Maple Leafs fans get set for home opener
Chris Kitching, cp24.com
Published Monday, January 21, 2013 7:30AM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 21, 2013 7:52PM EST
After enduring a lockout that delayed and shortened the current NHL season, Maple Leafs fans finally have something to cheer about.
Fans are getting set for the Leafs’ home opener Monday night after the team opened the season with a road win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.
The Leafs host the Buffalo Sabres at the Air Canada Centre at 7 p.m.
"Opening day is always a great day," said Tom Anselmi, the president and chief operating officer of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the company that owns the team. "It's three months late this year but it’s still opening day and it’s just terrific.
"Hockey is back and that is important in our country, so it’s a great day," Anselmi said.
As a thank you, the Maple Leafs are welcoming fans back with several promotions around the city.
During the day, the team’s “Blue and White Crew” is taking over the outdoor skating rink at Nathan Phillips Square.
There will be free skate rentals, ticket giveaways, and appearances by Leafs alumni and current Toronto Marlies players.
Since an open practice was held for fans last week, the Original Six team has been giving away free tickets to Monday’s home opener, jerseys and other merchandise. The club’s 15,000 season ticket holders are getting free admission to the game.
Before the game, Leafs alumni are greeting fans, who will receive a commemorative scarf, as they arrive at the ACC, according to the team. More freebies will be announced during the game.
Anselmi said the promotions are meant to thank fans for their patience and loyalty.
“We just really wanted to welcome everyone back and do it right and do it in style,” Anselmi told CP24 anchor Melissa Grelo on Monday. “We’ve got such amazing fans.”
When the Leafs visit the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 23, a “road viewing party” will be held at the ACC, where fans can watch the game and snack on free food.
The Leafs announced the promotions last Thursday after several teams had already announced freebies for their fans. During the Leafs' silence, the team drew criticism from some fans, who argued the club should give back to fans who waited out the lockout.
@ChrisKitching is on Twitter. For instant breaking news, follow @CP24 on Twitter.