Remembering '93, when the Maple Leafs stunned the Red Wings
Tony Bock / Toronto Star / Getty

It's been a long, long, very long time since the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs played a game that mattered. More than 23 years, in fact.

It was on the night of May 5, 1993 when Toronto ended what was, until then, the greatest Red Wings season of all time - a 103-point, .613-winning percentage campaign - in overtime of Game 7. And it was shocking.

Steve Yzerman's 137-point regular season was over after one playoff round. And it cast serious doubt over whether he could lead Detroit where it wanted to go.


Toronto was no slouch. The Maple Leafs finished with 99 points, and were led by Doug Gilmour, who set Toronto's single-season record for points with 127. Nikolai Borschevsky, an overaged rookie out of Russia, had 34 goals and 74 points. Glenn Anderson was third on the team in scoring, Dave Andreychuk arrived before the trade deadline, Wendel Clark was the team's heart and soul, and Felix Potvin, only 21, also a rookie, was the kid in goal.

Toronto dropped the first two games of the opening-round series in Detroit, thoroughly outmatched by a combined 12-5. It was loud at Joe Louis Arena. Intimidating. Toronto, which came out of nowhere with Pat Burns behind the bench, seemed destined to lose the series - and fast - before it could figure out how to win in its current incarnation.

A different Maple Leafs team showed up at home, however. Toronto, host to playoff hockey once again, was buzzing. The atmosphere at Maple Leaf Gardens was electric. And after being lit up in Games 1 and 2, Toronto allowed only four goals across the next two - Potvin was stellar - and, somehow, the series was tied 2-2 heading back to Detroit.

Best of 3

Maple Leafs supporters of a certain generation can still hear Joe Bowen screaming "Michael Foligno!" They can still see Foligno leaping - twice - in customary fashion after his overtime winner gave Toronto a 5-4 comeback win, in Detroit no less, and a 3-2 series lead.

Toronto was outshot 30-21. The Maple Leafs trailed 4-1 at one point in Game 5. Yeah.

Game 7

Detroit wasn't going out like that. It dominated Game 6 in Toronto. Dino Ciccarelli had a hat trick, Yzerman a goal and an assist, Sergei Fedorov two assists, and Paul Coffey a goal and three assists. Back to Detroit.

Late in the third period of Game 7, the Maple Leafs trailed 3-2. Clark chased down a loose puck in the corner behind the goal line in Detroit's zone, to Red Wings goalie Tim Cheveldae's right, and threw it out front. Cheveldae redirected the puck with his stick into the slot - right to Gilmour. Tie game, 3-3, with 2:43 to go.

That set up the heroics of Gilmour, Bob Rouse, and Borschevsky.

A dump-in by Rouse ended up on Gilmour's stick. From the slot, he fed Rouse at the top of the right circle. Rouse, a stay-at-home defenseman, fired a slap-pass on the ice to the top of the crease, where Borschevsky tipped the puck into the empty net; 4-3 Toronto, in Game 7, and in the series.

Toronto went crazy. That same group of Maple Leafs supporters who can still see, when they close their eyes, Foligno leaping, can still see general manager Cliff Fletcher losing it in the Toronto press box, and can still see team trainer Chris Broadhurst spraying a bottle of water onto the ice in celebration. The Maple Leafs had done the impossible.

Gilmour finished with a goal and three assists that night. It was one of the most incredible playoff appearances by a Maple Leaf.

Nik the Stick

After the game, Borschevsky, who couldn't speak much English, put it perfectly when asked how he felt.

"Oh, unbelievable."

He spoke for every single Maple Leafs fan on the planet that night.

It's been a long time, too long, but we're due for another Red Wings-Maple Leafs playoff series. It would be something else, like it was in 1993.

Remembering '93, when the Maple Leafs stunned the Red Wings
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