The Toronto Maple Leafs know just how fragile a season can be. The Maple Leafs missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a second-straight season, falling just one point short of the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference.
Clearly, health issues played a huge part in Toronto’s failure. Darcy Tucker, Kyle Wellwood and Mike Peca all missed significant time because of injury. But injuries cannot be an excuse in a physical sport such as hockey. So, Leafs General Manager John Ferguson Jr., has spent much of the summer addressing the depth of his team. He added a potential No. 1 goalie in Vesa Toskala, a 40-goal scorer in Jason Blake, a potential second-line winger in Mark Bell and goalie depth in Scott Clemmensen.
Those additions, especially Blake and Toskala, will have a huge impact on the 2007-08 season and will hopefully translate into the one point in the standings that Maple Leaf nation obsessed about all summer.
But make no mistake, it is the returning cast that will define the Maple Leafs’ season. Captain Mats Sundin is back for another year, signing a one-year deal. Defensemen Bryan McCabe, Pavel Kubina and Tomas Kaberle also will be looking to rebound with stronger performances this season. Goalie Andrew Raycroft, meanwhile, will be looking to hold onto the No. 1 job in the face of a stiff challenge from Toskala.
If you want to prove people wrong, you've just got to go out and do it. Yeah, we blew 3-2 series leads the last two years, but no one is going remember that if we go out there on Saturday night and beat these guys and go play in the Stanley Cup Final. We need to get back to work and we'll start to do that tomorrow.
— Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri following a loss to the Blackhawks in Game 6 on Wednesday