The city of Toronto is known for a lot of great things. The CN Tower. Lake Ontario. The biggest zoo in Canada. But the greatest thing it’s known for is its hockey team, the Maple Leafs.
Here are three reasons no hockey fan visiting Toronto should make like a tree and “leaf” without seeing this one-of-a-kind team doing what it does best on its home turf.
As the old saying goes, home is where the heart is. If that’s true, then it’s hard to imagine a sports team with a better heart than the Leafs, as evidenced by their home, the gigantic, luxurious, cutting-edge Scotiabank Arena.
Occupying 665,000 square feet of prime real estate in Toronto, this incredible structure has won more than 40 awards in its lifetime, and has definitely earned its status as both one of the busiest arenas in the world and the single most photographed location in Canada on Instagram. Inside, the Scotiabank Arena is designed to provide an excellent view of the action at any angle or distance. Outside, a towering 62×35 foot LED screen dazzles tailgating audiences with crisp colors and a pristine image, even under direct sunlight.
What’s more, for sports fans looking for luxury, the Scotiabank Arena offers three full restaurants, multiple private suites with street-level entrances, a state-of-the-art sound system, and even its own in-house brewery. Bottoms up.
Before the modern Scotiabank Arena, the Leafs made their home at Maple Leaf Gardens. That’s appropriate not only because of the name, but because of the site’s storied legacy: The team won the Stanley Cup no less than 11 times while there. It hosted the first NHL All-Star Game. At the time it was built, it was the largest arena of its kind in the country.
Similarly, the Leafs themselves have one of the most hallowed histories in all of hockey. Before settling on the name “Maple Leafs,” the team was one of the four founding groups that helped start the NHL back in 1917, going on to become the first NHL team to win the vaunted Stanley Cup. The Leafs would later be part of the “original six,” the legendary groups that ushered the NHL through the Great Depression to keep the sport alive despite crushing economic stress.
Over the years, the Leafs have won more championships than almost any other team, second only to the Montreal Canadiens. With such an outstanding record, it’s not surprising that the Leafs have seen 62 former players inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame. And they’re just getting started.
No sports team would get anywhere without a dedicated fan base cheering them on. Luckily, the Leafs have some of the most loyal fans of any team in the world, sticking by their side through highs and lows, wins and losses, streaks and droughts.
Consider the fact that from 1946 to 1999, every home game the Leafs played sold out the arena. For 53 years, not a single home game was anything less than packed. Leafs fans—whose ranks include rapper Drake, comedian Mike Myers, and even superstar Keanu Reeves—bleed blue and white. Whether their passion takes the form of painting one’s face Braveheart-style or angrily pelting players with waffles, it’s hard to deny its infectiousness. From rapturous celebration to heartbreaking defeat, Leafs fans have held fast through it all, creating a bond with their beloved team that’s second to none.
Simply put, no one takes hockey more seriously than Canadians. And no Canadians take hockey more seriously than Leafs fans. Just watch out for flying waffles.