February 16, 2009
Memories of Maple Leaf Gardens
This past week was the 10th anniversary of the closing of Maple Leaf Gardens. It has sat dark and weathered, which is probably better than being turned into a grocery store.
With the arrival of the anniversary came a slew of feature media stories. Here's the best:
Decade In The Dark - Tim Wharnsby, Globe & Mail
Gardens Of Stone - Stephen Johns, Torontoist
A decade has passed since Leafs vacated Gardens - Howard Berger, National Post
Gretzky's Memories to Ballard's Bunker - Mike Zeisberger, Toronto Sun
I made the journey to MLG back in summer 2005, my first trip to Toronto. The grand old rink was part of my hockey itinerary. I had already seen the Hockey Hall of Fame, Wayne Gretzky's Restaurant and Legends of the Game collectible store.
In the midst of very humid hot spell, I walked all the way from Union Station up to Cash Box on Carlton Street. Yes, I realize taking the subway would have been a lot of easier, and by the time I had walked all the way up there in that sweltering heat I wish I had. I love to city crawl and though I made many stops on the way up Yonge Street, I was beat by the time I got to MLG.
And that is when my most poignant memory of Maple Leaf Gardens happened. I was hungry, very thirsty, and looking for a place out of the sun to cool down. I thought I had found the perfect spot - a restaurant with shaded sidewalk seating directly across from the old main entrance to MLG. I do not remember the name of the restaurant, and judging by the food and the reported tough economy in this now dying part of town, I doubt it is still there. It was a misplaced family restaurant with food that made Denny's seem gourmet.
Yeah, the food was the worst I had eaten on my entire vacation, but the tall glass of ice water sure hit the spot. And I was sitting across from Maple Leaf Gardens, once the proud home of Syl Apps, Teeder Kennedy, Johnny Bower, Frank Mahovlich, Dave Keon, Darryl Sittler, Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour.
Does it get any better than that?
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Joe, You described my EXACT itinerary everytime I make it back home to The Big Smoke. I always budget one day to hit the Hall, Gretzky's, Legend's and the Gardens. I've been doin that everytime I go back since moving out west in '94. I agree, the walk up from Union is waaay better than the quick subway ride.
If you took out the Stanley Cup from the equation, I would wonder if Legend's is every bit as good as the HHOF.
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