For as far back as I can remember the Toronto Maple Leafs were my team, I inherited them from my Father and I will pass the genes along to my own sons, going to a game is a right of passage for any true Toronto Fan (or it was until they made seats impossible to get for regular fans). I would go so far as to say that most people who grew up in the Toronto area can look back at a time in their lives when they sat in the seats of the Gardens with their Dads and cheered on the Leafs.
My own first game was the Leafs vs Winnipeg Jets, and at the time I was so young that I didn’t really understand the idea of cheering for one team, so every time someone got a goal I was thrilled. (To the horror of my Father I am sure 🙂
Last night, for the first time in MANY (that will go unnumbered) years I was able to attend a Leafs game thanks to the generosity of a good friend. Tim and I were able to escape life for the night and go down to the Air Canada Centre for a night of blissful hockey watching. The stands filled up quickly and the air was charged with an excitement that can only come from being at a game where the fans really love their hockey. There were the very typical business men, joining in a round of ‘let’s play business but really watch hockey and drink beer’ and of course you had the Fathers who had brought their kids looking all cute with their little micro-jersey’s on. Their were young girls, cheering loudly hoping to be spotted by equally young men in a primal dance of testosterone and estrogen. Then of course there were people who were there simply for the love of the game, with someone they love, sharing passion for a sport even when the team is one that is quite commonly known to suck.
Before the game got underway, before the anthems were sung and the flags were hung they had a time of remembrance for both Gaye Stewart and Pat Burns, what a moment it was too! The crowd stood while they showed tribute to these two hockey greats. As the music on the tribute faded the roar of the crowd became deafening and a resounding cheer went up, people cheered in a standing ovation for roughly 5 minutes. It was enough to get even the grumpiest of grumpy’s all choked up.
The anthems played, red white and blue and then good old red and white, true north strong and free! Then it began, the players took position over the centre line and the puck dropped. The action didn’t stop, there were fights, penalties and power plays but more importantly there were GOALS! Four of them for the Leafs… it was fun, and exciting and such a great way to escape from life for a while.