Saturday, February 14, 2009

Closing Maple Leaf Gardens: 10 years later

It was 10 years ago that I witnessed the final hockey game in Maple Leaf Gardens. I landed a seat in the Greens to witness a little bit of hockey history. The Leafs looked dismal losing to Chicago 6-2. For you trivia fans, Bob Probert scored the last goal in the Gardens.

The place must be dark and depressing these days. Most of the seats have been auctioned off. The doors have seldom been open to the public these last 10 years. Who can forget the crude metal urinal troughs, the voice of announcer Paul Morris, and Harold Ballard's bunker in the end Golds. It used to be a hockey shrine for decades but in the final 30 years its been a place burdened with futility, frustration and scandals.

But there 11 Stanley Cups won there, the 1972 Summit Series was played in the Gardens, both Elvis Presley and the Beatles performed there, Muhammad Ali fought in the Gardens and where even Winston Churchill spoke there. It was a cultural icon in its day. Something the Air Canada Centre will likely never achieve.