Slow News Day / The Square


It is the worst day of all days. It’s what you come to dread after the final buzzer of the final game. It’s the opposite of what any fan of the sport could possibly want. It’s that imperfect spot in the sea of news.

Today, it is 4PM and nothing is going on with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

There aren’t any games. That stopped in April. I mean, the Stanley Cup Finals are going on, but the Leafs clearly aren’t one of those teams, and I’m sure nobody wants to hear that Dominic Moore was on the team once, nor do they need to be reminded that Player X and Coach Y are from a random Toronto neighbourhood, so that’s why you should cheer for Finalist Z.

Affiliates? The Marlies are done and the Solar Bears season is long gone. The AHL finals are still going, and we’ll get to see if Texas truly was the team to beat, but I’m not making conclusions after Game 1. Prospects? All the major junior seasons have been over for a few weeks. College Hockey for even longer. Europe is rightfully too focused on the World Cup to remember hockey is supposed to matter at the moment.

Tournaments? The World Championships are done. Nothing important is scheduled to come up any time soon. Draft picks? The combine has passed and we’re still a few weeks from the actual draft, with no speculation on what Toronto’s plan is.

Speaking of speculation, how about trade rumours? None of that today. Joe Thornton was yesterday, but that’s old and addressed news. How about bad articles written by mainstream writers, aka the absolute last gasp? Thankfully, we’ve avoided that today.

Legitimately, the biggest Leafs news of the day is that Tyler Bozak loses a faceoff in the NHL 15 trailer. That’s it. What an awful time to be alive. least for a few hours, until the hype train starts again.

The Square

Tonight, a bunch of us from The Leafs Nation are going to be heading to Real Sports Bar & Grill to watch some hockey and probably tell me to shut up repeatedly. It’s going to be a fun time, but it made me think about Maple Leaf Square from a business standpoint.

Just to review, MLSE managed to do the following with that land:

  • Convince people that a couple of 50+ storey skyscrapers, with some retail but mostly loaded with condos were more beneficial to their hockey experience than having plentiful parking to get to the games in question.
  • Create a Sports Bar out of thin air, with obnoxiously high margins on everything, centred around “it’s close to the arena” and “our TV is really big”. Years later, it’s still packed to the brim whenever a major event happens.
  • Turn the left over cul-de-sac of car land into gathering grounds for fans whenever the Leafs or Raptors do something remotely relevant by slapping a TV on the side of the arena.
  • Convince everybody that it made more sense to have your main team gear shop in the building next door than in the actual rink, move your shop, build a brand, convince a competitor to buy the property from you, and then go back into the arena with your new brand and a bigger area and compete against the company that bought your property (hi Sportchek)

Basically, they turned this:


Into this:


Monetized it for dear life, and yet kept everybody that they’re monetizing happy. It’s actually amazing and I respect the hell out of MLSE’s business wing for pulling it off. Now, lets see the same success on the playing surfaces.

…we’ll have some real news for you in a little while.

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