Turning over a new Leaf

Seeing whether the Toronto Maple Leafs really are as bad the jokes make them out to be

It’s been a great summer in Toronto. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s always freezing in Canada, because down in southern Ontario it can get pretty hot and humid.

However, over these past couple of weeks, the temperature has definitely dropped. It might still be sunny, but where you once wore shorts, you now wear trousers, and in the mornings and evenings you put on an extra layer when going outside.

You can’t help but feel that, to borrow a phrase from a popular TV show, winter is coming. You notice the dying leaves on the trees, and this impending sense of doom lingers, a bit like that which you felt in the lead up to school exams or you experience before an interview. On the bright side, unlike Game of Thrones, at least our winter doesn’t last for years or come with an army of the undead.

But how do we know that winter is definitely round the corner? Because the ice hockey season is starting!

Hockey Hall of Fame
Hockey is a big deal in Toronto, and so is home to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Last season we looked into getting tickets to see the Toronto Maple Leafs. The cost of the cheapest tickets was just as hideous as the Leafs’ form, so we never made it. Some suggested that we could see the Marlies – the Leafs’ feeder team – but that just didn’t seem like it would have been as special, even if tickets are cheaper.

Fortunately, eagle-eyed Emma spotted over the summer that tickets were on sale for the Leafs’ pre-season games. These are significantly cheaper than those for the regular season, so we snapped up a couple for the game against Ontario rivals, the Ottawa Senators.

Air Canada Centre
The Canadian national anthem is observed (top), before the game got underway (bottom).

Before the game started, the new giant TV screen (which they rolled out all the facts and figures for during the first interval) showed highlights of Leafs goals and celebrating fans. Given how bad a reputation we’ve been given of the Leafs, I’m surprised they had any goals or cheering fans to show!

The Leafs took a 2-0 lead, firing in two goals in quick succession. Unfortunately, I missed the first goal because I was too busy texting a picture of the game to a friend! Not only that, but we were a bit cold too, having underestimated how cold an arena containing an ice rink would be…

Hockey action
Hockey is a quick and exciting sport, although sometimes it can be a little tricky to follow that puck around when you’re up in the heavens!

If the various punch-ups, fights and barges into the rink’s boards during the game were anything to go by, then the players are definitely taking pre-season seriously!

Hockey fights
There was plenty of physical contact during the game!

Having indulged in some poutine (poutine and a hockey game – oh so very Canadian) we sat back down to see the Leafs win 4-1.

Hopefully the win is a good omen for the season to come. The Maple Leafs may have won the Stanley Cup – the top prize in hockey – 13 times, but not once have they been victorious since 1967. In that aspect they are remarkably like the England football team – an underperforming laughing stock hailing from the country of the sport’s birth, who always have high hopes and are backed by passionate and dedicated fans, but haven’t won anything since the 60s.

Mike Babcock Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs are hoping that new coach, Stanley Cup winning Mike Babcock, can lead them to success.

Are you looking forward to the new hockey season? Have you seen any sports for the first time recently?

Interested in seeing the Maple Leafs yourself? At time of writing, only a limited number of tickets were available for the final pre-season game against the Detroit Red Wings on 3rd October.

To gain first access to tickets and invites to free Leafs events we’d recommend signing up to Leafs Nation (it’s free).

Stewart

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