It’s hard to believe that the NHL’s most valuable franchise has such an atrocious home record. The Toronto Maple Leafs have just three victories in their last 18 home games dating back to last season. So far in 2013 the Leafs own a 4-1 record on the road and a 1-4 mark at the Air Canada Centre. That’s why it made perfect sense for the team to get trounced Monday night in Toronto against the Carolina Hurricanes, and roll into Washington yesterday and play a near perfect road game versus the Caps.
Unfortunately I don’t think the league or MLSE would approve a request by the team to have the rest of their home games moved out of town. So in the meantime the Leafs are going to have to figure out a way to turn things around. The poor play at the ACC could be for any number of reasons, but here are three things I can’t stand about Leaf home games.
The Empty Seats – The Leafs essentially sell out every home game, but for the first few minutes of each period they might as well be playing in Phoenix or Florida. It often looks like the entire Platinum section is stuck in the buffet line deep inside the concourse and can’t make it back to their seats until about five minutes into a period. You can’t blame the fans who pay top dollar for those seats for taking advantage of the opportunity and indulging in some delicious intermission food, but perhaps it could be organized better to improve the atmosphere. Why not open the area prior and after the game only? This way it won’t look like the Leafs are playing in front of a crowd that could rival the attendance of a Men’s League midnight hockey game.
Lack of Jerseys – There are far too many suits and not enough blue and white at Leaf games. I understand many people come from work and may not have time to go home and change in-between, but there are other methods the organization could take. Passing out towels and t-shirts could unify the crowd in a massive “Whiteout” or even “Blueout” once in a while. I’ll give MLSE credit for handing out white towels prior to the first home game in 2013. The problem is it happens so infrequently that the majority of fans looked puzzled as to why they were holding one in the first place, and many just draped it awkwardly over a shoulder. If you watch a Calgary Flames game for example all you see is a sea of red jerseys. There is no reason Toronto can’t do the same.
The Crowd – Every fan that purchases a ticket has the right to boo or voice their opinion however they please, but there are other ways to get your point across. Chanting “Let’s Go Blue Jays” is certainly an interesting way of expressing yourself. I’m not sure how showing your support for one of the few franchises that has actually been more woeful than the Leafs in the past 20 years makes any sense. Electing not to purchase an overpriced beer during the game may make more of a statement.