r1166328 608x342 16 9 - Replay Madness

The Toronto Maple Leafs have finally won a series.

With their 2-1 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Leafs won a postseason series for the first time since 2004. Toronto won the series 4-2.

The win also ends the second-longest streak of losses in playoff series-clinching games in NHL, MLB and NBA history. The Leafs had lost 10 consecutive series clinchers from 2013 to 2021. That was behind the 1990-2012 Winnipeg Jets/Arizona Coyotes, who lost 13 straight playoff series-clinching games.

In 2004, Toronto defeated the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals before losing to the Philadelphia Flyers in the following round. While 2004 doesn’t seem that long ago, the world has changed quite a bit. Back then, Tobey Maguire was Spider-Man, Facebook was still only at Harvard and “Friends” was ending. Here’s what the world was like 19 years ago.

Where were LeBron James and Tom Brady?

Today these two are, arguably, the dominant sports figures of the past 20 years. In 2004, however, neither was close to claiming GOAT status. Brady, then with the New England Patriots, had a measly two Super Bowl wins at this time, having won his second by defeating the Carolina Panthers in February 2004. James was an NBA rookie in 2004. He averaged 20.9 points that season and won the NBA Rookie of the Year award.

Put in other terms, it has been five Brady Super Bowl wins and 36,998 career regular-season points for James since Toronto won a series.

Curse broken

It was a big year for Boston sports. The first of many. The Boston Red Sox, months after the Patriots won the Super Bowl and 86 years after the baseball team’s 1918 title, ended the Curse of the Bambino by defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 World Series. Boston famously rallied from a 3-0 deficit against the New York Yankees in the ALCS before winning it all.

‘Yeah!’ is the anthem

With the mere mention of Usher, Ludacris and Lil Jon, the R&B/crunk banger might already be in your head. Released in January 2004 as the first single from Usher’s “Confessions” album, the song was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 12 straight weeks and was Billboard’s top-selling song of the year.

The song won the Grammy for Best Melodic Rap Performance and launched so many Lil Jon memes and impressions.

The week the Maple Leafs won that last series was a great time for music. Also listed on the Billboard Top 100 was “The Way You Move” and “Hey Ya!” by Outkast, “Maps” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “I Miss You” from Blink-182, Jay Z’s “Dust Off Your Shoulder” and “Toxic” by Britney Spears.

The year of the cult movies

“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” “Finding Nemo,” “Shrek 2” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” ruled movies during the 2003-04 hockey season. However, two other movies from that year live on as quotable, meme-able, classics: “Anchorman” and “Napoleon Dynamite.”

“That escalated quickly” even has an entry at dictionary.com.

Ben and Jen

After two years of dating, superstar couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez broke up in 2004. Lopez married Marc Anthony in 2004 and Affleck married Jennifer Garner in 2005. But since time is a flat circle and the past is prologue and all that, Lopez and Affleck are back together.

Just in time for the rest of the Maple Leafs’ playoff run.

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Stanley Cup playoffs 2023 – the world when Toronto Maple Leafs last won a series