Sunday, June 2, 2024

Return To Maple Leaf Gardens

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

If there was ever a time that I needed a camera phone, it was on my 20th birthday that occurred on December 29, 1982.

I went with a friend to Toronto and we toured the city, but the sporting event that topped off the trip was watching the Maple Leafs host the Montreal Canadiens. This game occurred at Maple Leaf Gardens and we bought the tickets from a fan that had a pair. I told him to give us a break and it was my birthday. That fan was great and we bought those for $20.00 apiece.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Maple Leafs vs the Canadiens is the biggest rivalry in hockey and ranks among the best in Professional Sports.

For those of you that haven’t been to Toronto, it’s a must see. On our recent trip, I drove through China and Italy town. We covered the Blue Jays vs Kansas City Royals, went to the CN Tower and ate at the Spaghetti Factory.

Before she met me, my wife’s hockey team was the Milwaukee Admirals. Since we’ve been together, her NHL alliance is the Detroit Red Wings. We watch a lot of hockey together at home and she’s taken pictures covering the Florida Panthers and the Red Wings.

What she would experience in Toronto going to Maple Leaf Gardens was a hockey lesson that would give her insights about the NHL for over 100 years. Maple Leaf Gardens was built in 1912 and renovated in 2009.

Nowadays, when new stadiums are built, it’s automatic that the old ones get imploded or the wrecking ball. Maple Leaf Gardens is registered as a National Historic Site of Canada. It is a historic building located on the northwest corner of Carlton Street and Church Street.

It’s been also called “MLG,” “The Carlton Street Cashbox,” “The Church of Hockey” and “The Shrine.”

When the Maple Leafs moved downtown, I talked to a person and he said the building was renovated for $80 Million. There is a grocery store on the ground floor and it’s marked with signs of what was on that level.

There is also an athletic complex that was named “Mattamy Athletic Centre at the Gardens” and the ice rink is located on the sixth level, was named “Mattamy Home Ice.”

During the course of our visit, Candy was very busy taking picture of me at Maple Leaf Gardens and I enjoyed showing her all the history in that building. She was truly impressed with what she saw. I’ve been to the Hockey Hall of Fame which has now been moved to a different location. But I told her that the road to the Hall of Fame for many of these players came through Maple Leaf Gardens.

The photos in this story will give you a great feel for this venue and all the history connected with it.

The parking structure is below ground, level one is the grocery store and centre ice is in aisle 25, level two is a basketball court for the college, levels, three, four and five. 

At times in life, there aren’t any do overs. 

But that wasn’t the case here.

When we covered the NFL Draft from April 25-27 in Detroit, I had already made the decision to take Candy to Niagara Falls and Toronto. The two places are about an hour away from each other so it was a no-Brainer to hit them both on the same trip.

But I knew going back to Maple Leaf Gardens was my top priority! Thankfully, now I have the photos of what the use of the venue is, plus going to the Blue Jays vs the Royals enabled me to catch up with My friend Don Mattingly!

It doesn’t get any better than this!

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter/X @TribuneSouth.

To see his broadcasts, subscribe at no cost to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel.

Finally, Scott’s book, “Lessons From The Microphone” is available on Amazon-Kindle and Barnes & Noble.




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