In the hockey world, the phrase "centre of the hockey universe" is often used to describe Toronto, but I never understood why. To me, they were always a Leafs town, not a hockey town. They have multiple junior teams that play to less than full arenas and I would bet that your average Torontonian know little more about the Leafs other than it's expensive and it's been a very long time sicne they've been good. Well I'm tired of them getting all the love. They definitely support the Leafs, but otherwise as a hockey city, it's a joke.
That's why I absolutely had to laugh when I saw this today. It was an email (click on it to enlarge and read easier) from the Sens inviting me to purchase Memorial Cup tickets to the Canadian junior championship in Mississauga, a team owned by none other than Eugene Melnyk. Yep, the GTA with over 5 million people, failed to sell out the small Hershey Centre, that has all of 5,800 seats. It seriously made me laugh, then smile with a smugness of a Vancouver Canucks fan.
So out of curiousity I decided to check what tickets were available with a week left until its start. Surely if there were a few tickets left, it would be for undesired games in less than favorable locations right? Um not exactly. I decided to swing for the fences and try for the final right away. I expected it to be completely sold out of course, but to my surprise, look what I could have purchased.
Your eyes do not decieve you (click to enlarge). With one week left until the tournament starts, I was able to buy tickets FIVE rows from the ice for the championship final match. It's pretty embarrassing and pathetic if you ask me that they can't even sell 5,800 tickets to the final. I can only imagine how desperate they must truly be to send this offer to Sens season ticket holders last minute. But this isn't a post to bash the Sens organization, but to bash the city of Toronto for their lack of hockey love.
Ottawa is the true hockey country, and possibly the best hockey city in the world. Just consider that we regularly put 18,000+ in SBP for 40+ Sens games a year, plus at least 8,000 per game for the 67's and another 2,500 or so for each Gatineau Olympiques game.
Not impressed? Well let's roll out a few more facts shall we. The last time the same Memorial Cup came to Ottawa was 1999. The tournament AVERAGED 10,525 fans per game. Not just the final, or when the 67's played, but AVERAGED for the 8 games played in the tournament. Not satisfied? The World Junior's were here 2 years ago and all we did was set a tournament attendance record, averaging 14,622 per game, for Junior hockey. Those are truly impressive numbers to say the least.
So next time you hear someone say Toronto is the centre of the hockey universe, set em' straight. Hell they aren't even the centre of the hockey province, we are!
UPDATE @3pm Thursday May 12th: As if things couldn't be worse, the Senators waited all of one day to now send them to everyone on their mailing list, no longer just season ticket holders. Just when you think it can't get worse. Just another day in Senators fail land.