What do the playoffs mean to you?
Having grown up only able to attend a single Leafs game, I was never able to witness a victory (or loss for that matter) live during their runs to the conference finals and semi-finals through the 90’s and the season’s prior to the lockout.
From a Marlies perspective, the club last made the post-season in 2009 – my first year following the club – where as the division’s bottom seed they played first-placed Manitoba, a series they’d lose in six games.
So if I were to be asked what playoff hockey means to me, I’d respond with a single word.
A 76 game season, 39 I will have been privileged enough to watch live including Boxing Day at ACC and outdoors at Ivor Wynne Stadium, is not enough hockey for this fellow. It is not nearly enough puck drops, no where close to the right amount of body checks or breakaway goals. I haven’t seen Nazem Kadri dangle defenders even close to the right amount of times, nor have I watched on as Greg Scott and Jerry D’Amigo rush down ice shorthanded as much as I hope to.
I have not had that chill go down my spine as members of a team describe their elation of heading to the post season. I have not held the microphone as coach Dallas Eakins completes the regular season knowing that he’ll be back at practice the next day.
Tonight, with Rochester’s loss to Abbotsford, the Toronto Marlies clinched the North division title. The club will not only receive a ticket to the ball, they’ll also be granted home ice advantage in the opening round.
Listed on the team’s Clear Day Roster, the likes of Jake Gardiner, Matt Frattin, Joe Colborne, Jay Rosehill and Ben Scrivens will be set to rejoin the club for the post-season after their time with the Maple Leafs is complete. Rosehill is the only of the five to dress in a professional playoff game.
They will join Kadri, Mike Zigomanis, Korbinian Holzer, Ryan Hamilton, Scott, D’Amigo and a laundry list of others who have had standout seasons with the Marlies.
The playoffs have returned.