7. “Salute Gate”
On Nov. 20, 2014 Toronto Maple Leafs players became overtly salty with their fans.
That evening, the club improved to a respectable record of 10-8-2 with a 5-2 win over one of the NHL’s top teams at the time, the Tampa Bay Lightning. But, before we get into what happened that night, it’s important to back up to the Leafs previous game.
Two days earlier, while playing at home at the Air Canada Centre, the Leafs got thumped to the tune of a 9–2 loss to the Nashville Predators.
It was the team’s third loss in a row. One fan in attendance chose to show their displeasure by committing the disrespectful act of throwing their Leafs jersey onto the ice.
Considering the team still had a winning record at the time, it was a strange act of protest. It also appeared to have garnered the attention of Toronto’s players.
Fans learned that the players were unhappy with being disrespected as they retaliated in a very unique manner.
Once the Nov. 20 game ended, the players all took to the ice to congratulate one another. With the game taking place in Toronto, the expectation was that they would then all proceed to center ice.
Normally, the victorious home team’s players would skate there following the final horn. They would gather together and raise their sticks to salute the fans in a way of saying “thank you” to those supporting them. On this night, the players chose to skip the customary actions.
Captain Dion Phaneuf insisted that the team was was simply trying out alternative celebrations. The excuse fall flat and the actions led to a great deal of media and backlash from fans on social media. Though, in retrospect, the whole situation is a silly one; it had Leafs nation in a frenzy for several weeks.