Inside Maple Leaf Gardens

By HOWARD BERGER

TORONTO (July 31) – Having posted a blog Wednesday with exterior images of old, wonderfully-worn Maple Leaf Gardens, I was asked – quite logically – how it looks from the inside. At BergerBytes.ca, you never have to wait long for an answer.

No, I did not return to the Gardens on Thursday. Instead, I have cobbled together photos taken from prior visits – several featuring legendary Leaf players from the Stanley Cup dynasty of the 1960’s. Here, now, the inside of Maple Leaf Gardens as it appears today, nearly 15½ years after hosting its final National Hockey League game. It is a combination athletic facility for Ryerson University and Loblaws grocery store:

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SOUTHEAST CORNER OF THE GARDENS – LOBLAWS AT BOTTOM-RIGHT.

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MATTAMY ICE (ABOVE AND BELOW) WAS BUILT ON THE FOURTH LEVEL OF MAPLE LEAF GARDENS – AT APPROXIMATELY THE HEIGHT OF WHERE THE GREEN SEATS USED TO BE. IT IS HOME TO THE RYERSON UNIVERSITY RAMS HOCKEY CLUB.

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BOTH RYERSON AND LOBLAWS MADE IT A PRIORITY TO MAINTAIN THE LATTICEWORK AND APPEARANCE OF THE INNER-DOME AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS. HAVING TURNED A DULL YELLOW FROM DECADES OF CIGARETTE SMOKE, THE STEEL GIRDERS WERE SANDBLASTED TO THEIR ORIGINAL GRAYISH TONE. IT WAS A TERRIFIC IDEA.

STANLEY CUP LEAFS

In 2012, a small group of Maple Leaf legends gathered at the Gardens for an auction-sale of contents. Johnny Bower, Eddie Shack, Dick Duff, Red Kelly and Larry Jeffrey were on hand. All but Duff were members of the last Toronto Stanley Cup team in 1967. Duff played an integral role in the 1962 and 1963 championships before Punch Imlach dealt him to the New York Rangers. New York mistakenly traded him to Montreal, where Duff won four more Stanley Cups (1965-66-68-69).

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JOHNNY BOWER – GOD WILLING – WILL BE 90 YEARS OLD ON NOV. 8.

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JOHNNY BOWER AND EDDIE SHACK – ALWAYS GREAT PALS.

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EDDIE THE ENTERTAINER WITH A PENSIVE LOOK.

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RED KELLY – A MEMBER OF ALL FOUR LEAF STANLEY CUP TEAMS IN THE 1960’s AND FIRST COACH (IN 1967-68) OF THE LOS ANGELES KINGS.

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JOHNNY BOWER CHATS WITH 1967 CUP TEAMMATE LARRY JEFFREY.

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BEST FRIENDS FOR MORE THAN 50 YEARS: BOWER AND DICK DUFF.

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AT A REUNION MARKING THE 40th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FABLED CANADA-RUSSIA HOCKEY SERIES IN 1972, TEAM CANADA’S RON ELLIS SPEAKS TO THE GATHERING. ELLIS BECAME A MAPLE LEAF IN TIME TO WIN THE 1967 STANLEY CUP. 

MLG REMNANTS

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UP FOR AUCTION: THE PENALTY BOX AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS.

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THESE WERE INDIVIDUAL TEAM PANELS FOR THE OUT-OF-TOWN SCOREBOARDS THAT WERE ON THE FACING OF THE MEZZANINE BLUES AT EACH END OF THE ARENA FROM 1967 TO 1999. LEFT-TO-RIGHT: LOS ANGELES KINGS, NEW JERSEY DEVILS, PHILADELPHIA FLYERS, BUFFALO SABRES AND CLEVELAND BARONS.

GROCERY SHOPPING AT MLG

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LOBLAWS STREET ENTRANCE (TOP-LEFT) AT THE SOUTHEAST CORNER OF CHURCH AND CARLTON. AN ORANGE CIRCLE HAS BEEN PAINTED (TOP-RIGHT) IN ONE OF THE FOOD AISLES TO DESIGNATE WHERE THE CENTER-ICE FACE-OFF DOT USED TO BE.

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MAIN ENTRANCE ? TO THE GARDENS IS NOW A GROCERY STORE. ?

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CHECK-OUT AISLES WHERE THE SOUTH-END GOAL ONCE STOOD.

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INSCRIPTION ON WALL INSIDE MAIN GARDENS ENTRANCE.

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SUPPORT COLUMNS INSIDE LOBLAWS FEATURE ARTWORK FROM PROMINENT MOMENTS IN MAPLE LEAF GARDENS HISTORY.

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THIS ISN’T A GROCERY STORE FOR DIABETICS.

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WALL MURAL TO THE LEFT OF MAIN ENTRANCE.

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RED AND GOLD SEATS FROM MAPLE LEAF GARDENS.

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CLUSTER OF BLUE GARDENS SEATS ON GROCERY STORE WALL.

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AND A ROW OF FORMER RED SEATS ON STORE LEDGE.

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WINDOWS ON EAST SIDE OF GARDENS OVERLOOKING CHURCH ST.

83-YEAR-OLD BRICKS

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ALONG BACK SIDE OF THE GARDENS ON WOOD ST.

AND OVERHEAD TODAY…

My sky/weather photos: July 31, 2014.

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