Insider Maple leaf Gardens remains special place twenty years after final video game

Building right now home to supermarket, college facility, yet center ice face-off period remains

by Mike Zeisberger

TORONTO -- Wendel Clark pointed at a huge red period painted on the floor that a downtown Toronto supermarket and also became overwhelmed with nostalgia.

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"There the is," the previous Toronto Maple Leafs captain said throughout a current visit come the Loblaws keep in the building formerly known as Maple leaf Gardens. "I knew that was approximately here. Right in between the shelves of Spam and also Cheez Whiz. That"s the specific location they marked where the facility ice period at Maple leaf Gardens provided to be.

"Hard to believe it"s to be this long due to the fact that they to reduce a puck at this spot."

Two decades, to be exact.

Wednesday will note the 20th anniversary of the last video game played in ~ Maple leaf Gardens. ~ above Feb. 13, 1999 the Maple Leafs shed 6-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks, closeup of the door the book on an ext than 67 year of Maple Leafs hockey at the iconic Toronto arena.

Today the building is a multi-purpose facility, with a Loblaws grocery store occupying retail space on the lower floor. The remainder of the structure is well-known as the Mattamy Athletic centre at the Gardens, a venue operated by Ryerson University. It has actually a fitness facility on the second floor and also an arena ~ above the third.

"I think it"s great that they"ve to be able to maintain the framework of the building," Clark said. "There"s a supermarket inside, yet when you journey by the framework is the same."

Part that the structure contains the famous marquee v the words "MAPLE sheet GARDENS" that hangs above the prior doors on Carlton Street.

"They"ve done a great job keeping some the the things," Clark said.

For hall of fame Maple Leafs broadcaster Joe Bowen, the roof continues to be the most impressive part of the building, i beg your pardon was called a National historical Site that Canada in 2007.

"The fact that they moved the rink 3 floors up is impressive enough," that said during a current visit. "But they kept the old cathedral ceiling and also that"s therefore cool. Even though it just holds a pair thousand people (capacity 2,539), you obtain the feel of the old Gardens."

Bowen pointed across the arena to a section of the rafters.

"You deserve to still check out where the transfer booth used to be," the said.

Bowen remained in the that really perch because that the Maple Leafs" last game against the Blackhawks. It to be a night that was remembered much more for the grand ceremonies 보다 the performance of the house team.

The black color Hawks defeated the Maple Leafs 2-1 in the very first game played at the Gardens, top top Nov. 12, 1931. Almost seven decades later, Red Horner the the Maple Leafs and Mush march of the black Hawks, two players indigenous the very first game, reduce the puck in the ceremonial opening face-off because that the critical one.

A goal by former Maple Leafs forward Doug Gilmour at 3:11 the the second period gave the Blackhawks a 3-0 lead and ended up the game-winner. Blackhawks forward Bob Probert scored the final goal in ~ the Gardens in ~ 11:05 the the third.

"There to be a many extra stuff going on," goalie Curtis Joseph said Tuesday. "It was so much more about the background and the previous players comes in and the memorabilia. It to be overwhelming."

Joseph permitted six purposes on 27 shots in the loss.

"The video game itself, together an athlete, was virtually drowned out by every these various other things," Joseph said. "We didn"t play our best, ns didn"t play mine best, and that"s disappointing. But it was exceptional to check out Borje Salming and all the men you"d looked approximately in town for the close up door of the Gardens.

"It was a spectacular sendoff. And also well deserved. Due to the fact that that building was incredible. For this reason intimate. It to be a special ar to pat in."

Video: Memories: Leafs play last game at Maple sheet Gardens

When the final horn sounded about 100 Maple Leafs alumni were paraded ~ above the ice as component of a postgame ceremony. Best-selling Canada-born recording artist anne Murray, put on a Maple Leafs jersey, finished the festivities by singing, "The Maple sheet Forever."

Gilmour watched it all from the tourists bench. Prefer Joseph, this ar was distinct to him.

"It was emotional for me too," Gilmour said Monday. "I had actually some the the best years that my career there v the Leafs (1992-97). In 1992-93 I had actually the finest points season the my career (127 points) and we came within one video game of going to the Stanley Cup Final. Wayne Gretzky and also Los Angeles beat united state in video game 7.

"So many an excellent memories of the place."

Seven days later on a new era started. Top top Feb. 20, 1999 the Maple Leafs play their very first game at Air Canada centre (now recognized as Scotiabank Arena), win 3-2 against the Montreal Canadiens top top a Steve cutting board goal in overtime.

Gilmour was back in the former Gardens in 2017 during a publication signing for his memoir, "Killer: mine Life In Hockey." during a tour of the building, that was displayed the red period where facility ice once was.

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"That was so cool," that said. "Just another reason why the structure was, and is, therefore special.