Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 05/06/12 at 07:30 AM ET
The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons tosses some rather obvious hints at the John Tortorellas and Brian Burkes of the hockey world, discusses the “Russian problem,” Marc Bergevin’s qualifications, surprising playoff performers and the utter unpredictability of the playoffs in his Sunday column, but something tells me you might be more interested in the main thrust of his discussion:
When Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn got caught out too late and were cast aside by the Nashville Predators, it had to have stirred bad memories for a group of former Maple Leafs who believe that their 2002 run at the Stanley Cup was sabotaged internally by inappropriate player behaviour. While many former Leafs refuse to go on the record to talk about the divide of 10 years ago, there are those, including Alexander Mogilny — ironically a Russian considering the current circumstances — who hold teammates responsible for the defeat of the favoured Leafs, costing them what they believe would have been a rare shot at the Stanley Cup.
As the story goes, at least four Leafs chose to go on something of a drunken binge between games — it isn’t known if coach Pat Quinn was aware of the situation — and when the Leafs lost Game 2 in overtime, on a puck that deflected off Shayne Corson, the team was so divided that it had trouble getting back together to perform for the rest of the series. The Leafs ended up losing three overtime games in all, being bounced by the Hurricanes in six games.
As much as it can be told, the story has been kept quiet over the years but it has never stopped players on that team from talking about it among themselves. That season, at the Leafs wrapup party, at least one fist fight between players took place. The damaged feelings have never been repaired.
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