Toronto Road Trip Recap: Rangers Take Two Points in Toronto, The Hockey Hall of Fame, Wayne Gretzky’s Restaurant & More

Myself, Borgata Ray & TJ doing something Lundqvist never did – touching the Stanley Cup!

What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. For the first time ever, I’m presenting three blogs on the same day. Again, you can read my two book reviews & WHA thoughts at http://doinow.com/wha and get my Rangers/Detroit review by visiting http://doinow.com/detroit

On Thursday, 2/18, my friends TJ, Borgata Ray & yours truly, collectively known as the Canadian Wrecking Crew, ventured out to hit our fourth Canadian city in a 15 month time span, as we visited Toronto, to watch the New York Rangers. We’ve already done Montreal, Edmonton and Calgary and out of the four trips, this one was my favorite.

The overall impression I got about Toronto is that it is New York’s Manhattan, except with friendlier people and less homeless people begging you for money. Not to say that there is no homeless in Toronto, but they aren’t ravaging the streets like Deblasio’s New York.

If you are a fan of the arts, there are tons of things for you to see and appreciate there. If you’re a foodie, there are tons of places for you to eat at. If you’re into the sights, the CN Tower has you covered. However, if you’re a fan of hockey, Toronto must be a city you visit in your lifetime. For us, it was a bucket list trip and the most fun I’ve had in Canada.

We set out on this trip to visit three places specifically. The  Air Canada Centre for Rangers vs Leafs, the Hockey Hall of Fame and Wayne Gretzky’s bar/restaurant. We were able to do all of them within two days, plus enjoy two nights of Toronto nightlife.

To say the Canadians can drink and hold their own would be an understatement. The way I was pounding Canadians (They don’t call them Molson’s there) and JP Wiser’s, in addition to winning a hockey trivia contest & a double darts game, I was named an honorary Canadian by the fine folks at both the “Tilted Kilt” and “Scotland’s Vineyard.” The biggest thing most Torontonians, I encountered, and myself agreed on, was “Fuck the Leafs!”

From all the bars we visited and from the game itself, most Toronto citizens are sick of the Leafs and their losing ways. When I talked to them about my frustrations with the contracts of the NY Rangers, specifically you know who, they could appreciate where I was coming from. Leaf fans want their whole team blown up, which sounds eerily alike most of the stuff I read on twitter from Ranger fans.

Due to bandwidth concerns and not wanting to freeze your phone, there are about 300 pictures from my trip on the BlueCollarBlueShirts.com Facebook page. You can view all of them at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1564026407193056/?ref=br_rs

For the purpose of this blog, I’m just using the ones I liked the best.

With only 48 hours to make our mark on Toronto, we decided after landing, we’d check into our hotel at the Esplanade. The Esplanade was a great place to stay because not only did you have a hotel bar, but you had about 8 different bars across the street. We didn’t have to venture out much to be entertained. The bars we hit were a blend of tourists and locals, so it was a good time. When going to other cities, I don’t like to go far off the beaten path, because I hate not knowing where I am. So this was perfect. Even better was that the Hockey Hall of Fame was right around the corner and the Air Canada Centre was 4 blocks away. Gotta thank Borgata Ray for picking out a hotel with a hell of a location.

Gretzky’s was another bucket list place to hit

After unpacking at the hotel, we walked several blocks down and dined at Gretzky’s. The place is what you would think it would be – a museum dedicated to Wayne Gretzky. Here are a few pics:

There is a wall of game worn items during each phase of Gretzky’s career. Here is his NYR section.

My friends appreciating the skates for door handles

A Gretzky burger or a Mario Lemieux burger upside down?

Where Gretzky made his name

Nothing like a fresh pint from Canada

We hit Gretzky’s in the mid-afternoon before work let out for most Toronto natives. The place was kind of quiet when we went. Our food was good, not blow-your-balls-off good, but it did its job. Walking around and taking a look at all of the artifacts from Gretzky’s career was a real treat. Supposedly it does great business before Toronto Blue Jays games, since it is located right down the block from the Rogers Centre.

I’ve ate in a ton of restaurants and drank in a ton of bars in my lifetime. As long as the food doesn’t taste like shit and the beer isn’t warm, then I’m happy. I’d recommend Gretzky’s to anyone, especially to a fan of hockey.

After doing some light casual bar hopping on our way back to the hotel, it was time to hit up the game. We wound up meeting some people from Frank Boucher’s resting place, in Kemptville, Ontario. They wound up talking to us since I was wearing my Frank Boucher jersey, which started the conversation. I must be the only person in the world with a Frank Boucher Rangers jersey! They were very nice people and we had a blast drinking with them and learning their opinions on hockey. They also introduced us to Alexander Keith’s beer, which is a light IPA. Wasn’t bad, but I’ll stick with my Blue Lights!

Raanta started off shaky but wound up having one of his best games of the season.

Like all Canadian arenas, the Air Canada allows people with ducats to walk in and out of the building during intermission to smoke or get a breath of fresh air. It sucks they don’t do that in NY or in NJ anymore. What’s the difference? In Toronto, they metal detect you again, so that can be a nuisance but worth the trade-off. I mean is anyone really going outside to grab a smoke and a shotgun?

The Air Canada Centre was spacious. We wound up scoring tickets in the 11th row in section 119. I said earlier Toronto was just like NY. Well the Air Canada Centre was just like MSG. Suits and ties littered the 100 bowl. People eating sushi were seen. People drinking drinks with umbrellas in them. We wound up sitting near some cool people and had a fun time bullshitting with them.

Out of the four cities I’ve been to, Toronto was the least rabid. It felt like MSG, where people go to eat, be seen and just be at the event. Montreal was easily the most passionate set of people I’ve seen at a game. Edmonton was second. Calgary is Toronto-lite. Toronto was definitely BOUGIAS!

View from my seats

By the time you read this, it will be Monday and I’m working on the Redwings/Rangers blog. No reason to really recap this game in-depth like usual. You all know what’s happened by now and I’m going to save my team and player thoughts for the Wings/Rangers blog. I’m just glad the Rangers won this game. For the record, during the “Canadian Wrecking Crew” excursions to Canada, we’ve amassed a 1-2-1 record. Thank you Toronto for shitting the bed and letting me see my Rangers win on the road! Perhaps that’s why i thought this was the best trip ever!

While the Bell Centre in Montreal is new, just like the Air Canada Centre, I felt the Bell did a better job of appreciating the Habs history. Maybe because the Hockey Hall of Fame is across the street, but I didn’t get a feel that the Air Canada Centre promoted their history well enough. I was expecting to see statues dedicated to Conn Smythe or big murals dedicated to the 1967 team. I didn’t see any of that around my travels of the arena. The Bell Centre has a damn museum dedicated to the Habs, and a great one at that. Again, maybe it’s because the HHOF is right down the road, which is why the Leafs don’t have the same set up as Montreal.

Here are some pics I took:

Not a great season for Bernier

This was cool. During the national anthem, one side hoisted a Leafs flag while the other side held up a flag of Canada

I think this pic was taken after the cheap shot to McDonagh.

There was a Ranger fan sitting behind us wearing a Rangers hat with Zucc’s autograph while wearing a Leafs jersey. In Canada, I’ve found out that fans will support players just as much as they support teams. Kinda like me and my support for Talbot & Jagr!

Us 3 assholes had plenty to celebrate as the Rangers escaped with a 4-2 win

Overall, despite the win, I wasn’t that impressed with the Air Canada Centre. Nothing against the people we sat with, as they were all nice, but the building felt like just another corporate building designed to cater the rich while telling the families to go fuck themselves. With the shit the Yankees are pulling and what we see in sports today, where do teams expect to get their next generation of fans from, if kids can’t afford to go to these games?

The Hockey Hall of Fame lived up to the hype.

After celebrating a wee bit after the game, we woke up the next morning to tackle the Hockey Hall of Fame. You can lose hours in this place (and dollars via the Spirit of Hockey Museum store) but it was worth it.

The HHOF is huge with exhibits covering everything and anything hockey. International hockey. Olympic hockey. Womens hockey. Rebel league hockey. Pre-NHL hockey. No puck is left un-turned!

The HHOF has every trophy in league existence. You’re even allowed to touch the Stanley Cup! There are also interactive video games you can play, a nok hockey set-up and bubble hockey to play. There are statues, exhibits with game worn equipment and everything else you can imagine.

If there is one thing I’d recommend – skip the movie in the Tim Horton theatre. That’s 23 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

Again, check the facebook page for all the pics, but here are a few of my favorite:

I was trying to hatch a plan on how I could drink a beer out of it. I was told that wouldn’t be happening by the keeper of the Cup!

Back Aftuh Dis

Number 11

Potvin Sucks

These wool jerseys had to reek after games

Patrick Roy’s locker in the Montreal Canadien’s All Star locker room

The Wayne Gretzky 802 goals exhibit

1994 Rangers

Frank Boucher would eventually be given the Lady Byng trophy outright

The Museum store

Again, check the BlueCollarBlueShirts.com Facebook Group for more pictures.

All in all, we got to see the Rangers win in Toronto. We dined at Gretzky’s like champions. We were honored and had a great experience at the Hall of Fame. To be honest with you, we were there so long that I had to use the bathroom. So in a way, I even took a Hall of Fame shit! What more can you ask for?

Thank you to Toronto and the people we met. I know I got a few new readers to this blog, so thanks for your hospitality. You made our trip even more enjoyable.

Don’t forget to check out the two other blogs posted today on the main page!

As always,

Let’s Go Rangers

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on the twitter

Comments

  1. I was at this game in section 104. I agree it’s a lot of suits, but also everyone in Toronto knows the leafs will suck for a bit longer so nobody seems all too interested in watching them play…I had 2 ladies behind me literally talking about their life the ENTIRE game. I’m sure when the leaf prospects are up and playing they’ll be more of a buzz again

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