The smile came across Tyler Bozak’s face when he began to describe the video he watched on Sunday morning. It wasn’t game film — although that probably would have had him smiling. It was footage of Maple Leaf Square from Saturday night and the celebration that followed Phil Kessel’s first playoff goal as a Leaf. Independent of Bozak, Joffrey Lupul was telling a similar story. He, too, saw the scene outside the Air Canada Centre and spoke of the anticipation of Monday night. “They had the video up on the computer today. With all the fans celebrating and all the cheering. That’s pretty exciting for us players.” It is all so very new. This connection between this Maple Leaf playoff team and their ever-growing fan base, a closeness real or imagined through Twitter and social media, like nothing we’ve seen around here in a very long time. The Saturday night celebration at Maple Leaf Square, with the outdoor screen attracting those to a gathering place, that’s new. The last time the Maple Leafs played a playoff home game there was no such thing as Maple Leaf Square. But all this is so today. Leafs in the playoffs. Leafs providing a reason to believe. Leafs, living up to the old slogan that for so long was just words, uniting the passion. For one game and one night and one piece of hope there was all of that on a Saturday night. Tonight is a new game, a new opportunity, and the day will begin with anticipation and nervousness and excitement, all the things that make sports special and have been too long missing around here. The day and night will begin that way. The hope is the players feed off all that energy and turn it into something more than performance. It needs to be another moment in time.
Excitement in the air for Maple Leafs playoff game
Toronto Sun | May 6