Yesterday afternoon Bri pulled a pair of $42 tickets for last night’s Leafs/Flyers game–so naturally, we bought them. The game itself was the undeniable nadir of the Leafs’ season thus far (well, apart from Mats Sundin Cyclopesing himself), a boring, insipid 5-2 loss to Philadelphia that was notable for a Mike Richards goal scored when the Flyers were two men down (how is that even possible?). But on a personal level the game was notable for at least two reasons. One, it was mine and Bri’s first NHL game together–and yes, my would-be sports bigamist-of-a-girlfriend was often heard cheering loudly for the Maple Leafs (although, to her credit, she did try balancing her treachery with at least one spirited “Go Flames Go!” chant). Two, it was the fiftieth time I’ve been to the Air Canada Centre; coincidentally, my first was a Leafs/Flyers game as well (a playoff game which the Leafs won 2-1 in overtime). And without getting bogged down in self-absorbed hand-wringing, here are some of the other things I’ve seen at the ACC in the past six-and-a-half years:
- 23 Leaf games (including two playoff games); Leafs’ all-time record when I’m in attendance is 10-5-8 (I’m lumping “regulation ties” etc into the tie category…stupid NHL standings)
- 12 Raptor games; Raps are 5-7 when I’m in da house (and yes, I just wrote “in da house”)
- Some of the biggest names in music history, including (among others) the Rolling Stones, the Who, Pearl Jam (twice), U2, Eric Clapton, and Bruce Springsteen. And since we’re on the subject, I’ve also seen Our Lady Peace, the Tragically Hip, Tool, Green Day, the Beastie Boys and System of a Down at the Air Canada Centre. Which isn’t counting opening bands or the veritable Murderers’ Row of artists who comprised Music Without Borders Live in October 2001.
Recently I’ve talked a lot about the Fort William Gardens in Thunder Bay being the building where I grew up. Which is still true–I wish I had a list of all the times I’ve been there, even for things like “participating in a skating show” or “playing the pregame ceremonies at the Scott Tournament of Hearts”–but which shouldn’t obscure the major role that the Air Canada Centre has played in my life in recent years. And if that sounds excessively sentimental…well, that’s what I do. For the record, event #51, Leafs/Rangers, goes down November 15.