August 20, 2011
Party time for MLSEL
By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Okay, let’s get this out of the way: Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. President Richard Peddie guarantees that the Leafs will make the playoffs this season.
“Absolutely,” Peddie said, when asked if he was certain about his prediction. “But I guess Burkie’s going to kill me now.”
I don’t get it. Everyone seems to cower around Leafs GM Brian Burke these days. Sure, he growls and barks and snarls. But so does the dog next door. Then again, the dog next door is closer to winning a Stanley Cup than Burkie is.
Hey, I’m just kidding. Burkie has the Leafs on the right track. They’ve got two great, young goalies, a solid core on defence and a gifted goal scorer up front. All they need is 11 more quality forwards and the parade is on.
I caught up with Peddie at Maple Leaf Square on Saturday, where MLSEL was throwing a street party in celebration of ... well, I’m not sure what they were celebrating. They haven’t won anything. The cynic in me figures the party was a ruse to sell condos.
“This is a way for the organization to thank our loyal fans,” one of the MLSEL media guys said.
I suggested that winning a few games might be a good way to thank your fans. But, hey, what do I know about selling condos.
But you’ve to give Peddie credit. The MLSEL poobah was a good enough sport to take his turn in the dunk tank, though he was able to do only one session because he hurt his back falling into the water. I kid you not. The man was in pain.
I asked Peddie who was next in the tank.
“Well, Burkie was supposed to be here,” he said. “But he’s out shooting something. I think it’s caribou this time.”
I guess if Burkie isn’t signing big, dumb animals, he’s hunting them.
The MLSEL media boys had a tough time finding guys for the dunk tank after Peddie bailed. One guy they threw in was Chris Hebb, the VP of Broadcasting. But who the hell wants to dunk Chris Hebb? No offence to Hebb. I’m sure he’s a nice guy and everything. But the whole idea of dunking someone is to get back at them, so to speak.
I can see fans being sour with Peddie or Burkie or Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo, and wanting to dunk them. But Chris Hebb?
I couldn’t take the excitement of the dunk tank any longer, so I decided to wander around a little. I noticed a referee on stilts, confirming my belief that all referees are clowns.
Then I wandered over to the autograph booth and saw that there was huge lineup to get Cody Franson’s autograph. The line almost went right to Lake Shore Blvd. You know this town is Leafs crazy when 100 people line up to get Cody Franson’s autograph. Again, nothing against Cody Franson, who could be a nice fit on the Leafs blue line this season. But he’s no Aki Berg.
I noticed that most of the people at the party were wearing Leafs or Raptors shirt, and there weren’t many wearing TFC sweaters. Then again, the event started at 10 a.m., and most TFC fans are drunk by then.
Another one of the event’s attractions was a trailer set up inside to look like the Leafs dressing room. And boy was it authentic. It looked exactly like the real Leafs dressing room right after a game.
That is, there wasn’t a player to be found anywhere.
Down from the trailer was a tent where fans where able to have their picture taken with the coveted Voyageurs Cup. I’m not sure what the Voyageurs Cup is, but I think the Toronto Sun fastball team won it back ’91, when hockey writer Lance Hornby was the manager.
As I headed toward the exit, I spotted Cody Franson being whisked away by some security guys. He appeared to be in a daze, no doubt because he had just been asked by hundreds of fans for an autograph. That doesn’t happen in Nashville.
Then former Raptors favourite Muggsy Bogues sat down in the autograph booth. You have to get Muggsy credit. He chatted with pretty well every fan, including one dimwit who asked him to sign his Muggsy Bogues jersey.
“I got it half-price,” the guy said.
Muggsy didn’t look impressed.