"It certainly was a burst of energy—it came all at once,” said Dominic Moore. “It seemed like it must have been pent up. With the fans, as well, they sort of released their (energy) all together.”
“I just fist-pumped as many times as I could,” said Mitchell.
2 -- The second day of the month was Luke Schenn's 19th birthday, which from now on will be known as "Luke Schenn Day" across LeafNation. Unfortunately, the Leafs lose in Carolina, 6-4. Ian White makes his season debut, scoring a goal and showing off a new 'stache as well.
3 -- Spent the day recovering from Luke Schenn's karaoke party. Realized Ian White's mustache wasn't a dream. The Wendel Countdown begins.
4 -- Another loss to Carolina, this one in overtime. The news isn't all bad though, as the Leafs had clawed their way back from a 4-1 deficit to steal a point, and Grabovski, with a 3-point night begins to emerge as an offensive threat.
8 -- Leafs win on home ice, a very enjoyable 6-3 romp over the Montreal Canadians. Grabovski shines and gets under the Habs' skin, making him an instant fan favorite. After the game, Carbonneau gives us this delicious quote: "It was the most embarrassing game I've ever been associated with". Yes! That's exactly how I want every Hab to feel after every game with the Leafs. The victory was not without a cost, however, as Van Ryn was the victim of a nasty hit from behind, receiving a concussion, a broken hand, and needing dental surgery to repair his gums and teeth.
9 -- Leaf fans vent their frustration over the Kostopoulos hit. The NHL reviews the incident.
10 -- The NHL suspends Kostoploulos for 3 games. The Habs have a good laugh and realize that losing is sometimes winning. "How could we forget, eh? De' Laffs always get screwed in de' end!"
11 -- Remembrance Day. The Leafs hit the road for 3 games in Western Canada. Their first stop is Calgary, where they lose, 4-3. Jason Blake is a healthy scratch, causing him to wonder about his purpose in life: "Maybe it's not meant for me to be here". At the same time, Sundin sells his house.
12 -- The 77th anniversary of the first game at Maple Leaf Gardens passes quietly. Brian Burke resigns from the Ducks, not so quietly.
13 -- The second game of this western road trip has a better result. Leafs win, 5-2 over the Oilers. Blake responds with his best game of the season, registering two assists in the 3rd period.
Meanwhile, Kaberle, who had a goal and 2 assists on the night, passes Ian Turnbull for 3rd all-time in scoring by a Leaf defenceman.
14 -- Nothing much happens with the Leafs as they prepare for their game against Vancouver by smoking lots of dope. Barry Melrose is fired, and the NHL investigates ballot-stuffing in Montreal.
15 -- The Leafs lose to Vancouver, 4-2. With the Leafs outshooting the Canucks 10-0, our favorite boy by the pool, Kyle Wellwood, scores on Vancouver's first shot, and that was pretty much all she wrote. Toskala, embarrassingly juxtaposed to Loungo, begins to lose his charm with Leaf fans.
16 -- The Leafs lick their wounds and fly home after collecting only 2 points through Western Canada. Kyle Wellwood enjoys the best Sunday afternoon he's had in months.
17 -- Doug Gilmour is announced as the new head coach in Kingston. In Toronto, the Leafs lose 3-2 to the hungry Boston Bruins, as Vesa Toskala continues to hurt the Leafs by allowing early goals. Goaltending suddenly becomes an issue, as quickly and as smoothly as an .878 save percentage becoming a knock-knock joke.
18 -- The Leafs begin a mini-vacation. Toskala is officially on the hotseat.
19 -- With just three days to go until Wendel Night, anticipation begins to build. The Leafs lie low by practicing indoors.
20 -- Only 2 more sleepless nights until Wendel Night.
22 -- The Leafs finally honour Wendel Clark in a classy and compelling ceremony. John Mitchell returns to the line-up. Sadly, the home team plays well for just two periods, allowing the Black Hawks to come back from a 2-goal deficit in the 3rd to win in overtime. Jeff Finger has his worst game as a Maple Leaf. There's even more bad news for the Leafs as Jonas Frogren, the Hockey Viking that Leaf fans were hoping to see more often, injures his arm with a muscle tear and will be out for several weeks.
24 -- MONSTER TRADE!! Okay, maybe exaggerating just slightly, but still it's exciting to see Cliff pulling the trigger again. Neither Steen nor Colaiacovo were terribly disliked, but they were both seen as spare parts, while Stempniak appears to have the tools that the Leafs can benefit from right away. While Burke is less then a week away from joining the team, the Silver Fox makes a dramatic exit by momentarily stealing the spotlight.
25 -- The Leafs play possibly their worst game of the year, a 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers. With Frogren and Van Ryn both hurt, and Colaiacovo traded, Ian White is forced back to the blue line and scraps with Ilya Kovalchuk. Joseph starts and has a terrible night. Blake is injured with a suspected concussion. About the only positive for the Leafs is Stempniak's debut, picking up an assist.
26 -- Despite the effort of Mayers, Hollweg, and, er, Ian White, the Leafs are criticized for a lack muscle. Looking to add some toughness, the Leafs call up the best player in their system born in Free Port, Bahamas, Andre Deveaux. Meanwhile, Dominic Moore shows Jeff Finger what he's gonna do the next time he sees Jason Smith.
27 -- The Battle of Ontario resumes, this time in the Nation's Capital, sort of - actually, it's off the 417 as you're going through Kanata, but that's "sort of" enough for the city that was once technically beautiful. The Leafs losing streak reaches 5 games with a shoot out-loss, but it's a moral victory for The Vesa who looks better and better as the game goes on. Deveaux has a solid debut, and Luke Schenn has one of his best games of the month.
28 -- The Brian Burke (here it comes) Era - wait for it - officially begins - wait! - right about..... NOW!
29 -- Leafs win! The Leafs close out the month with a victory over Philadelphia. Toskala is again outstanding and Stempniak records his first goal as a Leaf. Moore, Antropov, Schenn, and Deveaux all have strong games, and the entire team plays well in front of their new GM. A positive start for Burke and a positive finish to November for the Leafs who struggled throughout the month.
30 -- The month ends on a Sunday. The Leafs have 22 points after 23 games and sit tied for 10th in the east with the NYIslanders - 4 points out of a playoff spot, 4 points out of dead last in the league. Newspapers report that Brian Burke believes Mats Sundin is not interested in returning to Toronto. No one seems to mind. Despite the obvious need for a top line centre, despite the need for veteran leadership, despite the fact that this team is already better then last year's team and that the playoffs are just a short win-streak away, and despite the fact that Sundin is the type of player who truly believes that all 16 playoff teams have an equal opportunity once the playoffs begin, and despite his obvious loyalty and attachment to the uniform and to the city, and despite all the things he said about never wanting to be a rental player, (deep breath!) despite all that, Brian Burke, based on a conversation he had with Sundin while he was GM with the Ducks, feels that the Captain's ship has finally sailed from Toronto and it ain't coming back. A 4-6-3 record through November is obviously not enough to convince number 13 that the Leafs are a playoff contender.
The end of an era. The beginning of another.
November goes out the way it began; with some terrific optimism and hope, but also, uncertainty. The middle part was kinda murky, but the tribute to Wendel kept our spirits up and we survived. Finally, at 11:59pm, in the dramatic final minute, I posted The November Review, and the month was over.