The first potentially annual Leafs Fan Fest ended tremendously for most of Leafsnation and the organization as a whole. From Friday to Sunday, Leafs Fan Fest is an opportunity to explore the Air Canada Centre, as well as meet with Leafs players and alumni.
Although I wasn’t able to experience the festival that was open for more than thirty thousand people, there were a number of attractions that caught my eye. Events inside the rink included hockey shootouts, a picture of yourself dropping the puck, and even a question period for the players and Leafs management. As I look through the pictures of fans dropping the puck for Pittsburgh Penguins’ superstar Sidney Crosby and Leafs’ captain Dion Phaneuf, there are a few imperfections to the setup. The cardboard figures of Phaneuf and Crosby look as though they are on the carpet with the fans for the faceoff, and not on the ice like a typical ceremonial puck drop. At the other end of the rink was the question period where fans had the chance to ask the players and management a question about the upcoming season. This was a great opportunity for the fans to interact with their favourites, and learn the objectives that the organization has for the upcoming season.
The best attractions for Leafsnation was probably the unveiling of Legends Row and the tours of the dressing room. Legends Row had unveiled three all-time greats: Teeder Kennedy of the 50’s, legendary 60’s goaltender Johnny Bower, and fan favourite of the 70’s as well as present day, Darryl Sittler. These three greats will remain at the heart of the city standing marvellously in front of the Air Canada Centre. Last but not least the tour of the Leafs’ dressing room was one attraction that I was in awe of. Just walking through a dressing room that has so much history with the likes of Mats Sundin from the past and Phil Kessel of the present makes it that much more appreciating of where you are.
Leafs Fan Fest was definitely a great experience for the fans. The one problem was waiting in lines to have autographs and photographs with the players. The one thing that people have to realize is that with the largest fan base in the NHL, you’re bound to be waiting a long time just to see your favourite players at major events. Good things come for those who wait.