Taking Back A Piece of History
There was a interesting little note in the fine print of Kevin Dupont's hockey column in the Boston Globe on Sunday that will take Maple Leaf fans back a little in recent history.
Goalie Felix Potvin, Dupont reported, has decided to retire at age 35, with no takers for his netminding services. Potvin is the last member of the 1992-93 Leaf team that made it to Game 7 of the Western Conference final against Los Angeles before losing a heartbreaker on home ice to pack it in.
Potvin, of course, was also the main man in the Leaf net the following autumn when the club set an NHL record for wins from the start of the season with 10, a mark that could be in jeopardy this week as the Buffalo Sabres remain perfect out of the gate with eight consecutive victories.
And whose record did the Leafs break back in '93? Why, one owned by the Sabres, of course, the 1975-76 Buffalo squad that opened the year with eight straight wins to tie a previous best set by the 1934-35 Leafs.
So the Sabres may be looking to get a piece of their history back this week. They have Montreal on the road Monday night, and if they win that one they can tie the record of 10 straight wins to open the season on Thursday on Long Island.
The record-breaking contest would be at home against red-hot Atlanta on Saturday.
Back in October, 1993 the Leafs tied the previous record with their eighth straight win in Miami against the Florida Panthers, a 4-3 triumph with Potvin's backup, Damian Rhodes, in net.
They then set a new mark against Tampa Bay before 22,880 at the St. Petersburg "Thunderdome," and extended it to 10 games with a 4-2 triumph in Chicago that ended a four-year, 13-game losing streak in the Windy City. Potvin made 46 saves in that game.
The streak was ended on Saturday night in Montreal Oct. 30, 1993 with a 5-2 loss to the then defending Stanley Cup champion Canadiens.
Four days later Doug Gilmour signed a new five-year, $15 million contract, and a day after that Nikolai Borschevsky had his spleen removed after a game against the Panthers at Maple Leaf Gardens.
The Leafs started 12-1-2 that season, amassed 32 points in the standings in their first 21 games and went all the way the Western Conference final again, losing to Vancouver.