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Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto’s Sports Teams Man Up for a Month of Big Games

ALL FIVE OF TORONTO’S MAJOR PROFESSIONAL SPORTS SQUADS ARE LINED UP FOR ACTION IN OCTOBER, AND HOPES ARE HIGH THAT THEY’LL EARN SOME IMPORTANT WINS

Toronto sports teams jose bautista michael bradley demar derozan vidal hazelton dion phaneuf

Jose Bautista, Michael Bradley, DeMar DeRozan, Vidal Hazelton and Dion Phaneuf are ready to defend home turf this fall

Whether or not they’re deserving of the attention, the Toronto Maple Leafs are inevitably the talk of this town as soon as the weather begins to cool. But there’s a decidedly different atmosphere surrounding the Blue and White’s upcoming season. Following years of subpar returns from highly paid players who never quite seemed to coalesce, the Leafs seem to have accepted their fate and entered rebuilding mode. Stalwarts like Dion Phaneuf and Joffrey Lupul anchor an otherwise unremarkable lineup; it’ll be reasonably competitive, but few fans are expecting the team to contend this season. Local puckheads instead have their sights set on the future: team president (and hall of fame player) Brendan Shanahan has brought on marquee hockey minds, including GM Lou Lamoriello and head coach Mike Babcock, to mold the squad in their image, a job facilitated by a preponderance of future draft picks, and, ideally, the continued development of young contributors such as Nazem Kadri, Morgan Reilly and James van Riemsdyk.

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7 Toronto Sports Bars Near the Air Canada Centre

BY LINDA LUONG

Toronto Sports Bars

Real Sports Bar and Grill is steps from the Air Canada Centre

Die-hard fans of Canada’s favourite pastime might say there are actually five seasons in our country: spring, summer, fall, winter and hockey. The latter was tragically delayed this year, but on January 12, after 119 nail-biting days, a deal between owners and players was reached to end the NHL’s frustrating lockout. And so our city’s beloved (though sometimes hapless) Maple Leafs have dutifully returned to the ice. If you can’t get tickets to seem them play live, these Toronto sports bars near the Air Canada Centre offer ample screens for catching all the action with fellow fans.

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Hot Date: Cheer Mats Sundin and Other Hockey Heroes

The Leafs’ “Big Swede” gets his due this month (photo: Hockey Hall of Fame)

NOVEMBER 9 TO 12  Three years after ending a career that included more than a decade as captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Mats Sundin returns to become a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame alongside Joe Sakic, Adam Oates and Pavel Bure. Visit the hall to get your jersey signed and view the new 3D film about the road to winning the Stanley Cup, then head to the Air Canada Centre on November 11 for the Legends Classic, a face-off between two all-star teams featuring this year’s inductees. The festivities culminate with the November 12 induction ceremony. 30 Yonge St., HHOF admission $17.50, Legends Classic $37.75 to $71.75; call 416-360-7765 or visit the Hall’s website for more information.  —Eva Voinigescu

Where in Toronto: Ghosts of Seasons Past

Jose Bautista leads the Jays into a hopeful new season (photo courtesy of the Toronto Blue Jays)

Ever since Toronto Blue Jays star Jose Bautista graced the cover of Where Toronto’s April issue, it seems as though I’ve been seeing the team everywhere. No—I wish I’d been running into the likes of Adam Lind and Ricky Romero around town; I mean that I’ve started noticing Jays hats, sweatshirts, merchandise in the windows of every sporting-goods store, and, of course, even an entire section dedicated to the Jays in Sears at the Eaton Centre. It might be that I’m just beginning to take notice of our hometown team, or maybe it’s just Toronto getting into the spring swing of things. (more…)

Where in Toronto: Springin’ Forward

Spend a sunny spring day exploring the Evergreen Brick Works (photo by Craig Moy)

This week, seemingly just as I had become comfortable using it, I left the sheltered PATH system in favour of my original ground-level route between Union Station and Where‘s offices on Queen Street. I traded my Ugg boots for flats, switched my winter coat for a light spring jacket and strutted up Yonge Street. With the sun in my face and the snow gone (or rather, averted), it seemed as though hibernation season had ended. Thermometers have already donned double-digit temperatures, after all—the sort of warmth we don’t typically feel until April; It’s only mid-March, but the timing is perfect to get a head start on spring.

What’s the first thing to do under these conditions?
Get out. Out of the house, the office, wherever. Just
get outside. We don’t get much time to spend outdoors, comfortably at least, so it’s best to take advantage of the few months we do get. And Toronto has a plethora of ways that city dwellers can enjoy
the pleasant weather. (more…)

Where in Toronto: Maple Leaf Gardens as a Grocery Store

photo by Rasheed Clarke

I hate starting off a story with “when I was a kid…”
It makes me feel old. Ah well. When I was a kid, my dad would take me to hockey games at Maple Leaf Gardens so I could cheer on my favourite Leaf, Felix Potvin. We always rode the subway downtown from our home in Etobicoke because my dad hates paying for parking. College station was a lively place on game nights as fans rushed off the trains, up the stairs and down Carlton Street to what used to be
a national hockey hub.

The Buds moved from the Gardens to the Air Canada Centre in 1999, and it’s taken more than a decade for their former home to find another permanent tenant. Or, more accurately, two new tenants.

The first is Loblaws, the grocery store chain that two weeks ago opened its latest Toronto location inside the southwest wing of Maple Leaf Gardens. In the company’s words, this store represents “food’s greatest stage.” A lofty statement, but there are some novelties that set the place apart from other grocers: a sushi bar, omelette bar, a sizable patisserie, and a really tall glass case of cheese.

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Weekend Roundup, September 23 to 25

Friday: See Bryan Baeumler and other design and renovation experts this weekend at the Fall Home Show

Friday, September 23
Pick up tips and tricks for your next home improvement venture at the Fall Home Show. The Better Living Centre at Exhibition Place hosts this year’s weekend-long event where vendors and design experts—including HGTV’s Bryan Baeumler—showcase the latest products in home design.

Let’s go Leafs! Celebrate the return of hockey season with exhibition games at the Air Canada Centre. The Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Buffalo Sabres tonight in exciting pre-season action.

Shop for vintage and independent designs at The Clothing Show held at the Queen Elizabeth Building, Exhibition Place. The three day event features over 300 booths from sample sales to local Canadian designers guaranteed to be a fun shopping experience.

Saturday: Chess the Musical brings '80s music and politics back to the stage

Saturday, September 24
See the critically acclaimed Chess the Musical today at the Princess of Wales Theatre. A world chess competition, a love triangle, and the Cold War are all plot elements in this lively musical, fresh from its sold-out tour of the U.K.

Listen to Emmy-nominated comedian and political commentator Bill Maher at Massey Hall. He is best known for his satirical opinions on current events and his HBO show Real Time.

Enjoy the opening of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra‘s 90th season with special guest Christopher Plummer. The Canadian actor narrates classic Shakespeare accompanied by the TSO at Roy Thompson Hall.

Sunday: Iphigenia in Tauris offers high drama

Sunday, September 25
Broaden your horizons with the Canadian Opera Company‘s rendition of Iphigenia in Tauris. This dramatic opera featuring Susan Graham—the world’s foremost Iphigenia—opens the company’s 61st season.

Laugh at the outrageous Kathy Griffin as she performs a stand-up routine that’s packed with appropriately catty commentary and celebrity gossip. Of course, the self-proclaimed D-List comedienne is an equal opportunity insulter—she readily draws on her own hilarious experiences, too, in her show at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.

What’s the The Word on The Street? It’s a free festival celebrating literacy by featuring authors, editors, publishers and other exhibitors. As one would expect from such a major book and magazine fair, there is also a wide range of Canadian literature and periodicals for purchase.

Weekend Roundup, December 10 to 12

Friday: Help Wintersleep raise money for the Daily Bread Food Bank (photo by Dustin Rabin)

Friday, December 10
Help support the Daily Bread Food Bank by jamming to Jingle Bell Rock. Venerable Canadian indie rockers Wintersleep are one of five bands performing at the Phoenix Concert Theatre for a worthy cause.

The Canadian Children’s Dance Theatre employs eclectic modern dance and ballet to illuminate a tapestry of solstice traditions in its 23rd annual installment of Wintersong— Dances for a Sacred Season. Marvel at the grace of these young performers tonight (and Saturday afternoon) at Harbourfront Centre.

Enjoy the soaring strains of the boys of St.Michael’s Choir School, which presents its 71st annual Christmas Fantasy concert. The holiday harmonies of these talented young singers fill Massey Hall tonight and tomorrow.

Saturday: Cheer on Dion Phaneuf (just back from injury) and the rest of the Maple Leafs

Saturday, December 11
Are you still looking for that special present for someone on your holiday gift list? The 401 Richmond Artisans Marketplace offers truly unique selections from numerous local artists. Browse through the diverse designs to find something that is truly one-of-a-kind.

Let Forte: The Toronto Men’s Chorus serenade you with its performance of Four Strong Winds—Songs for a Canadian Winter at the Metropolitan United Church. In addition to classic seasonal favourites, the group will sing tunes by Stan Rogers, Ian Tyson, Joni Mitchell and Sarah McLachlan.

Our hometown hockey heroes—the Toronto Maple Leafs—renew their age-old rivalry with Montreal Canadians tonight. Find your seat at the Air Canada Centre to see if the buds can get back on a winning track.

Sunday: Take heart in the soaring songs performed by André Rieu

Sunday, December 12
Experience a witty interactive theatre twist on a classic holiday tale as DuffleBag Theatre Company performs its version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The show will have you and your family rolling in the Solar Stage Theatre aisles.

Hurry, hurry! The holidays are coming to an end in the Distillery Historic District—its Toronto Christmas Market concludes today. Don’t miss out on foraging through the fairy tale forest maze that leads to Santa’s house and Rudolph’s reindeer zoo.

Don’t miss a celebration of classical music as entertaining violinist, conductor and composer André Rieu—accompanied by his 55-piece Johann Strauss Orchestra—brings joyous waltzes, polkas and romantic ballads to the Air Canada Centre.

Weekend Roundup, November 12 to 14

There’s a little bit of something for everyone happening this weekend! Enjoy everything from theatre and sports to wildlife and winter fun!

Friday: View Suite Suite Chinatown at the Reel Asian Film Festival

Friday, November 12th
Parents and parents-to-be can check out the Baby Time Show, ongoing all weekend at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Get insider tips on everything baby-related and entertain your kiddos with sing-a-longs and live shows on the main stage. Today there are seminars throughout the day on such topics as breastfeeding and keeping your children safe around dogs.

The University of Toronto’s Hart House Theatre premieres Equus, the second production of its 2010/11 season. Recently re-popularized when Harry Potter‘s Daniel Radcliffe performed its  lead role in London, the Peter Shaffer-penned classic tells of a psychiatrist’s attempt to understand the sexual and religious connotations of a boy who blinds horses.

Celebrate the cinema of the Far East at the Reel Asian Film Festival, which continues this weekend. Along with screenings taking place throughout the day—including Suite Suite Chinatown—there’s also a special Karaoke Party tonight at 9 p.m. at The Abbey Pub.

Saturday: Fall in love with the Toronto Zoo's red pandas (photo by Peter Meenen)

Saturday, November 13th
Like its black and white counterpart the red panda is facing extinction. To raise awareness, the Toronto Zoo celebrates International Red Panda Day. Learn all about this gorgeous animal at the zoo’s dedicated red panda exhibit. All proceeds go to the Red Panda Network which helps conservation efforts to save these furry little creatures.

Let your imagination soar at the National Ballet of Canada’s performance Cinderella tonight. The timeless fairytale is given a slightly modern twist in this production, which focuses on the allegorical elements of the traditional rags-to-riches tale.

Take in some ice carving, live music, and fire performers this Saturday at the Ice, Wine & Dine event, part of the Downtown Yonge BIA’s Winter Magic festival. There will also be food and wine tasting as well as ice martinis and so much more.

Sunday: See Leafs stars like Phil Kessel test their skills

Sunday, November 14th
It’s the final day of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair! See this annual celebration off in good humour by attending its Woof and Hoof event—where canine is pitted against equine in numerous challenges including barrel racing. The Trick Riding Championship also takes place today, plus cattle penning, mini chuckwagon racing and much more.

The Toronto Maple Leafs throw down the gauntlet at 11 a.m. for their Skills Competition. See some of your favourite players go head to head in shootouts, skate offs, and many other mettle-testing events. For tickets, click here.

Experience the glitz and glamour of Indian entertainment in The Merchants of Bollywood, which wraps up its Toronto run this evening. The costumes, music, and beauty of Indian cinema come alive in this fabulous production.

Hot Dining: Catch the Action at Real Sports Bar & Grill

No tickets for the evening’s Leafs or Raptors game? Don’t fret! You can watch Toronto’s pro teams compete in comfort at Real Sports Bar & Grill. Directly adjacent to the Air Canada Centre, this massive meeting place boasts 199 televisions, including North America’s largest indoor high-definition screen, in addition to a surprisingly swanky atmosphere. Food and drink options also befit the aspirations of what is a decidedly untraditional sports bar—the varied menu features upscale comfort fare cooked from scratch and complemented by 36 domestic and imported beers on tap.

Mid-Season Sports

Have new faces brought a winning attitude back to this city’s professional hockey and basketball teams? Find out for yourself as the Maple Leafs and Raptors seek to maintain their mid-season momentum at the Air Canada Centre.

BLADES OF STEEL
Vesa ToskalaYou could be forgiven for wondering why it’s so difficult to get tickets to a Toronto Maple Leafs home game. After all, the National Hockey League team—and Canada’s most valuable sports franchise—hasn’t exactly been burning up the ice in recent years. It’s no secret they haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967, and despite attracting some laudable talent, the squad has been shut out of the playoffs in each of the previous four seasons. Such inferiority prompted a high-profile executive change last year, with team owners installing prized hockey mind Brian Burke as general manager. An architect of recent Cup contenders the Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks, Burke is noted for preferring big, tough players, and this past summer made good on his reputation by signing workhorses like Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin. You won’t be seeing these defensemen at the all-star game; they earn their pay not with fancy stickhandling, but with body checks and blocked shots. Phil Kessel, acquired from the Boston Bruins, has added some scoring, but halfway through the season it’s clear the team is still a star or two away from contending. From this vantage point, the 2009–10 Maple Leafs will not likely be remembered among the storied lineups of yesteryear, but Toronto’s rink rats and ice queens nevertheless continue to live and die by the fortunes of their blue-collar hockey heroes.

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Weekend Roundup, October 16th to 18th

Craft, cringe, carve and cheer with our lineup of autumn events taking place this weekend.

Friday: Get acquainted with The Boys in the Photograph.

Friday: Get acquainted with The Boys in the Photograph.

Friday, October 16th
Get crafty at the Creativ Festival, a three-day show dedicated to do-it-yourself creations. Whether you’re a novice knitter or a seasoned scrapbooker you’ll find plenty of crafting supplies and workshops to help you with your next creative project.

Scare yourself silly and fight off ghoulish creatures at Screamers, the annual Halloween-themed park at Exhibition Place.

Applaud a performance of The Boys in the Photograph, a coming-of-age story of love and conflict in Northern Ireland during the civil war, written by Ben Elton and brought to musical life by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s powerful score.

Saturday: Cheer on the Leafs during Hockey Night in Canada.

Saturday: Cheer on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Saturday, October 17th
Support our beloved hometown hockey team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, as they take to the Air Canada Centre ice in a battle against the New York Rangers.

Join Drake Hotel art concierge Betty Ann Jordan on an exploration of galleries and project spaces along the Queen West strip. After the tour, art aficionados congregate at the Drake’s Corner Cafe for coffee, treats and conversation.

Celebrate the evolution of Indigenous cinema at the 10th annual imagineNATIVE film festival, showcasing more than 125 works by Native filmmakers and media artists.

Sunday: Nosh on brunch at the Boiler House.

Sunday: Brunch at the Boiler House.

Sunday, October 18th
Get into the Halloween spirit early and enjoy a devilish day of family fun at Black Creek Pioneer Village. This year’s Howling Hootenanny features a haunted maze, creepy creatures, pumpkin carving and much more.

Don’t be shy to dig in at the Boiler House’s  lavish brunch buffet—savour award-winning eggs Benedict to the tune of live jazz at this chic, refurbished industrial building in the heart of the Distillery Historic District.

Suit up at Theory’s Get Suited event happening at Holt Renfrew. With in-store sartorial specialists and designer discounts aplenty, you’ll have no problem revamping your work wardrobe this season.