If you listened to all the Kings’ men, this game was no different than any other.
They claimed a certain No. 93--Maple Leaf center Doug Gilmour--warranted no extra attention in the corners or along the boards.
There would be no added incentive to avenge Gilmour’s two-handed slash of King right wing Tomas Sandstrom last week, which put Sandstrom out of action for four to six weeks with a broken left forearm.
Somehow, it didn’t seem that way Saturday night during Toronto’s 3-2 victory at Maple Leaf Gardens, the Kings’ first defeat in five games.
Not when the newspapers were full of stories about Gilmour’s eight-day suspension, which will cost him $28,984 in salary and a $500 fine.
And not when “Hockey Night In Canada” commentator Don Cherry went on the air on between periods and denounced Sandstrom as “a back-stabbing, chicken Swede who got what he deserved.”
Gilmour was the focal point almost every time he hit the ice. The Kings (16-7-2) mixed it up with him whenever they could without drawing a foolish penalty. Right wing Marty McSorley, to no one’s surprise, took a couple of shots at Gilmour in front of the Maple Leafs’ bench in the second period.
The Kings couldn’t really concentrate on him in the third period because they were trailing, 3-2, and couldn’t risk any costly penalties so late in the game.
But to a man, they all said that their treatment of Gilmour, who had one assist, was no different, saying a good goal-scorer and playmaker merits more than adequate attention anyway.
“I don’t think anybody was going to go out of their way to hit him,” King defenseman Charlie Huddy said. “If there was a chance to hit him, you’d hit him because he always is someone they’re looking for--a big scorer.”
King Coach Barry Melrose thought the attention surrounding the Kings and Maple Leafs was a result of being in Canada.
“The only people who made a big deal about this was the press,” he said.
Was Gilmour a distraction?
“He’s a distraction--he’s a good player,” Melrose said. “He’s quite a distraction.”
Melrose even thought a special Maple Leaf promotion--handing out small white towels to the crowd of 15,720--had something to do with the Gilmour-Sandstrom affair. But it didn’t.
“I didn’t believe it when I saw all those towels waving,” Melrose said. “I’ve been away from Canada so long, so I really was surprised (the controversy) was such a big deal. Welcome back to Canada. I forgot how big it all is here.”
Gilmour downplayed the extra attention he received, but his coach, Pat Burns, said he noticed the difference.
“There’s no doubt about that,” Burns said. “I talked to Doug about it before the game. I told him, ‘You might have to take some cheap shots for us to win the game.’ Everybody supported him.”
Gilmour put a $100 bill on the bulletin board in the Maple Leafs’ dressing room. He said he wanted to make his fine an even $30,000, according to teammate Mike Foligno.
And Gilmour said the $100 would go to the player scoring the game-winning goal, which turned out to be Mark Osborne. Osborne, who scored at 18:49 of the first period, picked up his first goal of the season.
It was a bit of a fluke as the puck came off Huddy’s glove as he was attempting to direct it away while in the slot and batted it to Osborne up the middle. Osborne beat King goaltender Kelly Hrudey down low on the stick side with a quick shot for the winner.
Guy Leveque and Tony Granato scored for the Kings.