They call it the battle for Ontario. The Ottawa Senators against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
One of the publishers I deal with at work schmoozed me, along with Joel and Louise. We’ve given them a fair amount of business over the last little while, each of us involved in a different part of the process, so he treated us to a Sens game. Even though my team (the Leafs) got pounced 7–2, it was still an exciting game; lots of end-to-end action, close penalty kills, and Heatly scored a hat-trick. The Leafs were simply out-finessed. Great seats too. Coincidentally, we ran into Rockstar Jeff at the game.
Eva Avila, this year’s winner of Canadian Idol, lead the national anthem. To my surprise, I was able to follow with the French, but it was all phonetic. Something I learned in grade school, but never actually understood.
It was a little disheartening to see how everything is so commercialized. Scotiabank place, VIA Rail goals (complete with train horn when someone scores), Jubilee Timex time. Even Pizza Pizza sponsors a free slice if the Sens win and score six goals or more.
There were probably an even number of Sens fans and than Leafs fans, but the latter were definitely more vocal. Any Sens chants were drowned out. It’s easy to tell how galvanized fans get in such a rivalry from comments I received on a previous post.
The best part was before the game even started. Master Corporal Paul Franklin from Edmonton, who lost both his legs in a suicide attack in Afghanistan, came to drop the ceremonial first puck. They rolled out the red carpet to centre ice, and he hobbled along with metal legs. Both sides of the rivalry cheered and clapped as one, louder than any other point in the night, proud of their surviving soldier.
It was quite a poignant, misty-eyed moment.