It speaks volumes about the churn of careers in the NHL that Christian Hanson was in the Leafs room talking about his first NHL goal Wednesday ('I'm already tied with my Dad') while Brad May was discussing his 1,000th game.
Tonight's going to be extra special. It's more of a tribute to my family and everybody who supported me along the way - Brad May
That comes against the Buffalo Sabres at Air Canada Centre and May, true to his creed, was late getting back into the room. A healthy scratch from the night before in New Jersey, he had to make sure he still had his game edge and spent half an hour lingering with Luke Schenn
, Jay Harrison and Martin Gerber who gives way to Curtis Joseph against the Sabres.
"Tonight's going to be extra special," May said. "It's more of a tribute to my family and everybody who supported me along the way."
In seventeen seasons, May has played with the Sabres for nearly seven years then Vancouver, Phoenix, Vancouver again, Colorado, Anaheim and for 36 games this season, the Leafs.
He's from Markham and with a game against the Sabres that will be attended by his wife and kids (jetting in from California), his siblings and parents, he'll have plenty of witnesses.
Unlike the gaudy ceremonies that celebrated Tie Domi's 1000th game, May's thing promises to be a low-key affair. Truth be told, May has never been much of a goalscorer. His most famous marker, a playoff shot that did in the Bruins, was immortalized by the 'May-Day, May-Day' call of the Buffalo announcer Rick Jeanneret. The great Jeanneret will be in the house, perhaps willing to give a reprise. He is a friend of May's. Pretty well everybody is.
"I tell people that Alexander Mogilny scored 76 goals that year and two in that game to get us to that point," May said.
It was 1993. The great Mogilny packed it in three years ago because of a bad hip. Mogilny’s centreman, the gifted Pat LaFontaine, has been gone 11. Concussions. May has endured four serious shoulder operations and seen a post-season ended by a knee injury. It hasn’t been an easy road.
Mostly, May's career has been a testimony to keeping on. He hasn't hit double figures in goalscoring for six years. Increasingly, his job has shifted from on to off-ice presence, May was always a willing if undersized scrapper. What he is, and has always been is a terrific teammate. Needing more internal leadership, the Leafs brought him in.
"I've had to see myself in different roles and the pecking order within a team changes," he said. "You've got to know your place and be true to yourself but really, it’s so easy to be a hockey player."