When Toronto Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe announced plans to build a new hockey arena in the midst of the Great Depression, many laughed. The doubters were silenced, however, when the grand building was completed just five and a half months after its June 1st, 1931 start date. The first hockey game in the building saw the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Chicago Black Hawks in a game they lost. The first season in the building was a great success on and off the ice and culminated with the Toronto Maple Leafs winning their first Stanley Cup championship.

The building, designed by the same architects who were responsible for two other Toronto landmarks, the Royal York Hotel and Union Station, quickly became a Toronto icon. Over the years, the Leafs won ten more Stanley Cups, eight of which were won on the ice at Maple Leaf Gardens. It was at the Gardens where Darryl Sittler, the former Leaf captain, scored an unmatched ten points in a game versus the Bruins. Gardens was the site of Foster Hewitt’s first nation-wide hockey radio broadcast in 1933 from his famous gondola. The Maple Leaf Gardens hosted then-princess and current Queen Elizabeth for an exhibition hockey game and has been home to many memories, many records, and many dreams.

On February 13th, 1999 the Gardens shut its doors to NHL hockey the same way it began, with a loss to the Blackhawks. The result of the game was insignificant when compared to the emotional post-game ceremony. Hundreds of former Leafs took to the ice for a final farewell, with the crowd on their feet for the last time, applauding their heroes and cheering the building that they had called home for sixty-seven years.

Maple Leaf Gardens continued to be a hockey building after the Leafs moved on to the shiny new Air Canada Centre, becoming the home of the St. Michael’s Majors of the Ontario Hockey League until ’99-00.


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