Memories of Attending Games at Maple Leaf Gardens

St. Louis Blues v Toronto Maple Leafs
St. Louis Blues v Toronto Maple Leafs / Graig Abel/GettyImages
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Memories of Maple Leaf Gardens

The Arena

The seats at Maple Leaf Gardens felt even narrower than the ones at Scotiabank, the popcorn was saltier, and the beer was slightly cheaper.  The old arenas were built on a steeper grade, so sitting up near the top in the greys wasn’t for those with vertigo.  The cheap seat views then were better, though, as it seemed as if you were hanging over the ice.

Even more unsettling than the greys was hanging on for dear life in the blue seats, which were located at the ends of the rink behind each net.  These rows went up almost vertically, with guard rails placed between each row to prevent those with balance issues (alcohol induced or otherwise) from tumbling down onto the ice (no netting in those days to prevent pucks from going up, or spectators from coming down).

There was no rock music, or recorded music of any kind, just smooth Jimmy Holmstrom on the organ.  The washrooms were old, dirty and crowded.  Instead of urinals, there were these big communal troughs (if you know, you know).  The escalators to the upper levels were narrow, steep, creaky and kind of intimidating for a child.

The floors were probably mopped occasionally, but they felt like the last time was decades prior.  There was no “5 second rule” if you dropped a snack at a Toronto Maple Leafs game.  Even a wrapped treat like a chocolate bar, once it fell, would elicit a sigh from Dad, and a “let it be, son, just let it be”.

Rink announcer Paul Morris reported all goals, penalties and “last minute of play” announcements in an even monotone – no hype or excitement.  I grew up with his voice on televised Leaf games, thus that was the highest standard for me.  I do think current Scotiabank Arena voiceman Mike Ross adds an appropriate amount of enthusiasm to his calls, but some other (American, mostly in sunny climes) teams employ cheerleaders hyped up on Red Bull – no thanks!