The Toronto Maple Leafs held their annual outdoor practice at Nathan Phillips Square on Thursday.
People of all ages were at the square supporting the Toronto Maple Leafs on one of the coldest days Toronto has witnessed so far this winter.
“It’s 11:35 and they’re not here yet,” said one child waiting for his favourite player with a Leafs jersey hanging off the metal fence, “do you think they will sign my jersey?”
I responded with “of course.”
And the players did, after the tournament that had all of the fans who were braving the cold temperatures cheering and chanting their favourite players names.
“We’re grateful for how many fans come to these events,” said Mitch Marner after the outdoor practice (via Maple Leafs YouTube), “moments like these, we always enjoy and take it for the most.”
All of the fans are just as grateful.
It’s a dream for all of the kids who are massive fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Whether they get to attend games at the Scotiabank Arena or not, they don’t get this close to the players that often.
I remember how it felt for me, being a kid, getting fist-bumps from the Oshawa Generals players as they walked out onto the ice. That feeling was ignited again on Thursday when I think it was John Tavares who gave me a fist-bump.
The feeling never gets old as a Toronto Maple Leafs fan and it never will.
As the players were walking to the bus after practice, they were bombarded with fans asking for autographs and, to take selfies with them.
And the last player to get on the bus? Tavares.
“Playing for the Maple Leafs and the City of Toronto here at City Hall, in front of our fans, it means a lot and it’s nice to take a moment and recognize that.” Said Tavares before hanging out with fans for nearly 20 minutes, signing whatever they wanted on his way to the Maple Leafs bus.
Just being able to see the impact the players have on this community was incredible. They love the city, they love the fans — they love all of it.
While there’s only one each year, I do think that the Toronto Maple Leafs should host more events like these. Some kids, who are massive fans didn’t get to attend because of school. And if this event was held once on a weekday and once on the weekend, it would be that much more special.
However they do have a very busy schedule and they also have a job to do (make the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup). I do understand why they only host it once a year and even with it being once, it’s a treat to all of the fans.
This offers the fans, and the players a chance to interact on a different level during the busy season. And I can guarantee this, it’s a win for both sides and I’m glad I got to be a part of it.