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The Official Site of the Toronto Maple Leafs

A Player Diary ... With Joe Nieuwendyk

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Joe joined the Leafs as a home-town boy who's seen success everywhere he's played. Throughout this season Joe kept you up to date with his periodic player diaries. This is the final entry of the 2003/04 season.

-- Maple Leafs Centreman
May 7, 2004

I have nothing but great memories, and great things to say, about the city, the organization, my team, and the fans. Its been a great experience for me having grown up in Southern Ontario, playing 17 years away from Toronto, but coming back here this year I couldn't have imagined it any better than ultimately winning.

(Dave Sandford/Getty Images/NHLI)

It was a hard-fought season, no question, and it came down to the last week to figure out we were all going to be playing Ottawa our provincial rival. It was a really good series. They're a good team. It became a battle of wills and we outlasted them in Game 7.

I think the last game of the season, when we won 6-0 in Ottawa was really a big factor because our fans were so terrific for us and that really helped us in Game 7.

It was a close series with Philly, I mean we lost in overtime in Game 6 and who knows what happens in Game 7 if we go back there.

But it goes to show you how there's such a fine line between winning and losing. The way they came out hard and the way we didn't respond in Game 5 was maybe the most crtical part of the series, but that's something that our team has to realize and do better at. Those types of situations make sure that we're ready for that type of challenge.

They call for change every year. But, when you're one of the last six teams remaining in a 30-team league, I think you're doing something right. I think our team did some incredible things this year. The most points in franchise history, there's a lot of things that were accomplished this year and I know we have some older players and those changes will be made, but certainly you don't 'fire sale' a team that finished one of the remaining six.

The older you get the more you start to think about what lies ahead and I love the game and the experience here. I'm not hinting at anything because I can go pick up and play the game tomorrow. I love the game so much. I think when you get older you really start to think about taking time to reflect where you want to go, but certainly, I love to play here.

Thanks so much for a great season in Toronto and I hope to see you next year.

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