Nov. 2 evening at Vancouver's Rogers Arena, when the skate blade of the Canucks' Zack Kassian sliced into the tendon of David Bolland, leaving the heart-and-soul centre and two-time Stanley Cup champion out of the lineup for four months?

Or was it that March 16 afternoon at Washington's Verizon Center, when the Capitals beat James Reimer three times in the first 12 minutes of regulation, igniting a defeat that sparked an eight-game losing streak?

When you examine all of the gruesome evidence, it was all of those things -- and then some.


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