(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is part 2 of 10 in a series on rivalries. Red Wings 101 will count down the top ten current rivals of the Detroit Red Wings. Fans are encouraged to comment with memories from past games that they may have seen in the past.)
Checking in at number 9 on our list…
No. 9: Toronto Maple Leafs.
The "Battle of the Windsor Corridor" is another Original Six rivalry that goes back to the 1920's. Aside from Montreal, the Maple Leafs are the only other NHL team to win more Stanley Cups than the Red Wings (12). The two have also met 23 times in the playoffs, including six times for the Stanley Cup. The Leafs won all six of those series, including an epic comeback from a 3-games-to-none deficit to win the Stanley Cup in the 1942 Stanley Cup Finals. It was the first time that such a comeback had ever happened in a best-of-7 series. Only the 1975 New York Islanders (vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins in the conference quarterfinals) and the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers (vs. the Boston Bruins in the conference semifinals) have accomplished such a feat.
The rivalry was known as one of the most intense in the NHL, with both teams separated by 240 miles of Highway 401 in Canada, and a few miles of I-75 and the Ambassador Bridge in the United States. The number of shared fans in Southwestern Ontario also added intensity. When the Leafs moved to the Eastern Conference in 1998, the only intensity that remained was the occasional fist fight in the stands at Joe Louis Arena or Air Canada Centre. Both teams were scheduled to play in the 2013 NHL Winter Classic, but that may not happen until 2014 due to the NHL lockout.
DEFINING MOMENT: The rivalry reached its peak during the 1950 playoffs. During a game in the semifinals, Detroit's Gordie Howe missed a check on Toronto's Ted Kennedy, and crashed head-first into the boards. Howe nearly lost his life, but emergency surgery saved him and his career. While the NHL said that there was no foul play on Kennedy's part, Detroit management and fans maintained that Kennedy was guilty of blatantly injuring Howe. The playoff series, which the Red Wings won, ended up being a violent one of sorts. Adding to the fire was that the Stanley Cup Finals were also played at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens when the New York Rangers did not have access to Madison Square Gardens due to the circus being in town. The Red Wings would go on to win the Stanley Cup that year in seven games.
A more recent incident occurred in a game during the 2010-11 season, when Toronto forward Joffery Lupul interfered with Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard, resulting in a dislocated shoulder for Howard. Lupul was never penalized for the incident..
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