By Kevin Adshade
Anyone who has read this column for any length of time knows I love the Toronto Maple Leafs (almost all the time) and have done so ever since I knew what hockey was. I just don't like their fans (or their owners past and present, but that's for another day).
Montreal Canadiens fans know how to act in public, I always opine. Montreal fans gave the Calgary Flames a standing ovation in 1989, when the Flames won the Stanley Cup on Montreal ice. Leafs' fans on the other hand, are still booing Daniel Alfredsson, the classy captain of the Ottawa Senators, for something he did in the playoffs against the Leafs a decade ago, which wasn't even his fault (he interfered with Toronto's goalie, a flagrant foul that the ref missed, then a few seconds later scored the game-winning goal. It was a series the Leafs actually came back to win, but infantile bunch they are, some Leafs fans are still giving it to Alfredsson all these years later).
And we won't even get into how pathetic it is that Leafs fans keep rewarding failure by shelling out money for what in most years is a lousy product, and by the corporate suits at ACC who can't find their seats for the start of any period. And their lame pre-game ceremonies, like raising banners to the rafters honouring players who really don't deserve such accolades, usually emceed by that public address announcer at the ACC who sounds like he's at one of those nightclubs where the music is really loud and you have to practically scream at the person standing next to you.
Now the Senators are trying to keep fans of the Leafs and Canadiens away from Sens' home games when those teams are in town. As part of the season's ticket package sent out last month, the Senators included a letter asking ticket holders not to sell off their tickets to fans of rival teams. "In past years, some of our key rivals have had a large number of fans in attendance for our home games," said team president Cyril Leeder. This is understandable, but also must be slightly embarrassing for the Senators, who play in a market that still has staunchly loyal Leafs and Habs' fans in their midst. For better or worse – in the case of the Leafs, mostly worse – fans don't easily give up their allegiance to hockey's two most storied franchises.
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Non-Sports Thought of the Week: Some years ago, I was walking through the hallway at Aberdeen Hospital when I saw a sign on an office door. "Vice-President of Community Health" I think it said, and I wondered, what does a vice-president of community health really do, how much does she or he get paid and is it worth it?
I thought of that recently when reading one of the letters to the editor over the supposed lousy food at Aberdeen Hospital, because if they really want to save money they should start cutting from the top (to be fair, maybe they've cut as much as they can, and maybe the VP of community health plays a vital role). Either way, if you believe what's being said, some dogs eat better than veterans and hospital inpatients these days. We should all have a problem with that.
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Money talks: NHL ticket prices began play in January and season-ticket prices went up 5.7 percent, according to a Chicago-based research firm. The Leafs have the most expensive average NHL ticket at $124.69 (U.S.), followed by the Winnipeg Jets at $97.84, Vancouver ($87.38), Edmonton ($79.27) and Montreal ($78.56). Attendance is also up 1.1 per cent in arenas across the NHL, which is surprising, considering all the hand-wringing that took place during the lockout about how the labour strife was doing damage to the game.
I have a couple of theories on this: hockey fans love their hockey and just wanted the game back, and since the season didn't start until January, the games now mean a lot more, similar to how a 16-game NFL season means that every Sunday has wide-ranging implications. I believe the NHL should cut the season by about a month, and start in early November: for one thing, they wouldn't have to compete with the baseball playoffs in October, which is more of an issue in the U.S. for obvious reasons; for another, it adheres to the less is more theory. If you never go away, how can we miss you?
Kevin Adshade is a sports columnist for The News.