On this, the eve of the 2006-07 NHL season, take a moment and consider how unhealthy our relationship with hockey in this town is.
Despite the fact you know the Leafs are gonna suck again this year (or at least let you down in the end), if a buddy offered you free greys to watch them play Columbus you’d rearrange your week and snap em up wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you!?
Well, despite the co-dependent relationship that keeps you and the Boys in Blue together, there is plenty of other hockey in town, from the Marlies on down. But while they could never challenge the Mecca that is Toronto, the burbs (already home to the Ice Dogs, Generals and much more) are trying to get their foot a bit further in the door.
Last year a new mega-sports-complex called The Pavilion opened in Vaughan. Its arena was designed to NHL specifications (even the dressing rooms) with the goal of luring visiting teams for practices when they’re in town. It was built and they came: teams like the Coyotes and Penguins practiced at the venue and practices were open to the public and free. If you’re “of a certain age” you might remember when you could simply stoll into Maple Leaf Gardens to watch the Leafs practice but those days are long gone. You can, however, head up to the Dufferin-407 area to watch Sydney Crosby skate around, or hear Wayne Gretzky blow a whistle.
Ex-NHLer Jim Thomson runs the show (and a hockey school there), and while no NHL teams have booked ice time just yet, wait til the season actually starts.
If that’s not enough to get you on the road to the 905, people who care about such things are no doubt excited about the new Junior A League – the Greater Metro Hockey League – that just launched north of the city. With teams like the South Muskoka Shield and Deseronto Thunder, how can you resist?
The “Roughrider Award For Oddest Team Name” probably goes to the Toronto Canada Moose. Just to be clear – it’s the Canada Moose of Toronto as opposed to the Moose from Toronto, Canada. Oh, and they play in Thornhill, kinda like how the Giants and Jets play in New Jersey.
The important thing is that we can all agree that the best game you can name is the good ol’ hockey game. Everything else is just window dressing.