The Maple Leafs' philosophy -- off the ice anyway -- has always been go big or go home. Well, the Center of the Hockey Universe has gone really big with its latest edition.
No, Toronto hasn't signed Mats Sundin or lured Wayne Gretzky out of retirement (though they'd still be the team's best players). The Leafs have enlivened the Air Canada Center with what's said to be the best scoreboard in the league. The project cost $7.8 million, and it looks utterly impressive.
Toronto is also renovating the ACC, and part of the reason is the Leafs want it to be more like HSBC Arena, as that link above to a Toronto Star story explains. The ACC is getting an atrium similar to the one in Buffalo. It's a $126 million addition, which is just $1.5 million less than it cost to build the entire HSBC Arena. Way to spend, boys.
Problem is, how many people are going to care? The Star also writes about how Leafs fans are jumping off the bandwagon. Only 51 percent of those surveyed say they are "big fans," down from 69 percent the previous year. Consistently losing and overpaying for Jeff Finger will do that.
The Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks followed the path set by the Pittsburgh Penguins and had players deliver season tickets to their fans. The San Jose Mercury News story caught my eye because of the opening paragraph:
"It's always exciting when the season tickets arrive. There's the hope, the thrill of physically holding them in your hands ..."
It reminded me of Sunday, when I was tailgating at the Bills game. My buddy Joe Best more than once exclaimed, "This is one of my two favorite days of the year." The thrill of opening day was obvious. What's the second day, I had to ask. "The day the tickets come," he said.
I do have to admit, opening the mail and seeing tickets to anything is a good time. Now imagine getting them delivered by the people you're going to see. That'd be really good times.