I am a lifetime Toronto Maple Leafs fan. I was nine years old when the Leafs last won the Stanley Cup in 1967. I still remember George Armstrong scoring into an empty net to clinch the Cup in six games against the hated Montreal Canadiens. No, I didn’t have to look that up in Wikipedia to remember that fact (though, in all honesty, I did look it up to confirm my memory hadn’t deceived me). My late mother-in-law was at that game. It was a really, really big deal.
Fast forward to 2021. It was especially bitter when the Leafs went down to the Habs this year in seven games. Meacham was watching the games with me over the course of their series with the exception of the last, deciding game. Before the first round started, we chatted about the matchup, and we were both convinced that the Leafs would win the series in five games. The only proviso I put out about that statement, was, if Carey Price, the Habs all-star goaltender played well, we could be in trouble. But, no problem. He was coming off a concussion, obviously not in fine fettle, and it should be a cakewalk. Plus, we had lots of people agreeing with our assessment of Price.
Four years ago, the Habs coach at the time, Claude Julien, declared, “We’re not idiots. We can see he’s not the Carey Price we know.”
Two years ago, ESPN rated Carey Price as the most overrated player in the NHL.
In the March of 2019, after an 8-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, the Montreal Gazette declared that, “Carey Price wasn’t Carey Price”.
At the ripe old age of 33, Carey Price was done. Finito. Turn out the lights, Elvis has left the building.
Except, Carey Price, the Canadian Hockey League MVP winning, World Junior Gold Medal winning, Calder Cup and MVP winning, Olympic Gold medal winning goaltender has other ideas.
He just needed a few outings to get his game together. Exactly four. Because since then, he’s reeled off seven straight wins as of this writing. He lived rent free inside the heads of the Leafs who came to believe they couldn’t score on him. He’s now done the same thing to the Winnipeg Jets.
So, for the rest of the playoffs, even though I hate the Habs, (Marc Bergevin, get a haircut), I’m rooting for them. Actually, I’m rooting for Carey Price. He’s one of the most decent professional sports figures around. He's proving the naysayers wrong.
We’re all entitled to a second act. I’m hoping Carey’s on a roll and goes all the way. Olé olé.
I'll leave you with yet another ho-hum sunset.