Jake Gardiner's electric heater was still full of his equipment while he stood in front of his stroller, which he called home during the last eight seasons, dressed in a blue T-shirt by the Maple Leafs and black shorts on the day cleaning on the locker for the emotion of the moment, without really showing it.
Hands resting on his hips, his attempt to get rid of the playoff beard, Gardiner turned to the disappointment of another 7th run in the first round, but like the very recent end of 2018-1919 he feels compared to the past year. the veteran protege, because of the unlimited free agency that is coming this summer.
"I've been here for a long time," Gardiner said when he first turned to the media after losing two days earlier in Boston. "It's definitely an emotional time, for sure, a potential departure from here and not with the boys I've been with for so long." I think my wife was quite emotional even yesterday, maybe the last time we were here that we will see how it goes. "
It could not be easy for Gardiner to look so restrained as he was saying it. 28-year-old Minnesotan wants to stay. And that's partly because he really has been here for a long time – longer than any player on this list, except Nasham Cadri, who beats him with hair.
Gardiner has played for the Maple Leafs for most of the eight seasons, and the episode comes in his second year when he spends more time in the AHL than the NHL, prompting his former agent to delight: #FreeGardiner. No one released him: Gardiner finally played with the big club, debuted in his playoffs in game 2 this season and swore.
The arena has even changed its names while Gardiner is Maple Leaf. Four different major coaches have gone through their first game. Gardiner played 551 regular seasons for this team, scored 45 goals and had 200 assists. He never went through the first round of the Poseidon. Still, he wants to stay.
"I was going through ups and downs," he said as he tried to cope with the inheritance he left behind if it was for him in Toronto. "Obviously when we first came here [in 2011-12] the team was not great. Naz, me and Morgan [Rielly] are some of the last guys who have been here for a long time and I will be proud of what we have done here and the way we brought this organization to a team we can be proud of. The playoffs obviously did not go the way we wanted, but this team has a really good future and a bright future ahead of them.
"This team," and "em" sound like it sounds like it's already out. You can not blame Gardiner for being less optimistic that the deal will work out to return next season Lucy (his wife) and Henry (their seven-month-old son) Mr. Kyle Dubasse is not shy that Priority No. 1 has signed Mitch Marner on what will be a big, fat contract, and then Leafs will see what they've been doing .
If Mapard Leafs' time is over, this past 7, the last one for this team, he will play his swan song with Toronto less than 100% with a back injury that keeps him on 18 regular season games and questioning whether he will come back in time for the playoffs at all. The first six games in the series, Gardiner was moving much less than his usual minutes, and he did not look in his liquid. "I was definitely not 100%, but I will not use it as an excuse," he said.
Gardiner was on the ice for just one goal from five to five in the first six games of the series. Of course, this is not what everyone will remember.
His reward in Game 7 will be the moment that stands out for most. Indeed, Gardiner's gaff – an attempt to turn around behind his network, which has become Bruins' goal – led to the winner of the game was mainly cruel poetry. The 7 games did not show Gardiner's best moments: He is the worst NHL-10 in the series, and last year, when he lost 7-4 in a minus-five, he took the blame, telling reporters with tears in my eyes, "I did not show up."
Livestream every match of the Stanley Cup play-offs, no current. Plus stream of Blue Jays & MLB, Raptors and NBA Playoffs matches and more.
Gardiner does not fight for the last loss, his father, John says. John sent Jake after the game on Tuesday, basically like "a few difficult rebounds," and "I'm sorry for the loss" and "heavy series," and Gardner returned to him with a simple, "Thank you, Dad. And that was it.
"Obviously, that was a bad reading on my part," Gardner said on Thursday, to the contrary, which Austin Matthews was saying. "It could do something else with the puck, such things happen all the time in the games and do not end up in your network, but when that happens, it's obviously a pretty big deal, especially at this time of year."
What makes Kyle Dubbas "sad," says GM, is that moments like these will be used to determine Gardiner's days in Toronto.
"I think one of the things that is pretty sad for me, especially for Jake, is Jake's driving force in this team, from 2014, the first day I go to where I am now, that's a day and night, "Dubbs said. "As I told him today, his contributions and what his legacy is for Toronto Maple Leafs, people are trying to link him to small, small events like the one about Game 7 and what it means and that means. a huge part of turning this franchise around, and I do not think a game or series of games will judge this.
"I think in time, the way people will see Jake will be so positive and people will realize the contribution he has made to the band."
Today, the courage of some fans and the media is louder, though Gardiner does not say he feels unfairly treated.
"That's right, I think," he said. If you win, you are the best player on Earth If you lose, you suck Some people see it differently than others And do not always agree With you You have to deal with it, whether fans tear you apart or the media, it's all part of the professional sport and you have to overcome it. "
The fact is that this passionate fan base and the following is one of the main reasons why Gardiner does not want to leave Toronto if you ask his father. "He loves the fact that every game is really a really important game for these people," says John. "I think he was in other places where he saw that he did not have such an atmosphere. In Toronto you have 19,000 people who are really, really in every game. . "
The average energy he loves less. "He's got thick skin and I think he's doing better than most," John says. "Probably he has been studied as much as anyone else. I do not think he loved him. Who could, would not it? But it comes with the territory. He is a professional athlete and has dealt with him.
Of course, Gardiner can let this thick skin lay several layers if his next contract is outside of Toronto.
Rielly laughed when he asked if it was safe to say that Gardiner did not receive the respect he deserved outside his dressing room: "Yes, I would say that's probably quite accurate." And then he repeated again for about a fourth time: "We want it back.
This feeling was reflected in the locker room on Thursday as it cleared. "Having a person like Jake next to me to learn from it is perfect," says Travis Dermott, the 22-year-old who was in a pair with Gardiner during the playoffs. "He's very unique in his game and the way he skates and tackles the ice is unique, which I think makes him very special."
There were so many talks about Gardiner and so many questions about his contribution to this team, which Ricky quickly remarked, "He has not yet gone."
No, not yet.
Soon Gardiner will return to Edin, Min., Where he lives with Lucy and Henry during the off-season. His parents live nearby in Minenink, where he grew up.
If Gardiner does not return to Toronto in September, if it is for him like Maple Leaf, what will he lack most about playing for this team and this city?
Gardiner took a deep breath as he thought about it.
"Very much," he said, and his blue eyes turned into glass just before he left. "But most likely the boys in this room.