"The Leafs Have Tied the Game!"

It’s been ten years since one of my worst nights as a sports fan. Worst…and also best. On May 28, 2002, Cousin Cam and I were in the last row of the purples at the Air Canada Centre when Mats Sundin scored a goal that sent Leafs Nation into paroxysms of joy.

I’d gotten tickets that morning while haphazardly hitting “refresh” on Ticketmaster. Alas, Sundin’s goal merely forced overtime, which ended–suddenly, horrifically, and right below where we were sitting–when Martin Gelinas scored to put the Carolina Hurricanes into the Stanley Cup Final. The ecstasy and the agony, to distort Irving Stone: we stared slack-jawed and silent at the handshake line, meekly applauded the Leafs as they skated off the ice, and watched Ron Francis hoist the Prince of Wales Trophy before wandering, dazed, into a warm Toronto night (I wore shorts to this game). And it was still worth it for Sundin’s goal, which inspired one of the all-time great calls from the incomparable Joe Bowen. I wish everyone who cared about sports as much as me could have at least one occasion like this in their lives–no matter what happened afterwards.


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