Leafs against Los Angeles Kings. Spring of 1993. I think you know where this is going.
Third round of the playoffs. Wayne Gretzky’s stick cuts Doug Gilmour. Referee Kerry Fraser makes the most famous non-call in Maple Leafs history. Saved by Gretzky’s stature in Game 6, the Leafs are done in by his stick in Game 7 in Toronto.
Stuart Percy, now a member of the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors team contesting the Memorial Cup is precisely nine days old when Fraser blows the call.
No one said this was going to be easy.
Four years later his dad, Steve, rolls out some new wallpaper and splays it across the wall of his son’s bedroom. The wallpaper is blue and white with the Leafs logo.
By now, Stuart is wearing Leaf jerseys on which his grandmother sews numbers. He has Maple Leaf mittens and he insists on falling asleep, still in uniform, in front of the Leafs’ game. He has a little Leafs hockey stick that he uses to chase around a ball of tape which periodically irritates his grandfather who prefers an unobstructed view of the set.
Any wonder then that Stuart Percy would love to be selected by the Maple Leafs at the NHL draft next month.
“That would be awesome, a dream come true,” he said.
Percy, a six-foot-two defence-first rearguard is ranked 53rd among North American skaters. The Leafs have two late first-rounders, a second and two thirds. Who knows?
This has all come about organically. His dad Steve worked as a vendor, trolling through the crowd at Maple Leaf Gardens selling popcorn, pop and souvenirs and the family love affair with the team shows no signs of wear. At 18, Stuart still sleeps surrounded by the Leaf wallpaper under the protective gaze of Mats Sundin and Tie Domi. He still has the little toy stick.
There is no record, of course, as to whether little Stuart Percy was in the TV room in Oakville when Kerry Fraser elected not to raise his striped right arm. One question has been answered, though.
“I guess,” said his dad, “this is why Stuart has always been impatient with bad refereeing.”