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Has there ever been a bigger late-season collapse than this Leafs one?

Mar 30, 2012, 1:30 PM EDT

Always next year Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs were embarrassed again last night. A 7-1 home loss to the Flyers was just the latest dreadful performance in what’s been one of the most monumental late-season collapses in NHL history.

Since Feb. 6 – when the Leafs were 28-19-6 and on the way to their first playoff appearance since 2003 – they’ve gone 5-17-3 without a single victory at the Air Canada Centre.

They haven’t just lost games either — they’ve lost them spectacularly. Five of them by four goals or more. One 8-0.

“It doesn’t get much more embarrassing than that,” Leafs defenseman Cody Franson said after last night’s 7-1 defeat. “It’s one of those situations right now where it seems like no matter what we try to do it’s just not working. We’re having a tough time getting through it right now.”

There have been similar, and arguably worse, collapses in other sports. The 2011 Red Sox lost 18 of their final 24 to blow a nine-game lead over the Rays, topping it off with a blown save in the final game of the season. The 2007 Mets blew a seven-game lead with 17 games left. The 1993 Dolphins started 9-2 and finished 0-5 to miss the playoffs.

But what about NHL late-season collapses that resulted in teams missing the playoffs? The 2006-07 Oilers were 28-24-4 on Feb. 11 and went 4-19-3 down the stretch, but they didn’t fall out of a playoff spot. The 2002-03 Penguins fell apart, but their fall started in January, so calling it a “late-season” collapse is a bit of a stretch.

Anyway, if any of you can think of (or Google) something, please share it in the comments section. Maybe we’re missing an obvious one.

  1. habsman - Mar 30, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    Nothing wrong here, this Brian Burke built team will be fine once they get a chance to “gel.”

  2. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 30, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    Habsman trolling as usual. I still think one season isn’t enough to write this team off completely. Sure it needs work but it’s not a total teardown.

    That being said, you should see the front page of today’s Sun. I’d send you the pic if I knew how.

    • Jason Brough - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:24 PM

      • govtminion - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:26 PM

        Ow. Blue and White Disease indeed…

    • lolnowhy - Mar 30, 2012 at 10:42 PM

      no, you’re right, one season isn’t enough

      but 4 is

  3. bcisleman - Mar 30, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    Doesn’t seem that big to me. Part of it is that I never thought they were as good as their record to begin with. They have a good top line and a few good defensemen but little else. With weak goaltending, their playoff bid was a house of cards that fell apart with a few key injuries. They have some talent in the system that will improve their depth, but they really need a new GM who can rebuild the team the right way. Fact is, they are really in the same situation as the Habs but the first half of the season deluded their fans into thinking they were a contender.

  4. phillyphever - Mar 30, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    IDK, Minnesota’s collapse looks worse than Toronto’s.

    • iamanidiotfan - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:19 PM

      I was thinking that myself. League-leading Minnesota Wild and now the Oilers (!!) have a chance to pass them in the standings.

      • gbiscottagecheesefatties - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:37 PM

        As a Wild fan I will say this season sucks but was predictable. Did anyone think it was gonna last (thier first place campaign) and then add up all of their injuries (an unreal stat in itself) and boom, down the standings they go.

        it’s hard to be a playoff team when you can’t score more than 2 goals a night. Just saying…

        both are embarrassing and neither want to be crowned but I would say expectations at the beginning of the season were higher for the leafs, than Wild.

      • iamanidiotfan - Mar 30, 2012 at 8:46 PM

        When I saw that Brodziak, a guy who couldn’t even play regularly for the Oilers, was leading the team in scoring, I knew it wouldn’t end well.

        But on the plus side, I was looking at the recent Prospects magazine, and the second-ranked prospect outside of the NHL is a Wild prospect. Might lead to more scoring.

  5. leepetertk - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    Don’t think Burke can admit the wrongs of his regime and remake his team through the draft. I expect him to wheel and deal in the summer in an effort to retool the team. If it works and the Leafs make the playoffs next year, we won’t hear the end of it. If it doesn’t (more likely scenario) he will go up in flames.

    Maybe Burkie has more in common with Don Cherry than he thinks.

    • gbiscottagecheesefatties - Mar 30, 2012 at 6:18 PM

      Burke will draft Grigorenko or Galchenyuk if given the chance, I don’t see him trading the pick (if that’s what you mean by wheeling and deeling)

  6. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    @bcisleman – we never thought they were contenders, we thought they were a low seed playoff team. Their top 2 lines are good but they need to shore up the D and find some solid goaltending.

  7. dallasstars9 - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    The San Jose Sharks…………….. every year is a collapse!

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:45 PM

      But at least they usually wait until they get into the playoffs.

  8. cup0pizza - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    1951 Dodgers. Very bad collapse. In reference to hockey, though, this Leafs collapse is severe, even though they really weren’t going to go anywhere, anyway. The Stars had a pretty frustrating collapse last season, but it wasn’t near the magnitude and they weren’t going to make much noise in the postseason had they made it.

    • dallasstars9 - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:21 PM

      As far as baseball goes, does anything compare to last years Boston Red Sox?

      • govtminion - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:33 PM

        There’s also the 2007 Mets. Comfortably in a postseason berth in mid-August, complete collapse (coinciding with the Rockies forgetting how to lose games) to cause them to miss it completely.

      • phillyphever - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:53 PM

        Sigh, 1964 Phillies.

  9. stevedubs11 - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    in comparison to the red sox collapse last year, look back at the “greatest night in baseball” last year when the Atlanta braves finished their collapsing season with a loss to the phillies that let the STL Cardinals go on to make the playoffs to win the WS. remember the 11.5 games behind thing the cardinals were in?

  10. hazlydose - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    Maybe the pens when they threw 18 out of their last 21 in order to get Lemieux

  11. Quisp - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:38 PM

  12. kitshky - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    Someone should check the ACC locker room for fried chicken and beer…

    • govtminion - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:10 PM

      It’s clear, the Red Sox pitchers already cleaned them out for their clubhouse.

  13. hooockey - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:27 PM

    No no no. You all have it wrong.

    Did anyone follow the link to the Toronto Sun cover? Notice that Burke’s tie is untied, draped over his shoulders? Well, to those that don’t know, this proves that Burkey works twice as hard as the next GM. All this extra work by Burke will pay off big time next year! You can’t undervalue how hard “man with untied tie” works.

    In other news, 2012-13 is the year that Charlie Brown finally kicks Lucy’s football.

    • phillyphever - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:37 PM


  14. pastabelly - Mar 30, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    So what you’re saying is no more beer & fried chicken in the Leafs clubhouse next season.

  15. drewsylvania - Mar 30, 2012 at 9:39 PM

    Not even the worst this season.

  16. Buffalo Grumblings - Apr 1, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    They’ve been collapsing since ’67 when Punch was behind the bench

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