Posts Tagged ‘sports’
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports on one sign that might well be an indicator of Torontonians’ increasing disenchantment with the underperforming Toronto Maple Leafs. Is this the end of Leafs Nation?
On Monday, the team announced its lowest attendance figure — 18,366 — for a regular-season game in the 16-year history of the building. It lost 2-1 to Minnesota that night to see its record fall to 8-32-3 since mid-December.
All of that losing is finally taking a toll at the box office, although Toronto still sits seventh overall in NHL attendance this season and charges the highest ticket prices in the league.
Among the remaining home games on the schedule are two visits by Ottawa and another from Montreal in the April 11 regular-season finale, all of which should draw crowds above the ACC’s capacity of 18,819.
An extremely high percentage of Leafs tickets are held by season seat-holders and the waiting list to become one of those stretches back for years. That has traditionally made it tough for the average fan to get inside the building (to say nothing of the price).
However, with the team headed for its worst finish in more than two decades, fans have started to stay home. Strangely enough, the Leafs actually boast a winning record at the ACC — 19-16-1 compared with 8-25-5 on the road — but have been booed often there and saw sweaters thrown on the ice earlier this season.
Torontoist’s Megan Marrelli describes how Eastern Commerce Collegiate, an east-end Toronto school with less than a hundred students set to close at the end of the year, has a strong living tradition of basketball.
In a brightly lit sixth-floor gymnasium, coach Kevin Jeffers watches his Eastern Commerce Saints battle their arch rival, the Oakwood Barons. He’s anticipating a heated match—Oakwood is one of the top teams in the city, and the Saints are arguably the most storied high-school program in Toronto’s history. Over the years, more than 50 NCAA Division I and CIS players have emerged from the program, including former Toronto Raptor and NBA all-star Jamaal Magloire. Basketball is a source of pride for the school, and the team’s pedigree is impressive. They’re the defending city champion, although they lost to Oakwood in the provincial playoffs last year.
But as Eastern Commerce squares off against Oakwood in this year’s regional championship, the Saints’ minds are not as focused as their legacy might suggest. Because today isn’t just another game, it’s also a day of reckoning that Jeffers and the team knew would come. Hours before game time, students and faculty of the 89-year-old Eastern Commerce learned that their school will close in June.
Despite sparse enrolment—Eastern Commerce only has 62 students, and for the past two years has not had a grade-nine class—the Saints are one of the best high-school basketball teams in Toronto, ranking fifth in the city. There are two weeks left in the season, and in the historic life of Eastern Commerce basketball. In that time, they intend to show Toronto what being an Eastern Commerce Saint means.
[. . .]
The Eastern Commerce Saints are close to the hearts of many people, and that’s particularly true of Sialtsis; he’s one of the guys who got the program off the ground in the 1970s. He was around when the team won its first city title in 1976 under the coaching of Simeon Mars, and the Saints quickly became known for their talent and tenacity, and things grew from there.
The team went undefeated during the 1994-1995 school year and won OFSAA gold. In 1996, they won it again, and then won four consecutive OFSAA titles between 2002 and 2005, with Jeffers new to the coaching squad. By then, the Saints had become the team to beat, and the school became known for its basketball far beyond Toronto.