Since the infamous lockout, one of the NHL’s greatest rivalries has indeed lost its edge.
For years, the battle of Ontario filled up bars across the province; it was the marque matchup on Hockey Night in Canada. Whenever these two teams crossed paths, it was an all-out war that created a playoff vibe in both ScotiaBank Place and the Air Canada Centre.
Unfortunately, it has all disappeared.
The days of Mats Sundin, Tie Domi, Gary Roberts, Curtis Joseph, Wade Redden, Rob Ray, Zdeno Chara and Patrick Lalime are gone. The “glory days” are all but over.
Both teams were victims of the new NHL, leading to massive overhauls. Besides all the roster and personnel changes, the two new faces rejuvenating the battle of Ontario have a history with each other.
Murray began Anaheim’s transition from laughingstock of the NHL to league champions. Following a trip to the Stanley Cup final, Murray left Anaheim for a chance to move home and coach the Senators. His departure sparked Brian Burke’s reign as head of the Ducks.
Many fans and critics believe Burke rode the coattails of Murray to his success in California. In 2007, Murray and Burke met in the Stanley Cup finals. The Senators would eventually lose in five games, leading many to believe that Murray lost to the team he helped build.
Anaheim’s winning team was based on his blueprint, Burke just added the final pieces—Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger and Teemu Selanne. Niedermayer was one of Burke’s biggest acquisitions while in Anaheim, all because of Murray. Niedermayer signed with the Ducks in 2005 for a chance to play with his brother Rob, whom Murray acquired in 2003.
Fast forward five years and they’re at it again.
Both Burke and Murray are the lead architects for two teams trying to rejoin the league’s elite. For the first time in seven years, Toronto is in the middle of the playoff race in the East. What’s even more surprising is the Senators' situation—somehow Ottawa has completely bypassed a rebuilding year to become a potential contender, once again.
Tuesday’s game between the two teams could have potential playoff implications, something fans haven’t seen in years.
The turnaround trend both teams are experiencing is good for the organizations. Fans are being reminded of the good days when their beloved teams would square off in the playoffs.
What once was a thought of the past, could possibly happen again.
And whether they like it or not, the 2 Bs—Brian and Bryan—are a new subplot for the Battle of Ontario.