Sunday, April 14, 2024

Hockey catch-up

This year a brand new professional women's ice hockey league debuted and Toronto is one of the 6 cities with teams cobbled together from the previous women's leagues.  In the prior leagues there had been disputes primarily about salaries but also about sponsorship, exposure, etc.  The PWHL got past all that and has done it mostly right, starting with 6 teams (Toronto, Montreal, Boston, New York, Minnesota, Ottawa) and opened with sold out season tickets.  We didn't even have the opportunity to buy tickets since the Mattamy Athletic Center (former Maple Leaf Gardens) only seats 3,850.

It didn't matter though.  The PWHL is working all the angles.  We saw Toronto play Montreal at a sold out Scotiabank (seats nearly 20,000), and the teams are taking their games to other cities like Philadelphia for even more exposure.  Don't be shocked if the league grows by a team or two each year.  In ten years, the league and the women's game itself will look totally different.  I just learned that the rink and goals are the same as the men's, but on the Toronto roster there are players as small as 5'2".  I told Ian all the taller players are busy with basketball and volleyball.  They'll come over to hockey, but give it a decade.

I should mention that the weekend we saw the PWHL Toronto game (you know, I can't wait until they actually pick team names... hopefully by next year?), we also watched a Maple Leafs/Flyers game at Scotiabank.  The Ambassador to our Mission is from Philadelphia and bought three sky boxes for Consulate Toronto to watch the Flyers get crushed by the Leafs.  The boxes are an interesting experience with the loftiness and food, but it's definitely for people with a) money who b) don't really want to watch the game.

The day after the PWHL game, we walked over to the Coca-Cola Coliseum to see the Hershey Bears squash the Toronto Marlies.  Truly, it was a great hockey weekend with wins across the board.  The Bears have traveling fans and we happened to sit near them.  A nice taste of "home."

Then in March Ian had a work trip and I tagged along.  True to form, he scheduled the trip over a Capitals western tour.  Unfortunately we couldn't squeeze in the entire schedule and had to miss Winnipeg and Edmonton this time around, but we did watch them play in Seattle, Vancouver, and Calgary.  All wins!  Wait... the PWHL, the Bears, the Leafs, the three Caps games... I think it's us.  I think we're the lucky charm.  Right??

Over the past couple years we've followed the Caps to a number of away games and really love checking out the arenas, particularly for the food options.  So far our absolute favorite is Seattle's Climate Pledge arena.  Thoughtful design, great food including plenty of vegetarian options that aren't popcorn and candy, we never felt crowded!  Vancouver's Rogers Center was fine.  Calgary's Saddle Dome is a relic of days gone past but with that comes a certain charm.  It was the warmest arena we've ever been in.  Though we sat about 10 rows off the glass both of us over-heated.  Yeah, Calgary needs a new home for the Flames.  Huh, I wonder if the temperature is part of the experience?

So in addition to collecting pucks, Ian bought a scratch-off arena tracker (with the impending move of the Arizona Coyotes to SLC we may have to get a new one, arg).  So far we've visited 9 arenas, plus two that are 1/2 visits as we've been but didn't see the Capitals play (Madison Square Gardens and Raleigh).  Yes, there are rules, but heck, we have time and it gives us a guide for travel plans.  Much like my parents are visiting national parks, we'll visit cities around the North America.  Oooh ooooooh, what if they jump on the NFL bandwagon of playing in Europe?  That would be fun!

The season is winding down and I don't have high hopes that the Capitals will make the playoffs, and if they do that they'll make it out of the first round, though the Bears have clinched top spot in the AHL league, so we'll definitely be watching post-season there.

For now... this afternoon you can find use watching the IIHF Women's World Championship.  

USA vs. Canada.  

It's going to be awesome.