The Skirmish of Ontario?
It's become boring, and the sad part is there are so many who think they're being clever.
"Plan the parade" is the line that the truly thick utter at this time of year when the Maple Leafs win a hockey game, or two. As if there's a single person in the City of Toronto or the GTA who believes these Maple Leafs have a shot at winning the Stanley Cup this year or next.
Seems to me the long-suffering hockey fans around here deserve to at least be able to enjoy a victory now and then. Seems to me that since pretty much every hockey prognosticator out there has picked the Leafs to miss post-season play - again - an opening night victory over Montreal is cause for mild optimism without having to apologize.
Happily for Ron Wilson, the Leafs now get a little scheduling break. While he gathers his troops and undoubtedly suggests they might want to get their feet moving a little earlier on Saturday night against Ottawa than they did against the Habs, the Senators are in Detroit, home of the 4-0 Lions and ALCS-bound Tigers, taking on the Red Wings.
The Sens haven't played in eight days, and two games in two nights shouldn't leave them exhausted. Still, you take every edge you can, so the Senators will play and then make the short jaunt from Motown to Toronto while the Leafs sit at home and watch baseball playoffs.
Quite clearly, Saturday night's clash isn't likely to be a great example of the once lively Battle of Ontario. These are two hockey clubs trying to find their way out of the wilderness, and neither is doing it like Edmonton, tearing it all down and finishing 30th for a couple of years to get the best teenagers the world has to offer.
There's been great criticism in Toronto for some of Brian Burke's decisions that are viewed as contradictory to the youth movement he has put in place, such as trading away high first round draft picks. In Ottawa, the process is even more confusing. The Sens will dress a host of recent first round picks like 18-year-old Mika Zibanejad, Jared Cowen, Erik Karlsson, David Rundblad, Brian Lee and Nick Foligno, but also thirtysomethings Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Phillips, Sergei Gonchar, Filip Kuba, Chris Neil, Zenon Konopka and Matt Carkner, as well as both goalies, Craig Anderson and Alex Auld.
The much younger Leafs, by contrast, have two players who are 30 years old, Tim Connolly and John-Michael Liles, and that's it.
So is Ottawa trying to win now, or at least finish much higher in the Eastern Conference? And where do the Sens and GM Bryan Murray stand in their rebuilding project compared to the Leafs? One difference is that while Burke inherited a mess and has spent 2 1/2 years trying to overhaul the roster, Murray, to a large extent, created his own mess, and has been given an opportunity to clean it up.
These are two men, of course, who have been linked before in terms of their managerial expertise. Those who would deny Burke credit for being GM of the Stanley Cup-winning Anaheim Ducks in '07 contend that Murray, who preceded Burke, was the real architect of that team because he drafted Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. It's a silly debate; both men had a hand in it, and nobody takes credit from Peter Chiarelli in Boston because he didn't draft Tim Thomas, David Krejci or Patrice Bergeron.
Still, it links Burke and Murray forever, and now it's a contest between the two veteran GMs to see who can get their team back among the league's playoff teams faster.
Burke appears to have the lead at the moment. Perhaps that perception changes if Zibanejad has an impact right away that Nazem Kadri, drafted in a similar position, has thus far failed to have with the Leafs.
Saturday night's skirmish will offer a little bit of an answer.