TORONTO — The Winnipeg Jets dealt a wicked blow to the playoff hopes of the Toronto Maple Leafs with a 4-2 win on Saturday night at Air Canada Centre.
Jets coach Paul Maurice was once the coach of the Maple Leafs from 2006-2008. When asked about whether or not he took any special feelings away from dealing his former team a blow that may keep them from the postseason, he was coy.
“No,” Maurice said with a wry smile. “You know what, it’s a lousy job. You don’t ever want to play spoiler. We’ve talked a lot about being where you are and that’s where we were tonight and we gave our best effort.”
Maurice’s Leafs team missed the playoffs in 06-07 on the final day of the season after the New York Islanders beat the New Jersey Devils in a shootout. Earlier in the day after the morning skate, Maurice reminisced about that day — a moment that still invoked emotion from him seven years later.
“I remember so clearly watching the shootout between New Jersey and [the Islanders] and I knew Jersey had clinched and, who was it, Wade Dubielewicz, is that right? Wade Dubielewicz in net and the game just prior he poke-checked three of the guys and I knew that New Jersey hadn’t shown video on that, right? They were already in, they didn’t care. They showed five clips and out you go and play,” Maurice said. “I knew we were in trouble when the first poke-check came out, we were in trouble. That was tough, that was a tough day.”
Getting taken out by Wade Dubielewicz and Ted Nolan’s Islanders team in such a fashion would be enough to stick in anyone’s craw for years. When it means getting the chance to take the Maple Leafs to the postseason, it’s even tougher to swallow.
Now it’s current Leafs coach Randy Carlyle who might be looking back on this game with similar regrets.