Last week I did something I haven’t often had a chance to do in my life, watch a live hockey game at the Air Canada Centre (the ACC). My previous experiences at this venue have been nothing more than underwhelming and rather disappointing. The fans have always seemed disinterested in the game itself, and very rarely is there so much as a sustained chant in solidarity and support for their beloved Leafs.
Please allow me to clarify before my obvious bias is pointed out; I am fully fledged die-hard Montreal Canadiens fan, who’s majority of live hockey viewing has occurred at hockey’s holy grail, Le Centre Bell. In my experience, the Bell Centre has always been the polar opposite of everything the ACC is, its loud, passionate and fiery fans create an atmosphere that is something to be desired by the other 29 arenas in the NHL.
However, something was different at this game in Toronto last week. Between the excitements of a rebuild that has allowed the Leafs franchise to do a complete 180, and in the heat of an epic an expected playoff run, the fans packed the ACC to cheer early and often for their club. The team clearly fed off of the energy created by their fans, as they pulled out a gritty 4-2 victory over the devils. The atmosphere in the arena that day was not one that I thought I would ever witness in Toronto for a regular season game, especially against a low-profile team like the Devils.
It is no secret that ticket prices in Toronto are beyond absurd, but I have to say that I highly recommend any fan out there bite the bullet at least once this season or next to watch these kids play at the ACC. I make this recommendation not just because of the talent that we are seeing on the ice, but because of what that talent has done to create an atmosphere in the stands that every true hockey fan craves to be a part of.
(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)