As a kid growing up here in Toronto I was fortunate enough to go to the gardens a lot. Most Saturday nights during the winter months I was lucky enough (i didn’t realize how bad they were then) to go to a ton of games. My brothers, uncles, cousins and even babysitters used to take me. If I wasn’t at a game I was certainly watching on tv. Hockey has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.
As much as I love the ACC I do miss the gardens. Some memorie of the gardens include:
The guy who used to yell goooooooooooo leeeeeeafs gooooooooo
The old PA announcer who was truly awesome
the rats that were visible around the area where the Zamboni used to come in and out of
going to watch the Marlies on Sunday afternoons and sitting wherever you want
the roasted chestnuts they sold outside
meeting friends at doug laurie’s sports during intermissions
the sink like urinals in the bathrooms
the “awesome” usher uniforms and hats
the old style organ
being able to walk right by the dressing rooms
how close the benches were to each other
my buddies’ front row reds that were right behind the leaf net
The night that Bobby Clarke got his teeth knocked out and my cousin knocked on the glass, offered him a stick of chewing gum by sliding the stick under the glass and seeing Clarke smile sans teeth
Harold Ballard and King Clancy in their bunker
Seeing Gretzky play his first game in Toronto as an NHL player
Dick Beddoes hat
Bad teams, and I mean BAD teams….
John Brophy, Roger Neilson, Dan Maloney, Mike Nykoluk, Geroge Armstrong, Tom Watt, Doug Carpenter, Nick Beverly behind the leafs bench
Waiting outside the hot stove lounge for autographs
coke’s that used to come in milk cartons
All of those Saturday nights instilled in me a love for the game. I have played the game (poorly) since age 7 and play ever Sunday morning still. Those experiences taught me to coach, write and pretty much live hockey every day.
However, the greatest memory I have of hockey today is of the night my son came home from the hospital only 2 days after being born. While he was a great baby in the hospital, from the minute we got him into the car for several hours later he did nothing but scream; not cry, scream. Finally with the help of a nurse we got him bundled up and he sat (lay is more like it) in my arms and watched the Leafs beat up the Habs… It was our first hockey game together, me 30, him 3 days. Today, at the ripe old age of 6 he is every bit hockey fanatical as I am. I’d like to think it has something to do with that first night I shared with him, me Bob Cole, Harry Neil and Mats and Co….
and of course here is this year’s photo: