It is been six weeks since fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs saw their club lose to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the first round of Stanley Cup Playoffs, but that 5-1 loss at TD Garden likely did not mark the end of the rooting interests of Leafs Nation.
While the focus of the GTA has been on the Raptors playoff run, those following the Cup Final and tuning in to Game 7 on Wednesday have to be decidedly on the side of the underdog St. Louis Blues over the Leafs archrival.
A disdain for the Bruins is understandable based on recent history, with Boston besting Toronto in Game 7 of the first round three times in the last six years (truthfully they have been the better of the two clubs in each matchup). What should increase Leafs fans desire to see the Bruins lose is the prospect of John Ferguson Jr. getting a Stanley Cup ring.
The Leafs former GM’s tenure was a contributing factor to the club’s near decade-long playoff drought and his most infamous trade has been full display this postseason, with Tuukka Rask the Conn Smythe Trophy favorite if the Bruins win on home ice.
Nearly 13 years ago, Ferguson gave Bruins interim GM Jeff Gorton the option of either Rask (Toronto’s 2005 first rounder) or Justin Pogge (who starred for Canada at the 2006 World Juniors) in exchange for goalie Andrew Raycroft.
Raycroft won the Calder Trophy in 2004, but had a horrible season with Boston in 2006 after the lockout and was subpar for the Leafs in 2007 before losing his job to Vesa Toskala the following season and leaving the Leafs after two seasons. Rask has 280 career wins, a .922 save percentage, won a Cup as a backup in 2011, led the Bruins to the Final two years later and has been a top flight netminder for the last decade.
The Blues will have three ex-Leafs in their lineup for Game 7.
35-year-old Alex Steen is coming to the end of a solid NHL career after being part of another infamous trade with Carlo Colaiacovo for Lee Stempniak made in the waning moments of Cliff Fletcher’s second tour as Leafs GM in 2008.
Carl Gunnarsson was swapped to St. Louis in 2014 for Roman Polak and has experienced an elimination game on TD Garden ice, but probably wants to block out the memory of being on the ice for the two late goals in the 4-1 collapse in 2013 and have a more pleasant moment like he encountered with his overtime winner in Game 2.
Tyler Bozak missed Game 7 six years ago due to injury and may not be playing at 100% on Wednesday after taking a shot off his skate earlier in the series, but the longtime Leaf has been effective for most of the playoffs playing with Patrick Maroon.
There will likely a broad smile on the face on Torontonians on Thursday if one of the trio of ex-Leafs had a key role in the Bruins demise and a lot of sour pusses after seeing Brad Marchand carry around the Cup again.
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