The economics of a silent arena and the virtue of staying the course: Leaflets

Photo credit:Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff
Jon Steitzer
8 months ago
The Leafs are exactly one game into the season. It’s a game they won but a game that came with the usual tropes and a win that inspired more questions than confidence. As such it is clear that it will be an 82 game rollercoaster ride and not simply going through the motions of the Leafs reaching the playoffs and everyone feeling good about it the entire way. I don’t know what to tell you if you expected anything different.
As for topics in Leafs land, there are a few that have emerged and I’ll deal with them in the most micro of fashions.

The new goal song

It’s great that the Leafs made the change. Whether you were a fan of Hall and Oates or not it didn’t resonate with the majority of the audience either in the locker room, the arena, or at home and going in a new direction made sense.
As for the Pursuit of Happiness it 100% works even if the overall message of the song adds an amusing context to the Leafs using it. The Leafs going with something over a decade old instead of 40 years old is a step in the right direction and certainly goes a little harder than Make Me Dreams Come True and keeps the energy up after a goal.
I don’t know what else needs to be said other than the energy level is better and there is no way Leafs fans will ever universally agree on a goal song, so that’s that.

The Scotiabank Arena is too quiet debate

I don’t know what to tell you. It’s a quiet arena. It’s always going to be a quiet arena or at least until there is one particularly major change that happens and that is a second team in Toronto.
It’s easy to blame the suits in the lower bowl for the silence in the arena and that plays a part. No one is going out with business clients or coworkers and tossing on full blue and white body paint and banging on the glass as their colleagues look on in horror. Even if you got your tickets through your company no one is going to want the season ticket holder who normally sits next to your boss ratting you out at the next game that you were mainlining beer and shouting at Cole Caufield to go fuck himself. The business crowd isn’t rowdy in Toronto. RIP the 1980s.
The corporate presence isn’t the only influencer, there is also the ticket price in general and the fact that most tickets are only available at inflated costs via the secondary ticket market, which the Leafs have never shown any interest in getting under control. When you are having to shell out several hundred bucks to attend a Tuesday night game against Columbus and that is your in-person Leafs experience for the year, you are probably more invested in watching the game than turning the night out into a party. You aren’t going to be drinking to the point where you spend half the game in the lineup for the washroom, you are going to focus on watching what the Leafs do instead of worrying about when it’s time to stand up because the wave is coming around again.
The cost of the game is prohibitive to the Maple Leafs in arena atmosphere matching “The Passion” that is generally displayed by Leafs fans in all other corners of existence. Leafs fans have proven they can be the most obnoxious and rowdy fans and if that isn’t clear from talking hockey on social media, it’s certainly true if you ever get the attend a Leafs game on the road and as an Edmonton resident there are few things more enjoyable than watching Leafs fans take over the Oilers arena.
In markets like Ottawa and Buffalo it’s still accessible enough and affordable enough for a group of fans to buy out a section and turn the game into a celebration. That is both logistically and financially much more of a challenge at the Scotiabank Arena.
Unfortunately, supply and demand dictates that Toronto is always going to be an expensive place to watch hockey and the price they charge is still resulting in a sold out building so expecting anything to change or trying to blame Leafs fans for the building being silent seems as pointless now as it has been for the past 20 years we’ve been having this conversation.
There is also the fact that some people just want to watch the game and that’s cool too.

Staying the course

The Leafs certainly didn’t look great in their win against Montreal. They did demonstrate that their special teams and skill can make their opponents pay even when they’ve generally been sloppy most of the night. That being said there isn’t a lot of reason for Sheldon Keefe to rock the boat after one game. Fraser Minten deserves his nine game run as the Leafs 3C to see if he can hold that job. Jake McCabe and John Klingberg need some time to see if their partnership can work and time is required especially after Klingberg being injured throughout training camp. And Ilya Samsonov looking shaky after limited usage in the preseason and having a new defensive system in front of him is going to mean that he isn’t going to come flying out of the gates. The planned starts for Samsonov and Woll aren’t in jeopardy because of one bad game.
The fact that the Leafs won makes things a lot easier to take this approach and as much as I love to criticize Sheldon Keefe, he absolutely made the right decision by running back the same lineup card for Saturday night as he had on Wednesday. As much as the Leafs can be assessed on multiple nights of the same lineup against different opponents, the Leafs will come away with a better understanding of what will work best following the 82 game mark.

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