Well I’m off to Toronto for a week – or as some may call it – the Center of the Hockey Universe! I lived in this hockey mad city for 10 years, and saw first-hand how badly fans there want to win that elusive Stanley Cup.
It’s been a long time for those fans, and the Leafs haven’t given the faithful much to cheer about for the past five years. I have luckily been in Europe throughout this current horrendous phase in Toronto hockey history. That being said I’m beyond interested to see what awaits me there now – with the Leafs looking like a team that could make the post-season.
This is a city that is blessed with many professional teams – the Blue Jays, Marlies, Raptors, the Rock and Toronto FC have their own rabid support – but make no mistake this is a Leaf town – bleeding blue 365 days a year. I was in the ‘Big Smoke’ for a Jays’ World Series triumph, and was at the first ever game in Raptor history. But I’ve also seen the frenzy that a Leafs’ win brings. A random win over Boston on a Tuesday in November can be huge news for fans and media alike! It can take over the very fabric of the populace.
This is a city that would have to be shut-down for days if the Leafs went deep in the playoffs. I was lucky enough to be at a game-seven decider many moons ago, when Wendel Clark led the ‘Blue and White’ past Curtis Joseph and the Blues – it was like a nuclear reaction that the home-team was advancing! This wasn’t the Cup, it was an opening round series, and the city was electric.
The party and mood that night, after a 6-0 drubbing of St. Louis, was bigger than the Jays’ second World Series that I experienced in person. It was bigger than the Raptors during the Vince Carter years, and it was certainly bigger than any Rock Lacrosse title, or Toronto FC win. It was in a word – incredible! Mark my words – if the Leafs advance to a Stanley Cup, you will want to be there. It will be like nothing imaginable.
So there in lies the excitement about my latest travels. I will be taking in a few Leaf games next week for both business and pleasure. It will be nice to be back in my old haunts with the team actually on the cusp of a playoff berth. And maybe even more appealing to me, the mood of the city will be exciting with it’s beloved club being on that cusp.
Stay tuned – I’m sure I’ll have plenty of stories from this trip – some I will repeat, and some that will be left on the road!
You can follow Murph’s Toronto Hockey Road-Trip on Twitter @MurphOnIce