It started last night. 16 teams with one goal, survive the next 8 weeks for a chance to lift the Holy Grail of hockey.
My Leafs are there for the first time in 9 years. They haven't won a cup during my lifetime (I was born 5 months after the last cup in 1967).
The Leafs drew the Boston Bruins, probably the one team in the Eastern Conference that they match up poorly against. It will be the first time the two teams have met in the playoffs since 1974, when the Bruins swept the blue shirts in 4 straight.
There was a bright spot on that Leafs club, a young Swedish defenseman who finished 9th in club scoring with 39 points, and was a +38 that year to lead the team. That man, was Borje Salming...
To my absolute delight, this 77-78 OPC card of Salming arrived in my mailbox on Monday, courtesy of Max from the Starting Nine blog. Salming was the one constant on the Leaf roster through the great teams of the late 70's through the insanity that was the first half of the 80's.
"The 2nd season" this year is quite appropriately named, with a team potentially playing 28 games in the playoffs after having played a 48 game schedule during the regular season.
To be honest, I'm just glad that the Leafs are back in after such a long absence, and here's hoping this season is the start of another long run of playoff appearances. My belief is that management has them heading in the right direction, and with another piece or two there's a possibility of them becoming Cup contenders in the not too distant future.
thanks for reading, Robert