Sports fans in Toronto have a lot to watch
Published Monday, April 2, 2007 2:19PM EDT
It's an exciting time for sports fans in Toronto, with the Maple Leafs going down to the wire for a playoff spot, the Raptors earning a post-season berth and the Blue Jays kicking off their season.
But for the Leafs Nation, hopes were dim on Monday after the team wasted an opportunity to gain some ground after being trounced 7-2 by the New York Rangers on Sunday night.
The Leafs will have to earn some victories in their final three games this week to capture one of the remaining playoff positions. There are number of teams vying for the hotly contested spots in the Eastern Division.
Fans in hockey-mad Toronto are hungry for a Stanley Cup championship. The team hasn't hoisted the coveted trophy since 1967.
Sour Leaf followers say the team always waits until the end of the regular season to begin their push for the post-season.
Still, many fans think the blue-and-whites will clinch a playoff spot.
"We want the Leafs to win. We know they mathematically still have a chance," said one man.
"I'm pretty disappointed right now, but I'm a Leaf fan all the way," said one woman.
The Leafs are home to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, face off against the New York Islanders on Thursday and host the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.
Raptors secure berth
Basketball fans, however, were elated on Sunday when the Raptors made the playoffs for the first time since 2002 with a convincing win over the Charlotte Bobcats.
The squad has had an impressive turnaround season win 41 wins and nine regular season games left. The Raptors won only 27 games all last season.
Toronto Raptor Chris Bosh screams after a slam dunk against the Orlando Magic during first half NBA action on Wednesday, March 21, 2007 in Toronto. (CP / Nathan Denette)
Sunday's win gives all-star forward Chris Bosh his first opportunity to play in the post-season.
"It feels good, but I'm still looking for a better feeling once we get everything underway," Bosh said on Sunday.
The team has been piling on the wins without Rookie of the Year candidate Andrea Bargnani and starter Jorge Garbajosa.
Bargnani, the No. 1 draft pick from Italy, recently underwent an appendectomy. He will likely be out for the rest of the regular season.
Garbajosa, playing in his first season since coming over from the Spanish league, suffered a gruesome leg injury last month and will be out for at least six months.
The Raptors are still fighting to earn homecourt advantage in the playoffs and they want to clinch the division title, which would be the club's first in franchise history.
Boys of Summer return
Monday also marked the first day of the Blue Jays season, as the Boys of Summer are in Detroit taking on the Tigers.
The club finished second last year, but there are high expectations for the squad to clinch a playoff berth this year.
The team signed prized centre-fielder Vernon Wells in the off-season to a US$126-million, seven-year contract extension.
The deal is the richest if franchise history and the sixth largest in Major League Baseball history.
The squad also acquired slugger Frank Thomas to a two-year deal worth US$18-million. The 275-pound designated hitter could hit his 500th career home run in a Blue Jays uniform, as he is only 13 round-trippers short of that mark.
The Jays now have an expensive core of six players that, besides Wells and Thomas, includes Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett, B.J. Ryan and Troy Glaus.
Those players will cost the club about $65 million in 2007, $70 million in 2008 and $75 million in 2009.
With a report from CTV's John Musselman