TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs boarded the subway in full gear on Thursday morning as they headed to Nathan Phillips Square for an outdoor practice in front of eager fans.

In jerseys, skates, and some even holding Tim Hortons coffee cups, the boys in blue walked out of Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto and hopped on the subway at Union Station.


The team then travelled amongst unsuspecting subway passengers to the rink, located near Queen and Bay streets.


They got off the subway inside the Toronto Eaton Centre before walking through the shopping centre and exiting onto Albert Street, heading towards the rink.

This is the second annual outdoor practice that follows with a three-on-three tournament at the rink. Last year, the team arrived by subway as well.

Head coach Sheldon Keefe called the day a “great experience,” noting that it’s “very important” for the team to stay community centric.

“That’s why events like this are really great,” he told reporters. “There are a number of different events that the team does to get the exposure with the people that can’t get to the games and this is one of them and we’re glad it went well and the weather cooperated.”

Toronto Maple Leafs

Players of the team spoke to the importance of interacting with the fans in attendance.

“I think everyone enjoys it,” Mitch Marner said. “I mean we’re grateful for how many fans come to these events and how many fans we get to interact with so we have a lot of fun with it, we enjoy it, moments like these we always enjoy it, and take it for the most.”

“It was a blast,” Auston Matthews said. “Obviously a lot of fans out there, it’s nice to get outside and have some fun with everybody.”

‘It’s good for the city’

A spokesperson for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, Mike Bartlett, said planning this event took months.

Toronto Maple Leafs

“We’ve been working very closely with the City of Toronto,” he said. “It’s great to be in the mayor’s backyard rink for a second year in a row.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory was in attendance of the event and said he hopes it returns next year as well.

“It’s good for the city,” Tory said. “It’s such a thrill to have them here outside City Hall at Nathan Phillips Square and for these fans, some of whom I was talking to, they lined up at 6 a.m. to have a spot.”

“These are the real fans.”

leafs fans

Weekend of hockey continues

Following today’s events, first responders from across the city, including police officers, firefighters and paramedics, will take part in a game on Friday coached by alumni of the Maple Leafs.

Then, on Saturday, the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association is scheduled to conduct its skills competition at Nathan Phillips Square.

The weekend of events is set to conclude on Sunday with an outdoor alumni classic game with teams led by Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour.