The most heated rivalry in Canadian sports history are getting ready to write its next chapter tonight. The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens are set to take the ice in their first playoff matchup in 42 years.
This past NHL season, not unlike other sports, was structured completely different than in past years. Instead of having to travel across the border for games against American franchises, the Canadian squads were placed in a division of their own – the Northern Division.
This led to 10 regular season matchups between the storied rivals, with the Leafs taking 7 wins off the Habs. Toronto ended the season in first place in the division, and Montreal finished in fourth.
“We’re a much bigger team, we’re a much more experienced team, we’re a much more confident team,” said Sheldon Keefe, Toronto coach. Trash talk between the two squads will only be the start of what is destined to be a hot-blooded series.
The long-standing history between the two teams, the two cities, is one that not many rivalries in major North American sports can boast. The hot-blooded hate between these squads go back more than a hundred years, with the first game between the Original Six squads taking place in 1917.
The aggressive nature of this rivalry isn’t being overlooked by Canadiens interim coach Dominique Ducharme. The bench leader made the decision to sit the Habs younger players in favour of the more experienced heavy-hitters Montreal has to offer.
With a series as storied as this one, the disdain between the two teams will be front-page news. And though the rivalry has been dormant in a playoff setting for 42 years, now is the perfect time to reignite it.
SOURCES: ESPN.COM, SPORTSNET.CA, TSN.CA, THEATHLETIC.COM