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Bills and Leafs are blood brothers in misery and heartbreak

January 24, 2022, 12:47 PM ET [533 Comments]
Mike Augello
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Thoughts began to rattle around in my head after the Buffalo Bills 42-36 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday that there are a number of parallels between the perennially disappointing and heartbreaking Bills and how they have lost over the years and the suffering that the fan base of the Toronto Maple Leafs continues to go through.

Buffalo has not won a championship since 1965 and as we know so well, the Leafs’ last Stanley Cup victory occurred in 1967. The Bills made four straight Super Bowl appearances in the early 1990s with Hall of Famers Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, and Bruce Smith, around the same time as the Leafs made consecutive Conference Final appearances with Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark, Dave Andreychuk and Felix Potvin.

Both clubs had success at the end of the century, with Toronto making the final four and Buffalo making the postseason in 1999, each had long playoff droughts through the first two decades of the 21st century, and have reached the playoffs on a consistent basis over the last five years and have one of the best young players in their respective sports.

The issue for both the Bills and Leafs has been their ability to persevere and perform in the postseason and their penchant for dramatic losses. For every “Great Western Forum” screw job and Game 7 loss to Los Angeles in 1993, the blown 4-1 lead in Game 7 against the Bruins in 2013 or losing to the Habs after holding a 3-1 lead last season, the Bills can offer “Wide Right”, “Homerun Throwback” and now “13 seconds” in return.

The difference between the two is their path to the playoffs. The Bills are likely to get back to the postseason for the foreseeable future in a division with the rebuilding Jets, the resetting Dolphins, and an aging Patriots squad, while Toronto has to deal with two juggernauts from the state of Florida.

At this point, unless the Leafs win the Atlantic Division and force Tampa and Florida to beat on each other in the first round, Toronto will have to go through both of them to reach the Eastern Conference Final for the first time in 20 years. Anything is possible in professional sports, but realistically the Leafs would have to significantly bolster themselves (on the blueline, in my opinion) before the March 21 trade deadline to have a chance of evening the playing field with the Lightning or Panthers.

If they don’t and end up losing to one of their Sunshine State foes in the first round, it might not be the end of the world but it could be the end the Shanahan/Dubas era in Toronto.


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