Saturday may be a dark day for the Toronto Maple Leafs fans in your life. They may sigh heavily, walk with shoulders slumped, and maybe even cry a little as they walk past the Air Canada Centre, pass Union Station on the subway or turn on their television sets.
The home opener against perennial rivals the Montreal Canadiens was scheduled for Saturday night, until the first two weeks of regular season games were cancelled due to the NHL lockout.
But hockey fans who want to eat their feelings need look no further than Jump Restaurant on Wellington St. W.
For $10.75, half off the regular price, fans looking for 10 ounces worth of comfort can try the Lockout Burger — a short rib and beef patty topped with aged 7-year-old cheddar and homemade dill pickle relish. It comes with a side of fries and truffle mayonnaise to dip them in.
The idea was to let fans know that, although they can’t watch hockey on a Saturday night, they can still go out and have a good time.
“We thought, what better way to give our guests something that when they’re down, they can get perked up with our Lockout Burger,” said Cyrus Cooper, district general manager for Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants. Jump is one of eight restaurants in the Oliver & Bonacini portfolio.
The promotion will be offered every night the Leafs would have suited up for a home game until the lockout is over, even if it lasts all year.
San Yoges, general manager of The Office Pub on John St., says that even though his establishment has events centred on many sports, losing the pre-game and post-game Leafs crowd will hurt business.
Every Saturday night in November, the pub will offer a special that coincides with Leafs home games, consisting of a T-bone steak, a pound of wings and a pint of beer for $19.99.
But what if the dispute isn’t resolved?
“I don’t know. We haven’t set up a name yet, but we could do an NHL lockout deal,” he said.
Over at the Loose Moose Tap & Grill, there will be ticket giveaways and promotions — for the Toronto Raptors.
The sports bar on Front St. W. usually splits its attention between the hockey and basketball teams, but opted to focus its efforts on the latter rather than try to console hockey fans.
“I think people are a bit disgruntled. We’re just focusing on what’s actually out there, trying to remain positive rather than dwelling on what’s not happening,” said Damon Kestle, the general manager.
Pushing the Raptors into the spotlight is also the game plan at all four Hoops Sports Bar & Grill locations.
Under normal circumstances, the chain doesn’t play favourites between the NBA and NHL teams, according to Pragash Sritharan, promotions and marketing manager. As a sports bar, it makes sure all sports get some kind of exposure.
But he says Toronto is, above all, “a hockey city.” When asked if focusing on the Raptors, or possibly even the Toronto Marlies, the Leafs’ American Hockey League affiliate, could compensate for the loss of the Leafs, he didn’t even pause to think before replying: “No. It could never replace (NHL) hockey.”