Wednesday, July 15, 2009
tales of an nhl rookie
Growing up, the only professional sporting events I went to were major league baseball games. The closest I ever came to seeing an NHL match was the occasional oldtimers game that passed through Amherstburg, where Dad was happy to see the odd player he remembered watching as a kid and roll off the story of how he wound up using a pair of Alex Delvecchio's skates while playing rec games in Leaside in the late 1960s (another player snatched them from a practice, the skates made the rounds of whoever had the same size feet as the Red Wings hall-of-famer). These stories amused me, since the only evidence I ever had of Dad on skates was a faded photograph or two—I don't remember him strapping on a pair during my lifetime.
Factors that prevented us from ever going to a Red Wings game? My guesses would be cost, quality of the team (the franchise underwent the transition from the "Dead Things" to contender during my childhood) and possibly my never making a fuss about going to a game. The cost factor definitely explains why I never saw a Leafs game during my first decade in Toronto, along with a declining interest in the game.
One afternoon in mid-February, I was working away at the office when an email popped up from the staff association. Thanks to a random draw, I was the lucky recipient of two tickets to see the Leafs take on one of the worst teams in the league, the New York Islanders. One email to my then-new partner-in-crime and everything was set for my NHL debut on March 10.
Due to time, we ate at the Air Canada Centre. Food prices and selection weren't as bad as we expected. Sarah tried the Cuban sandwich shown above, which proved to be a decent mix of pork products (pulled pork, ham, etc).
Nothing says intermission fun than a girl dressed as a lottery-sponsored puck.
The game itself wasn't a thrilling match, given the quality of the teams on the ice. We were more interested in observing the crowd around us, though time has faded my memories. The game went into a short overtime period—The Leafs won when Mikhail Grabovski scored a goal fifty seconds in.
Would I go again? Sure, if someone else is paying for the well-positioned seats we had (I couldn't see myself paying the triple-digit figure printed on the ticket).