Hockey fans might be booking a few flights to Toronto in 2017.
The Maple Leafs will celebrate their 100th anniversary that year, and the Original Six franchise wants to host multiple events to help celebrate the occasion. That list includes the NHL Draft, the All-Star Game and the Winter Classic.
“It’s not a splash. I just think Toronto — it’s our 100th anniversary, and this is the greatest hockey city on Earth,” Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment CEO Tim Leiweke said, per Luke Fox of Sportsnet. “I think we owe it to our fans. And we’re telling the league that they owe it to our fans. They don’t disagree, but we’ve got to go through a process to win it. I think we’ll win it. I think we’ll get there. But we got to go bid on it.”
If recent history is any indication, Toronto should like its chances of hosting multiple events during its centennial campaign.
“Montreal got it all in a short period of time for their 100th anniversary (in 2009), and that’s not lost on (NHL commissioner Gary Bettman) and what he wants to do to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the league,” Leiweke said. “That said, we still have to bid on it, and we still have to win it.”
Since joining MLSE in 2013, Leiweke has helped bring the 2016 NBA All-Star Game to the Air Canada Centre.
The Leafs haven’t hosted a major event since the 2000 All-Star Game. Toronto became the first Canadian team to play in a Winter Classic last season when it defeated the Detroit Red Wings in a shootout at the University of Michigan. The league’s marquee outdoor event never has been played in a Canadian city.
Hosting all of these events would be awesome for Leafs fans. However, there is one event the team probably won’t host in 2017: a Stanley Cup playoff game.
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