So, the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs resumed their hostilities in The Battle of Ontario last night. Undoubtedly, it gave fans at Scotiabank Place the chance to lustily boo that dastardly Matt Stajan, well-known stick man Tomas Kaberle and all-round horrible person Alexei Ponikarovsky.
You have to admit, it’s a little difficult developing a serious hate-on for the Maple Leafs these days isn’t it? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that both teams are now a shell of their former selves or that the most intimidating member of the Maple Leafs is their GM. But there is little doubt The Battle of Ontario has lost a huge amount of lustre since the lockout.
Yeah, it makes us pine for the days when Tie Domi was being an all-round miscreant and inexplicably flying into the boards after getting hit by Rickard Persson and not wearing sequins and hugging guys. It sure makes us fondly remember the days when both teams were at least good enough to make the playoffs. Every year the Senators would make the Leafs generally look like the Washington Generals during the regular season before transforming into the world’s most proficient choke artists the moment they were confronted with a blue and white sweater after April 1.
What do we have now? We have a Senators team that is a middle-of-the-pack squad in the NHL and a Leaf team that hasn’t been able to shoot straight since the players came back from the lockout. The Senators defeated the Maple Leafs 2-1 in their first game this season and it was a pedantic affair that had all the intrigue and passion of a game against the Nashville Predators or Phoenix Coyotes on a Tuesday night.
Neither team appears to be on much of a fast track to seriously contend for the Stanley Cup and another meeting in the playoffs would require the Maple Leafs to actually qualify for the post-season, which looks to be a long-term project at best.
Sure that improves the Senators chances in the playoffs, but doesn’t it all make you miss the likes of Darcy Tucker, Shayne Corson and Gary Roberts…just a little?
This article also appeared in the Ottawa Metro newspaper.