The Toronto Maple Leafs were finally able to exercise some demons this spring, winning a postseason series for the first time since 2004 by taking down their rival Tampa Bay Lightning in six games. The series was marred by a few violent incidents that resulted in suspensions on both ends, including now-former Leafs forward Michael Bunting being banned for three games while Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev was suspended for a pair of games for his hit on Mitch Marner.
But the series came to an end after Leafs captain John Tavares' wraparound shot made its way past a bewildered Andrei Vasilevskiy in overtime of Game 6, ensuring that there would be no second straight postseason comeback by the Bolts.
Sergachev made the decision to give the Leafs some prime bulletin board material by implying that they didn't deserve to win the series, though he would later attempt to clarify those comments. But now, he's right back at it again by saying that they can't stand the thought of being the team that Toronto finally beat in the postseason.
"Yeah, obviously we're pissed off. We don't want to lose. We don't want to be the team that Toronto finally got to the second round, and they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning. They didn't go through the second round. But we didn't want to be that and lose to them," Sergachev said. "In my head, we should've won the Cup."
The Lightning that hit the ice this fall are going to look different than the team that skated off in defeat at Amalie Arena after Tavares' overtime goal; gone are the likes of Alex Killorn, Corey Perry, Pierre-Édouard Bellemare, Pat Maroon and Ross Colton. But in Sergachev's mind, that doesn't mean that the players who remain on the team from last year aren't still "pissed off".
"We'll see when camp starts how pissed off we are. The guys are very competitive even now. Usually, before camp, we skate [together]. We'll do five drills and play a game. Usually, it's like beer-league hockey. Now, it's intense. Some hitting, too. It's great. Competitive. No one is going to let me walk them on the blue line. It's not acceptable anymore."
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