This will be sloppy, sentimental and perhaps trite. Here goes anyway. In the early 1960s I played hockey in the CYO hockey league in Toronto for the Blessed Sacrament parish hockey team. Three years in a row we won the Metro Toronto Championship. In those days the final game of the season was played in a series of games on a Saturday between the CYO (Catholic) and PYC (Protestant) city championship teams. The games were played at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on Carleton Street. The sacred temple of hockey was the site of our games. I still have a memory of skating out there and stopping and turning and looking up past the reds, blues, greens to the high, almost out of sight, greys. We were forunate to win all three games. In one game we got ahead in the score and someone took a penalty. The public address system announced the infraction and the player’s name and number. Instant heaven. Soon there was a short stream of players to the penalty box. One other part of this small memory, in the first year, we were Atoms, mere guppies in the old hockey pond but we were visited in our tiny dressing room after winning the game by the venerable sports writer of the Globe and Mail, Dick Beddoes. The next day he devoted part of his column to us.
Quite a few years later I got to see a playoff game in which the Maple Leafs lost to the Canadiens in a double overtime game. It was the last hockey game I ever attended with my late father. We stood for most of the two overtime periods in the end blues.
Tomorrow is the tenth anniversary of the day they tore down the Gardens. A terrible shame.