With the Maple Leafs spiraling and Bruins prospering, and the Bruins taking 5 of 6 points against the Leafs this year, everything feels normal. This is how it has been, how it’s supposed to be. Let’s take a look at how it got to be this way, starting way back with one trade in 2006.
6/24/06 – Rask for Raycroft
A simple headline: Bruins Acquire Goaltending Prospect From Toronto For Andrew Raycroft. Little did we know, that not only would this be one of the most lopsided trades in NHL history, but it would be the start of 13 years and counting of dominance by the Bruins. Raycroft, who had won the Calder trophy just a year before the trade, would go on to play 91 games over two seasons for the Leafs, posting an .890 sv%, losing the starting job to Vesa Toskala and leaving as a free agent. Not good. Meanwhile, Tuukka Rask is a Stanley Cup and Vezina Trophy winner, has lead his team to the Stanley Cup Final twice, and is building at least an argument to be a Hall of Famer, still going strong at 32. The Bruins have been on the wrong side of a lot of lopsided trades, but none compare to Rask for Raycroft.
2009 – Bruins win season series 5-1, finish first. Leafs finish last in NE.
2009 was the breakout season of the Bruins modern golden age, while it was much of the same for the Leafs. The Bruins beat them 5 of 6 times they played, and the Leafs finished last in the Northeast Division, while the Bruins finished 2nd in the NHL. This was just the beginning.
7/01/09 – Leafs sign Mike Komisarek
The signing of Mike Komisarek didn’t have a direct relation to the Bruins, but it’s worth mentioning. In his prior two season’s in Montreal, Komisarek had developed a hated feud with Milan Lucic, one of the best individual rivalries in recent NHL memory. The two fought multiple times, and wanted nothing but to kill each other when they were on the ice together. Did the Leafs sign him to try and get Lucic and the Bruins off their game? It’s at least possible. This isn’t the last we hear of Komisarek.
9/18/09 – Leafs acquire Phil Kessel from the Bruins in exchange for 3 draft picks.
Ah, yes. This was the Leafs push to finally be good and make the playoffs for the first time since the lockout. What better way than to trade for a 21-year-old, 36 goal and 60 point scorer? All they had to do was trade draft picks – nothing even from their roster. But you see, trading draft picks, especially 1st round draft picks, when you are a bad team is not good. The Leafs gave the Bruins their 2010 first and second-round picks, and their 2011 first round pick. Kessel would end up being excellent during his time in Toronto, their best player, putting up 394 points in 446 games over 6 seasons, but that’s not what this trade would be remembered for.
2010 – Bruins win season series 4-1-1, Leafs finish 2nd last league.
If you can believe it, the Leafs were bad again, but this time it was significant. The Leafs finishing 2nd in the league meant the Bruins would get the 2nd pick in the draft. And not just any draft, it was the Taylor or Tyler draft.
6/25/10 – Bruins draft Tyler Seguin
With Brian Burke and the Maple Leafs draft watching from their table at the draft floor, the Bruins draft Tyler Seguins #2 overall with the Maple Leafs’ draft pick. Seguin would go on to be a decent player…
2/11/11 – Leafs trade Kaberle to Bruins, Kaberle wins cup
With the Leafs once again on the outside of the playoff structure, and Tomas Kaberle in the final year on his contract, Kaberle was a prime rental candidate at the 2011 trade deadline. The Bruins had a dismal powerplay, so what better way to try and fix it then go acquire one of the league’s best power-play defenseman? A 12 year veteran of the Leafs, Kaberle was dealt to the Bruins for Joe Colborne, the Bruins 2011 first round pick, and the Bruins 2012 second round pick. A big reason the Bruins were able to make this trade? They had already had Toronto’s first round pick, which was looking to be top 10. The pick would end up being #30 overall, which Toronto later traded along with the #32 overall pick to Anaheim for the #22 overall pick, where they selected Tyler Biggs, who went on to play a grand total of 0 NHL games. The picks they traded to Anaheim turned into Rickard Rickell and John Gibson. Hilarious, and remarkably on brand. Meanwhile, Tomas Kaberle would do something special 4 months later with a division rival’s logo on his chest.
6/15/11 – Bruins win cup
Ah, the pinnacle of hockey. Tomas Kaberle, Tyler Seguin, Tomas Kaberle, John Fergeson Jr. and all, the Bruins were Stanley Cup Champions, littered with help from the Leafs. While the Bruins were celebrating and collecting $157K bills, the Leafs had been sitting at home for months after finishing second last in the east.
3/19/12 – Bruins win 8-0, sweep season series 6-0, Kessel is thanked, Komisarek is murdered.
Oh brother, this seemed like a whole culmination of everything the Leafs had suffered the past 6 years into one season, and one game. The Bruins swept the Leafs in the season series, winning all 6 games by scores of 6-2, 7-0, 6-3, 4-1, 5-4, and 8-0. Remember how I said we weren’t done with Mike Komisarek? Well after the Bruins went up 4-0 in the first period of an 8-0 win, Mike Komisarek decided to step past the linesman in order to go after Milan Lucic, and let me tell you folks, it did not end up well for him. As Jack Edwards said, “throw in the towel it’s a mercy killing!” This was pretty much the end of Komisarek’s relevance in the NHL as well, as he would only go on to play 10 more games with the Leafs before being bought out, and 42 NHL games total. It was also the peak of the “Thank you Kessel” chant, which was awesome until there was nothing to thank Kessel for anymore.
2013 – Bruins win season series 3-1
In the lockout-shortened season, the Bruins still had their way with the Leafs, winning 3 of 4 against a team that PDOd their way to the playoffs for the first time since the lockout. Chris Bourque scored his only goal as a Bruin in a 1-0 win on 2/12/13.
5/13/13 – It was 4-1
This is the peak. It looked like everything was going to change. Kessel had finally slayed his demons against the Bruins, and James Reimer stood on his head to put the Leafs in position to upset a Bruins team that started the season 19-4-3. Cody Franson’s two goals had the Leafs up 2-1 after 2, and goals from Kessel and Nazem Kadri put the Leafs up 4-1 less than 6 minutes into the 3rd. Jack Edwards’ famous words, “The Toronto Maple Leafs, unless they suffer a colossal collapse, are going to eliminate the Boston Bruins” rang true at the time, until the Toronto Maple Leafs suffered a colossal collapse. You know what happens next. Horton, Lucic, Bergeron, and Bergeron again. One of the greatest comebacks in league history, but this was far from the end for the Leafs.
2013 playoffs: Tuukka proceeds to put up the highest sv% by a goalie in the playoffs ever on the way to the final
To add insult to injury, Tuukka Rask put up a ridiculous .940 sv% during the Bruins run to the Stanley Cup Final. By the way, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but Tuukka Rask was drafted by the Leafs.
Summer 2013 – Leafs try to be good, Acquire Bernier, Bolland, and Clarkson
This doesn’t directly related to the Bruins, but after making the playoffs in 2013, the Leafs put forth an extremely sad attempt to build on their moderate success, and be good. They traded for Jonathan Bernier, and Dave Bolland, then signed David Clarkson to one of the worst contracts in NHL history. He scored 30 goals on an inflated shooting percentage in 2012 and 24 points in 48 games in 2013, which was enough for the Leafs to offer him 7 years and $36.75 million. Clarkson’s Leafs tenure got started with a 10 game suspension in the preseason for jumping off the bench to join a fight. Bolland, who scored the Stanley Cup winning goal against the Bruins just a week before, played in just 23 games for the Leafs. Another in a long list of teams trying to win like the 2011 Bruins
2014 – Bruins win President’s trophy, Leafs season goes up in flames. Rask wins Vezina.
After making the playoffs and adding pieces in the offseason, the Leafs got off to a good start to the 2013-14 season. It didn’t last long though, as their season spectacularly went up in Flames as they fell to 6th in the Atlantic. Meanwhile, the Bruins dominated the regular season and won the Presidents trophy. More of the same.
Somewhere around 2015 – Kessel is traded and blamed for everything
The Phil Kessel era in Toronto ended with 1 playoff appearance, 0 playoff series wins, and being run out of town by the media. The hotdog saga was ridiculous, and it all the Leafs’ struggles were pinned on Kessel, who was their best player the entire time. Things were all merry and fun in Leafs land.
2016 – Bruins win season series 3-0-1, Leafs finish dead last
The 2016 Bruins weren’t good, but they were good enough to win 3 of 4 from the Leafs, who finished dead last in the league. In more Bruins Leafs connections, Jonas Gustavsson was the Bruins backup goalie that year.
2017 – Things appear to change, Leafs sweep season series, almost finish ahead of Bruins
2017 was the year that things appeared to change. The Bruins had missed the playoffs two straight seasons, and the Leafs were on the upswing with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander. On February 4th, the Leafs went up 4-1 in TD Garden, and the Bruins came back to tie it (sound familiar?), but this time James Van Riemsdyk scored late, and the Leafs won it 5-4. That was the final straw for Claude Julien, and he was fired days later. The Leafs swept the season series against the Bruins, and they had a chance to finish ahead of the Bruins on the last day of the season, but fittingly, they blew a 2-0 to Columbus and had to face the President’s trophy-winning Capitals instead of the very beatable Ottawa Senators. Both teams lost in six games in the first round, and it looked like the Leafs were a step ahead of the Bruins in their rebuild.
4/12/18 – Kadri is suspended
In Games 1 and 2 of the 2018 playoffs were trouncings of the Leafs, 5-1 and 7-3. Nazem Kadri didn’t like this, and in the third period of Game 1 decided the thrust his butt into the head of Tommy Wingles, who was down on the ice against the boards. That got Kadri suspended for 3 games, maybe the difference in the series, as the Leafs were forced to match Tomas Plekanec in his spot against the Bergeron line. I’m sure Nazem learned from his mistake.
4/25/18 – Game 7 2.0
In the exact same situation as 2013, the Leafs came to Boston for a Game 7 after coming back from down 3-1 in the series. It felt different, and not in a good way for Boston. The Bruins didn’t play well in Game 6, and the Leafs had all the momentum. Kasperi Kapanen’s short handed goal put the Leafs up 4-3 heading into the third. The building was dead, almost somber, until a Torey Krug blast set the building on fire. Jake DeBrusk turned Jake Gardiner to give the Bruins the lead, and David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand secured it. In 2013, it was one 3 goal lead blown. In 2018, it was 3 one-goal leads blow, including 4 unanswered in the 3rd. History repeats itself.
6/1/19 – Leafs sign Tavares
If the Bruins and Leafs were even in 2018, then this was the move that put the Leafs over the top. It was the biggest free-agent signing in NHL history, one that many saw as the move that bumped the Leafs into contender status.
11/10/18 and 12/08/18 – Leafs embarrassed on TD Garden ice
In John Tavares’s first two visits to TD Garden with Toronto, the Leafs did what they do best in TD Garden: embarrass themselves. The November game was a fairly normal 5-1 win, but the second one was a rout physically and on the scoreboard. Brandon Carlo beat up Nazem Kadri late in the second, then in the third, after the Bruins went up 6-1, Zach Hyman took a run at Charlie McAvoy just a few games after McAvoy had returned from a concussion, a hit that got Hyman suspended for 2 games. Matt Grzelcyk was also ejected for coming to McAvoy’s defense. Chris Wagner later laid out Morgan Reilly at center ice, and Ron Hainsey immediately went at Wagner, signaling at Wagner with his hands to come at him. Not the best look when your down 6-1 and lose the fight!
4/13/19 – Kadri is suspended, again
As it turns out, Nazem did not learn his lesson. In an out of control Game 2, Nazem Kadri and Jake DeBrusk had been going at it all game. They tackled each other to the ground in the first, and collided knee on knee in open ice in the 3rd among other events. Late in the third, DeBrusk hit Patrick Marleau into the corner glass of the Bruins bench. Kadri promptly responded by skating over to DeBrusk and cross-checking him in the face. For the second year in a row, Kadri was suspended in the first round against the Bruins, this time for the remainder of the series, and for the second year in a row, it may of been the difference in the outcome.
4/21/19 – Bruins win game 6 in Toronto
Again, it looked like this was going to be different. The Leafs straight up outplayed the Bruins in games 1, 3, and 5, and were on the brink of advancing to the second round for the first time since the lockout and finally slaying goliath. The went up 1-0 in the first period of Game 6, before the Bruins put in one of the most determined efforts I’ve seen from this group, battling to take a 3-1 lead in the second and shutting the Leafs down after they made it 3-2. Tet another Game 7 at TD Garden was upon us.
4/23/19 – Game 7 3.0
Unlike the last two Game 7s, there was no big comeback from the Bruins, no drama, and no time where they looked like they were in trouble. They did that in Game 6. From the get-go, the Bruins had this one under control. The Leafs cut a 2-0 lead to 2-1 in the second and really dominated the period, but a Sean Kuraly goal made it 3-1 and a big save from Tuukka Rask on Zach Hyman seconds after kept it that way, for good. History once again repeated itself, and the curse lives on.
2019 playoffs – Tampa loses, Isles advance, Rask carries Bruins to game 7 of the cup final
With Tampa getting swept by Columbus, the path through the east to the Finals all of a sudden looked very clear, so Leafs fans forever get to imagine what could have been had they won Game 6 or 7. To add salt to the wound, the team John Tavares left for the Leafs, the Islanders, swept the Penguins in the first round, and moved onto Round 2, something the Leafs haven’t done since 2004, while John Tavares watched from home. Oh and by the way, Leafs’ draft pick Tuukka Rask lead the Bruins through another spectacular playoff run. We don’t talk about what happened after that.
11/15/19 – Bruins defeat Leafs in Toronto. Babcock fired 5 days later
The best part about this is that I get to add to it while writing it! The Bruins win over the Leafs last Friday in Toronto was the Leafs 4th of 6 (and counting) consecutive losses. That cost Mike Babcock his job. The coach they signed to the largest coaching deal in NHL history lost his job just over half way through his 8 year contract mostly because of the Bruins in the first place, so it’s fitting that a loss to Boston was one of the final straws.
With the Leafs below .500 and outside of a playoff spot, a reversal of fortune may not be happening any time soon. It’s remarkable how much of an impact the Leafs have had on the Bruins successes, and the Bruins have had on the Leafs’ failures.
And it all started with one goaltending swap in 2006…
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