by Gord Stellick
The next Leaf playoff heroe was Jim Harrison, who was the Leafs third-line center behind Keon and Norm Ullman. He notched the OT winner in a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins in 1972. Even though the Leafs lost the quarter-final series, his goal was no less important.
Three years later it would be little known Blame Stoughton scoring the OT winner against the Los Angeles Kings. It tied the best-of-three preliminary-round series at one game apiece. The Leafs would later win the series. It was their first series victory since hoisting the Stanley Cup eight years earlier. Stoughton would be the Leafs' leading playoff scorer with six points (4 goals, 2 assists) in seven playoff games.
While the 1980's decade provided little in the way of playoff action and thus few memories, one does involve one of my all-time favorite players to pull on the Leafs sweater. Mike Allison was a class act, who had a brief career with the Leafs. In fact Allison recorded just seven goals in 86 regular season games with the Leafs.
But in the 1987 playoffs, he finished second on the team in playoff scoring and scored the most memorable OT playoff goal of the decade against the Detroit Red Wings. It gave the Leafs a 3-1 lead over Detroit in their quarter-final series. Unfortunately, the Red Wings came back to win the next three straight leaving the Allison's goal as the only positive playoff memory during a futile stretch.
The great playoff run in 1993 featured unsung hero Nikolai Borschevsky, who scored the overtime winner to beat Detroit in the Game Seven of their Conference quarter-finals. Six years later it was Garry Valk, not exactly known for his scoring prowess, netting the OT winner to eliminate the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1999 Conference semi-final.
Last season, Shayne Corson's play against Alexei Yashin of the Ottawa Senators was the most pleasant Maple Leaf surprise of the 2001 Playoffs. For this spring to be successful, another unsung hero too will have to emerge for the Leafs to bring home a Stanley Cup.
Will this happen? Stay Tuned!