It was a bitter end for the Atlantic Division champions but not unexpected, given the feeble way in which they finished the regular season and the team's mounting dissension. That dissension bubbled over midway through the second period of Game 4 when goalie Roman Cechmanek skated out of his crease after allowing a goal and yelled at the players on his bench for not giving him more support. Cechmanek was hooked between periods and didn't play again in the series. At practice the next day, several teammates fired shots toward his head during drills.
The Fryers scored just two goals in the series against Ottawa, and their playoff streak of 320 minutes, 36 seconds without a regulation goal (dating back to last season and ending last Friday) set an NHL record for futility. Given the club's $55 million payroll, changes are imminent.
The first casualty could be coach Bill Barber, whose leadership was privately questioned by his players as the regular season wound down and whose inability to kickstart a woeful power play was symptomatic of his failing to wring the best from his players. Said captain Keith Primeau, "We're not sure what to expect, or where the blame will be placed."
Seems as if there's plenty of blame to go around.
Pat Quinn's Lineup Follies
Missing a Leaf In Toronto
Because of embarrassing errors by general manager- coach Pat Quinn, the Maple Leafs played Games 4 and 5 of their series against the Islanders with 19 skaters instead of 20. After warmups for Game 4 on April 24, center Mats Sundin said he couldn't play because the broken left wrist he suffered in Game 1 was too sore. Though Sundin had played in Games 2 and 3, Quinn had been negligent in not calling up a player from the minors as a standby, and thus the Toronto bench was a player short.
"The last time I checked," Leafs forward Alexander Mogilny said with disdain after the 4-3 loss, "you have to have [extra] people anytime someone's not available."
Two minor league players were summoned in time for Game 5, but that didn't prevent another screwup. The Leafs' lineup card submitted before that game—cards are filled out by each team's coaching staff and given to the officials and the opposing bench—listed wing Mikael Renberg as a scratch and wearing number 21. But that number belongs to center Robert Reichel (Renberg wears number 19), and 19 seconds into the match the New York coaching staff pointed out the discrepancy to referee Paul Devorski, who correctly disqualified Reichel and sent him to the dressing room.
While not saying who filled out the card, Quinn at least took responsibility—and his players got him off the hook by winning 6-3.