The Toronto Maple Leafs have a peculiar knack for making things hard on their fans. Whether it’s missing the playoffs by a single point, or holding their annual outdoor practice on the coldest day of the year, being a Leafs fan is always somewhat of a challenge. On Monday, the Blue and White treated their loyal followers to the latter – a bitterly cold outdoor practice at the newly refurbished Withrow Park rink.
It was a far cry from the Bay Street crowd nibbling on over-priced Sushi from the cozy platinum seats at the A.C.C., but that didn’t stop 250 students from Pape Avenue Public School from enjoying the rare spectacle.
And the facility couldn’t have been better – Withrow Park is one of five city-owned rinks to undergo a major facelift thanks to the Leafs, who in collaboration with The Home Depot and the City of Toronto, have taken part in the Hockey Rink Legacy Program.
Other refurbished rinks include: Riverdale Park East, Greenwood Park, Jimmie Simpson and Monarch Park.
Dozens of young fans braved the frigid temperatures to see their hockey heroes in action. Most of the players kept moving fast for their warm-up, which literally turned into just that. “It’s great. It’s Toronto,” shrugs forward Robbie Earl. “This is the epitome of where we are, and having the kids come out” makes it even better.
It’s good practice for the Buds, who’ll be taking their act on the road this week to a place that knows a thing or two about winter cold. They’ll be in Buffalo – albeit indoors – on Wednesday.