fresh cvv

Blue Monday and home loss fails to dampen spirits in Toronto

TORONTO – It may have been Blue Monday, the day identified as the most depressing of the year, but in hockey-mad Toronto it was party-time as the Maple Leafs played their first home game since the end of a bitter lockout.

With Christmas bills coming in and New Year’s resolutions going out of the window, Welsh researcher Dr Cliff Arnall calculated that January 21 marked the low ebb of the calendar for many people.

Hockey fans in Toronto seemed oblivious to the doom and gloom, however, and the jolt of euphoria from the return of the NHL to its biggest market was not even dampened by a 2-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

“I thought the fans were very energetic, they were loud even on a night where we didn’t provide a lot of offense,” Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle told reporters.

“If you see the work ethic, like Colton Orr steps up and takes on a very, very large man, those are the kind of things you are going to need.

“We just don’t want ordinary.”

Along with quitting smoking, going on a diet and working out, one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions among disgruntled NHL fans was that they would make greedy owners and players pay for dragging them through a 113-day labor dispute.

But on a biting cold winter night in Toronto, all seemed forgiven as Leafs fans were quick to open their wallets.

Even with some of the NHL’s steepest ticket prices, the Maple Leafs have sold out every game since moving to the Air Canada Center (ACC) in 1997.

LITTLE DAMAGE

The first NHL team to be valued at $1 billion according to Forbes, the Maple Leafs’ performance on the ice has not been as spectacular, having missed the playoffs for the last seven seasons and not hoisted a Stanley Cup in almost half a century.

The lockout appears to have caused little damage to the Maple Leaf brand, which remains as popular as ever.

Toronto’s season opener against the Canadiens in Montreal on Saturday drew a regular season record audience on CBC, while happy scalpers were back doing a brisk business and diehard fans lined up all night in frigid Arctic conditions for a chance to land a free ticket to Monday’s home opener.

The opening night pre-game festivities were literally out of this world, as Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, with the help of technical wizardry, conducting the ceremonial opening faceoff from the international space station.

But it was back to earth with a bump for long-suffering Leafs fans as the Sabres jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Cody Hodgson and Jason Pominville.

Nazem Kadri brought the arena to life with a late powerplay goal but could not put another puck past Buffalo netminder Ryan Miller, who was superb in handling 35 shots.

“A couple of times we could have easily tied it up, we applied some great pressure at the end, but unfortunately came up a little short,” Kadri said.

(Editing by John O’Brien)

Read more :
  • LOCOG issue statement on tennis tickets
    The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games have released a statement following some fans' anger on day seven of the Olympic tennis event at Wimbledon. Supporters with tickets for...
  • French still haunted by claims of style over substance
    MELBOURNE - It is a long-standing cliche in men's tennis that French players have an abundance of flair but would rather look good than get results. Joie de vivre? Tick. Style over substan...
  • Marbury arrives in Manila
    Former NBA star guard Stephon Marbury arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Monday at 2:20 p.m. aboard Malaysia Airlines. Marbury, who now plays for the Beijing Ducks in the...
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga happy with World Tour draw
    Number seven seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has revealed that he is happy with his draw for the ATP World Tours Finals next week. The Frenchman has been drawn alongside former world number ones R...
  • Caroline Wozniacki splits from coach Ricardo Sanchez
    Caroline Wozniacki has fired coach Ricardo Sanchez, just two months after employing the Spaniard. Sanchez, who previously worked with Jelena Jankovic, teamed up with the Dane at the beginn...
  • PH jins shine in Jakarta Championship
    The national junior tae kwon do poomsae team won two gold and two bronze medals in the 2nd Junior Asian Poomsae Championships held in Jakarta, Indonesia. World Championships gold medalist ...
  • Thrilling come-from-behind win for Mizoram in T Ao tournament
    Defending champions Mizoram scored a come-from-behind 4-3 victory against Sikkim while Manipur and Tripura played out a 1-1 draw in the T Ao football tournament at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stad...
  • Li rediscovers grand slam magic to make semis
    MELBOURNE - Winning Asia's first grand slam singles title became a burden that sapped the confidence out of Li Na, but the 30-year-old Chinese felt it come flooding back in reaching her thi...