The 2022-23 Toronto Maple Leafs home opener is tonight and unlike the past 55 years, THIS is the year the Maple Leafs will go all the way and bring in that 14th Stanley Cup victory. I give you my personal guarantee, please do not bookmark this for use in April.

So, how do we prepare for a momentous season such as this? You could trek up to Maple Leaf Square, and stand on concrete and asphalt for hours on hours, not moving from your prime spot to grab a Coke or a hot dog or use the bathroom because someone will take it right away, leaving you at the back of the pack; OR you can stay home, watch the Leafs, get up and down all you want, and never lose your spot. Most of the time.

If you can’t be at the home opener against the Washington Capitals, sitting on the couch, indoors or out, is the best way to go.

Sure, you can head to a sports bar, but then you’re into buying expensive pints and wings and fries all night to justify occupying a table for three or more hours. We’re in a recession man, no one can afford that.

Yes, I said outside. It’s still nice enough (at least here in Niagara), to slap some burgers on the grill, toss some drinks in a cooler, set up the ol’ projector and watch the Leafs under the stars. The sun sets at just the right time to make it dark enough to show the game on the side of house or garage or really tall fence, but still feel good in the classic jersey over hoodie combo. This is my plan at least, and whether you’re in or outside this week I can help you out.

Great Call for Snacks

My go to for pre-game is burgers. Nothing fancy, full Ron Swanson style.

Here’s how I make them:

Put the ground beef in a big bowl. Salt and pepper it. Mix it. Form into patties.

If I’m feeling adventurous I will add in ground pork, but Costco doesn’t sell it like that so, oh well. I used to be lazy and buy pre-made burgers but now it’s cheaper to buy a big pack of meat and do it yourself and get twice as many.

I use a bakery bun rather than pre-packaged hamburger buns, gotta splurge somewhere. Butter them up with bacon grease and grill for a little bit to make them a little toasty,

Hang out, eat burgers, argue about lines, question scratches, yell about what they said on the radio, maybe play washer toss or cornhole, then it’s game time.

During the game, for me, it’s simple. Pretzels and chips. Small things you can have a handful of, one at a time, or eat everything in the first five minutes then regret it the rest of the game. I’m not a big dipper, and I’ve already ruined one jersey (an Ed Belfour road white signed by Curtis Joseph) with sauces so I stay dry on the snacks during play. Since we’re outside there are sneaky dogs running around, and you want to avoid someone grabbing your chicken strips or sandwich while you’re distracted by the play.

Drinks? I don’t drink alcohol anymore, so beers are out for me, but since we’re at my place I’ll grab some of what the guests like because I’m a welcoming host. My vice drink of choice is Coke Zero, I find it’s easier on my stomach than original, but again as a good host I’ll have some cans of both. I also throw in some flavored sparkling water. Variety is the spice of life after all. I have a nice tub I fill with ice, and we’ll set that down somewhere within easy reach. Another one is there for empties, to sort for recycling and to throw at for some commercial break entertainment.

Great Calls for Intermission

We have 20 minutes to fill here, so we can jump onto our phones and check other games, but that ruins the party mood. Inside during colder weather is easier to switch over, but I always like to have a gaming console there ready for some time killing play.

Easy party games like Ultimate Chicken Horse, Worms Armageddon, or if I can find where the heck I put all my controllers after the move, Goldeneye 64 are a quick, easy way to ignore the nonsense that goes on during intermission panels. I always make sure to set a timer. Once we missed an entire period after getting to deep into setting up crazy pathways in Chicken Horse.

Great Calls for Jerseys

I have a problem with owning too many Maple Leafs jerseys. It may not be a problem either. What I would like to do more of is match the jersey to the opponent.

Opening night is up against the Montreal Canadiens, so I will probably wear a vintage style sweater to up against an original six team, like this third jersey from the Dion Phaneuf era.

The home opener against the Capitals, I’ll go with the current style, but then I have to decide between My Matthews or Nylander sweaters.

I always wear blue, never white. I’m terrified of stains. But! This is the Toronto Maple Leafs after all, you’ll never look bad in their jersey.

No matter how you’re going to be watching the game, or who you’re watching with, a great time should be the main goal. If you have people over and the Leafs are losing badly, turn to evening around to games night with the Leafs in the background. If you’re alone, turn to the Game Day Threads here at PPP and commiserate with your fellow fans, that’s what we’re here for.

Win or lose, watching the Leafs is always a Great Call.

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