photo credit: John Tlumacki / Boston Globe staff

By: Mandi Mahoney | Check me out on twitter @phoneymahoney

When the Bruins traded goaltender Andrew Raycroft to the Toronto Maple Leafs thirteen years ago, nobody had any idea it would be the first significant event in a series of ridiculous trades and playoff series that would ignite a Boston-Toronto rivalry for the ages. For the last couple of years, Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri has shown that he is totally buying into this rivalry.


photo credit: BarDown staff / TSN

A condensed list of Boston and Toronto asset exchanges in recent years looks something like this:

  • Andrew Raycroft for Tuukka Rask. The Bruins intended to release Raycroft if they weren’t able to trade him. Turns out they were able to flip him for a franchise goaltender instead.
  • Phil Kessel didn’t like the idea of playing for Claude Julien or the Bruins anymore and was sent packing in exchange for the draft picks that would become Tyler Seguin, Jared Knight, and Dougie Hamilton (let’s not go there).
  • Prior to the trade deadline in 2011, the Bruins finally pulled the trigger on a long-awaited trade for Tomas Kaberle, a puck-moving defenseman Boston fans had been coveting for years. The Leafs received Joe Colborne, a first round pick, and a second round pick. Kaberle took approximately two shots on goal during that entire glorious Cup run. He might not have been the offensive dynamo that Bruins fans were looking for, but he did manage to make a lasting impression with this work of art:
  • The Bruins’ run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013 began with a game 7 win over Toronto, when the famous, “It was 4-1!” cry was coined.
  • Last season, the Bruins faced the Leafs in the first round once again, and while Toronto did not go down without a fight, the Bruins were the team that advanced to the second round. The series included Brad Marchand licking Leo Komarov, and Nazem Kadri being suspended three games for trying to take Tommy Wingels’ head off.

Fast-forward to this year, which may be the ugliest Boston and Toronto exchange yet: During game 1, Kadri made a late hit on left wing Jake DeBrusk behind the Bruins’ net, and, not to be outdone, included a bonus slewfoot. Kadri was not penalized. In the small world that is hockey Twitter, Maple Leafs fans are seemingly glossing over this fact after what happened in game 2. Jake DeBrusk has played a very gritty game up to this point in the series but hasn’t committed any blatantly dirty offenses (forgive our bias).

Saturday night in Boston, the Bruins started the second game of the series off with a bang – literally – as they were hitting everything that moved. One of these hits included Jake DeBrusk checking Kadri, who grabbed onto DeBrusk on the way down, and then threw a punch before they got up. Apparently, the part where Kadri punches DeBrusk was not televised in Canada and must be blacked out on every Twitter video north of the border, as Leafs fans could not understand why both players landed in the penalty box after DeBrusk retaliated. In typical dramatic Toronto fashion, Leafs Twitter has not been handling it well.

DeBrusk and Kadri had been targeting each other all night. In the third period, the pair collided when DeBrusk attempted to check Kadri with his shoulder. Instead of taking the hit, Kadri tried to dodge DeBrusk, and the two ended up making knee-on-knee contact. Kadri dropped to the ice as if he’d been shot by the man on the grassy knoll, rolled around, writhing in pain a la 2003 Mike Ribeiro, and then was miraculously healed once he realized his Oscar-worthy performance on this self-inflicted injury was not yielding a power play. Nobody is falling for it, Naz — sorry not sorry.

Here’s the hit in question:

It was a very bad hit, apparently. Horrific, even. Jake DeBrusk should probably just take his skates off and head directly to jail – do not pass go, do not collect $200. Twitter was, of course, incredibly entertaining, as Leafs fans and media were coming completely unhinged, while Bruins fans were getting saucy and picking fights. A good time was had by all.

After the unpenalized knee-on-knee incident, Kadri was frustrated, naturally. DeBrusk checked Patrick Marleau, and Kadri took exception by way of cross-checking DeBrusk in the face and then turtling when it was time to pay the piper, Zdeno Chara. Refs were not impressed with Kadri’s actions and assessed him a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct, both of which were well deserved. It was announced today that Kadri will have an in-person hearing this afternoon. In-person is generally not a good thing, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Kadri get suspended more than five games, given his history and what happened with Wingels the last time these two teams met in the postseason, and what in-person hearing generally signify.

Hopefully, DeBrusk is feeling good and is in the lineup on Patriots’ Day. Kadri, however, is his own worst enemy and likely will not be. It seems Leafs fans won’t be able to whine too much about Marchand being dirty these days. They no longer have a leg to stand on when it comes to that argument. Cross your fingers that there were no serious injuries and that the Department of Player Safety throws the book at Kadri, who shows no sign of learning from previous incidents.

Please enjoy the collection of tweets below – we know we did:

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