This past week “#theplayers” came together to raise money for charity while giving starved NHL fans something to watch. Locked out NHLers made their return to Maple Leaf Gardens (now Ryerson athletic centre/Loblaws combo) for the first time since the arena closed shop in 1999.
True story, my family sucks. I never got to see a hockey game at MLG. It didn’t even bother me at the time because I didn’t know what I was missing. I did end up seeing the last Raptors game at the Gardens (LOL) and stole a red arm rest that is currently MIA. Nonetheless, I felt pretty emotional walking through the Loblaws. Once I got into the Mattamy Centre I was blown away with what a beautiful job Ryerson did.
The guys came out, people were amped and Jim Cuddy sang the Canadian national anthem.
Here are some pictures I managed to snap in between cheering. The volume got turned up in our area when the Ryerson goalie George came in and looked nervous as fuck. The disappointment he appeared to experience upon allowing his first goal was felt by our entire section, so we tried to rally around him. Despite his nerves, he looked like he was having more fun as the period progressed and without a doubt, it was one of the best day of his life. Like who gives a shit if you let in a couple of goals during a glorified shinny game when you’re playing with some big NHL stars. I have no pictures of George because I was busy spilling beer on my friend and laughing my ass off.
Some surprises: Matthew Lombardi (my brother from another mother) was a no-show so Shane O’Brien stepped in with his Sharpied jersey. He must have been a real last minute addition for them to not even be able to get him his own jersey.
Phil Kessel was smiling, a lot. He smiles, you guys! You could see some of players had their game face on, but guys like Kessel, Lupul, Del Zotto and Couture were having a time. At one point my least favourite Leaf Mike Komisarek gave this little girl in a Stamkos jersey in the front row a nod and a wink and I could feel her heart flutter. It was a cute moment.
Jonas Gustavsson was stopping pucks! People booed him at first. As per usual, I felt awful for him. For a nice change, Gustavsson’s Sad Face was nowhere to be found. Since he’s no longer Leafs Nation’s problem, maybe we can stop booing him? Just a thought.
When I saw the footage on TV the following day I thought it looked like a major snoozer, but they put on a good show for fans in attendance. Overall we had a good time. AHL hockey is awesome, but fuck it made me miss seeing NHLers play.