Two of Canada’s worst sports droughts live on (for now)
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Good news: the more famous one could end Saturday. Bad news: the other will drag on until at least next year. The gory details:
The Leafs’ playoff curse continues.
As you’ve surely heard many times, Toronto has not won a Stanley Cup in 56 years or even a playoff series in 19 years. Another fact: since their Game 7 victory over Ottawa in the first round in 2004, the Leafs have had 11 chances to close out a series. They’re now 0-for-11 in those games after losing another potential series clincher against the Tampa Bay Lightning last night.
The Leafs’ 11-game losing streak in potential closeout games is somehow not the worst in NHL history. That dishonour belongs to the Jets/Coyotes franchise, who dropped 13 straight during a quarter-century-long series victory drought that began in the 1988 playoffs and didn’t end until 2012.
Toronto will own a share of that ignominious record if it blows another series to Tampa Bay, which last year overcame a 3-2 deficit to deal the Leafs their eighth consecutive playoff-series loss dating back to 2004 — when Mats Sundin, Gary Roberts, Owen Nolan, Brian Leetch, Joe Nieuwendyk and Ed Belfour still roamed the earth. Game 6 goes Saturday at 7 p.m. ET in Tampa.
Not even Jennifer Jones could save Canada from another curling defeat.
The country that produces the vast majority of the world’s elite curlers has not won a major international title since 2018, when John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes captured Olympic gold in mixed doubles and Jones skipped her team to the women’s world title. And Canada has never won the mixed doubles world championship, held nearly every year since the inaugural event in 2008.
Both of those surprising dry spells looked like they could end this week after Canada sent a couple of rainmakers to the mixed doubles worlds in South Korea. Jennifer Jones and her husband, Brent Laing, are proven performers at the highest levels of the sport. She owns a record-tying six Scotties titles and has also skipped her four-person teams to a pair of world titles and an Olympic gold, while he’s won three Briers and three world titles as a second.
Jones and Laing started off great, mowing through the group stage with an 8-1 record to earn a first-round playoff bye and a spot in the semifinals. But their gold-medal bid ended today with a 6-2 loss to the United States that relegated the Canadians to tonight’s bronze game.
Canada is now 0-for-15 when it comes to winning gold at the mixed doubles worlds. And, with Kerri Einarson’s team settling for its second straight bronze at the women’s worlds last month and Brad Gushue’s rink losing in the final of the men’s worlds earlier this month, that makes five full seasons without a major global title for Canada.