The Toronto Maple Leafs are turning 100 in 2017, and they want everyone in hockey to join in the celebration.
Actually, “want” isn’t a strong enough word. “Demanding” would be more appropriate.
The team with the longest Stanley Cup drought is looking to host every other major NHL event—the All-Star Game, the NHL Draft and the Winter Classic, not to mention the anticipated 2016 World Cup of Hockey—leading up to or during the club’s 100th anniversary, to be celebrated throughout 2017.
Tim Leiweke, CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, recently told Sportsnet that the organization is in the process of bidding for all four events.
“It’s not a splash. I just think Toronto — it’s our 100th anniversary, and this is the greatest hockey city on Earth. I think we owe it to our fans. And we’re telling the league that they owe it to our fans,” Leiweke said. “They don’t disagree, but we’ve got to go through a process to win it. I think we’ll win it. I think we’ll get there. But we got to go bid on it.”
The next hockey World Cup is scheduled to be held in the summer of 2016 and, while the NHL and its players’ union have yet to make a final announcement, Toronto seems to be the front-runner to host it.
The Maple Leafs played in this year’s Winter Classic against the Red Wings at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich., on New Year’s Day. Toronto probably would not be able to host the event — held annually at an outdoor stadium on New Year’s Day — unless BMO Field, home of MLS team Toronto FC, is expanded. The stadium currently seats around 21,500, and the Toronto city council recently voted in favor of earmarking about $10 million to help expand the stadium by about 10,000 seats so it could accommodate the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts.
Toronto has hosted the NHL draft in 1985 and 2002 and last hosted the all-star game in 2000.
The league’s two outdoor games next season will be played in Washington and in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Denver seems likely to host a game in 2015-16. Next season’s all-star game will be in Columbus, Ohio, and the draft will be in Sunrise, Fla.