The 2013-2014 Toronto Maple Leafs season has finally arrived in Toronto, with a sea of blue and white flooding Maple Leaf Square for this year’s tailgate party.
A DJ, giveaways, a jumbo television and bar tables scattered around the square make for a party Leafs fans have been waiting for since last season’s crumbling finish at the hands of the Boston Bruins.
One fan is here for the party, but chooses to sport a Bruins jersey. A choir of boos follows him wherever he goes.
The tailgate party, running until the conclusion of the game, is attracting fans, not only from every corner of the GTA, but a few provinces over as well.
Draped in a Maple Leafs poncho, Tony Merritt made the trek from Alberta, just to see his beloved Maple Leafs play, saying it’s like a ritual for him.
“I’ve been coming here from Calgary for the home opener, banner raisings and other special events for the last 11 years,” said Merritt, a die-hard Maple Leafs fan since the sixties. “I used to watch with my father and grandfather every Saturday night. I just have the passion for the game.”
Hundreds of fans are showcasing the love for their hockey team despite brisk conditions that are expected to continue cooling as the game draws closer.
Regardless, it doesn’t stop these fans wearing helmets, boots and sporting face paint, who have been anxiously waiting for home opener since last season.
Andrew Teodoro woke up at 8 a.m., –nearly 12 hours prior to game time– to line up five hours before the gates were set to open.
“This is what we live for, there’s blue and white running through our blood,” said Teodoro, amid a booming, but frequent, ‘Go Leafs Go’ chant. “We’re here to have fun, we’re here to support our team and this is what we cherish in this city.”
The Ottawa Senators are in town for the battle of Ontario with puck drop slated for just after 7 p.m. at a sold out Air Canada Centre.