Good morning Toronto Maple Leafs fans!
Because of various reasons there isn’t much NHL news happening and today I’d rather not get into all that. It’s my favourite time of year and I’m staying positive where I can.
Today the Maple Leafs should have played the St. Louis Blues in what has become an annual pre-Christmas matinee. Since the centennial season, the Leafs have played a matinee just ahead or during the elementary school winter break, in the tradition of minor and junior teams hosting school day games, but without the extra incentive of selling group packages to schools to goose attendance numbers.
Today’s game should have been my youngest son’s first NHL game but it’s not. It did get me thinking about first games though. My first hockey games were always local JrB games with the St. Catharines Falcons.
My first NHL game was unexpected. My parents weren’t into hockey, neither was I really when I was a kid. However I was staying at my cousins house between Boxing Day and New Years and went to his teams tournament that week. I bought some raffle tickets and ended up winning a Darryl Sydor game used stick signed by the 95-96 LA Kings. Delivery of the stick was late, and as an apology, someone with the team sent over a pair of tickets for a Panthers/Sabres game.
January 31st, 1996 was my first NHL game. The Buffalo Sabres won the game 6-1, and since we sat on the glass in the Sabres end, I got to watch Domink Hasek do his thing up close and in person. At the end of the game all hell broke loose with a line brawl and a goalie fight. 13 year old me was just thrilled and it was a first game to remember.
My first Maple Leafs game was a Leafs/Habs pre-season game post-lost season. My first away Leafs game was March 23rd, 2006. A wedding gift! And the Leafs lost 5-1. Sigh.
Talking to my wife, she can’t remember the date but her first NHL game was in company seats from her fathers work in the Montreal Forum. They were so close to the ice she remembers Lyle Odelin swearing every time he opened his mouth. It went to over time and the Habs lost.
My oldest son came with me when I got some tickets to A Maple Leafs / Panthers game at the end of the tank season. April 4th, 2016. He still remembers it because Florida kept challenging goals at the end and the Leafs were bad so he just wanted to go home, but the Panthers coach wouldn’t let him.
So, instead of talking about [waves hand] all that, share stories of your first Leafs game, first NHL game, of any first hockey game that sticks in your mind.
We’ll get back to games soon enough, but for now, let’s relive the past.