But look to history and you will see that epic playoff collapses in recent history have seen rise from the ashes to find the ultimate glory.
The anguish of watching a huge lead get blown and a series lost is not unique. The gut-wrenching feeling has been shared by many a fanbase but it's not the end of the world. In fact, sometimes it's the beginning of something great.
•April 10, 1982 at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, CA, the "Miracle on Manchester", the greatest comeback in NHL history. The lowly Los Angeles Kings erased a 5-0 third period deficit against Wayene Gretzky and the haughty Edmonton Oilers, winning 6-5 in overtime. The Kings went on to win the series 3 games to 2, but got swept in the second round by Vancouver and would not get past round 2 for another 11 years.
But the Oilers had "learned to win by losing" as they say. They went on to get to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1983, ultimately winning it in 1984 (1985, 1987, 1988, and 1990).
•April 18, 2001 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, the "Frenzy on Figueroa", a listless-looking L.A. Kings team came back from a 3-0 deficit with under 14 minutes to play, knocking off the Detroit Red Wings, knotting their first round series at two games apiece and setting the stage for an unexpected six-game series victory, which they followed up with an exciting seven-game series against Colorado that ended in defeat. The Kings played only one more playoff series in the next nine years.
Motivated by the early playoff exit, the Red Wings went "all in" the next year and wound up hoisting the Cup (and with Kings icon Luc Robitaille skating on their side, no less!).
•May 14, 2010 at TD Garden in Boston, the Bruins had already let a 3-0 series lead slip away to the Philadelphia Flyers when they built a 3-0 lead in the first 15 minutes of Game 7. And then it all went bad again. The Flyers climbed back from the same 3-0 hole in the game that they had in the series, winning it on a Simon Gagne goal with 7 minutes remaining. Philly went to the Finals that year but fell to the Chicago Blackhawks and haven't done much since, missing the playoffs in embarrassing fashion this season.
And only a year later, the Boston Bruins won the Cup themselves in a thrilling series against the Canucks.
•April 19, 2011, again at the Staples Center, the "Anti-Frenzy" in which the huge underdog 7th seeded Kings, missing their best player Anze Kopitar, looked ready to tie their series with the Sharks at two each when they took a 4-0 lead less than a minute into the second period. But by the end of that period it was 5-5. A San Jose overtime goal gave them a strangehold on the series which they went on to win in six games before falling to the Canucks in the conference finals.
But the Kings learned from that experience and in 2012 they rode one of the greatest postseasons in history to the first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history.
So, Toronto Maple Leafs fans, I am sure it hurts a lot right now, but if history is a guide, your team just might have something big in store in the near future. Of course, this time I hope I'm wrong though!