I have never seen Craig Button as irate as he was following the Toronto Maple Leafs loss to a zamboni driver in their own building. The evisceration he bestowed upon the Buds was harsh enough to scare any last bits of hope out of the Toronto faithful.
And he was entitled to every word of the rant.
After both of the Carolina goalies were injured, it was 42-year old David Ayres to the rescue. The operations manager for the Mattamy Athletic Centre took the ice wearing the number 90 in red on his back, while his pads were trimmed with blue and his mask dawned the Marlies’ crest. It was quite the conflicting sight to say the least. Top that off with the fact that his NHL debut opened with him heading towards the wrong net, and you had what appeared to be a recipe for disaster if you’re a Carolina fan.
Even though he let in two softies mere minutes after getting into action, Ayres only seemed to grow in confidence, as did his teammates. The ‘Canes rattled off a couple more goals and Ayres stopped the next 8 shots he faced to earn himself the win, the first-star of the game, and what one can only suspect would be a sizable bonus on the $500 contract he signed minutes before lacing them up.
What followed his post-game celly was nothing short of a whirlwind. From appearing on Late Night with Steven Colbert, to being granted an honorary citizenship in North Carolina, and, the piece de resistance for any Canadian, getting an invite to TSN’s Trade Centre panel alongside James Duthie.
As victorious as Ayres was, the Leafs were every bit the loser. Considering they are desperately clinging to a playoff spot, one would expect them to have seized the shooting star that this game presented to them. However, despite their bonafide all-star lineup (hello Marner, Matthews, and Tavares) the Leafs look every bit the pretenders analysts feared they might become.
Originally Published in Bandersnatch Vol.49 Issue 10 on February 26th, 2020