OTTAWA—They’re going to have to do more than that to keep Leafs Nation away.
The Ottawa Senators issued an email to their season ticket holders earlier this month offering them extra tickets at a discount so long as they agreed not to resell them to fans of their biggest rivals — the Maple Leafs among them — in hopes of filling the stands at Scotiabank Place with a little more red or, at least, a little less blue.
Most of the Toronto fans that Torstar News Service spoke with at the game Saturday night — and there were many to choose from — had heard of the edict but were having none of it.
“It’s rude. It’s all for the love of the game. We’re all Canadian,” said Alexa Falsetti, 20, who travelled from Mississauga with four of her friends to cheer on their favourite team and have a fun weekend out on the town.
The young women did acknowledge some rudeness on the part of visiting Leafs fans.
“Daniel Alfredsson is getting booed on his home ice,” said Kelsey Wolff, 20, referring to a long-held complaint from the Sens Army when it comes to the treatment of their adored captain.
Kevin Sirko, 30, who lives in Ottawa but has been a Leafs fan his whole life, said he thinks the rowdiness is a sign of true commitment from the Toronto fans who make the trip or, like him, don blue jerseys and brave disapproving looks from fellow citizens out of a fierce sense of loyalty.
“If you’re coming to a Leafs-Sens game in Ottawa, you’re likely going to be a true fan, so they may be more obnoxious than they otherwise would have been,” Sirko said.
There were also some friendly rivalries in the crowd, including the one between Guy Barnes, 76, a lifelong Leafs fan from Portland, Ont., who notes he is old enough to remember when Toronto last won the Stanley Cup, and his 14-year-old grandson Emerson Bartel, who lives in nearby Arnprior, Ont.
Barnes said he was amazed when he heard of the email and thought it was ridiculous.
“Some people come and get a little exuberant and they drink a little too much, but it happens at every game, not just Leafs fans,” said Barnes.
Grandson Emerson said that while he sometimes finds it irritating when the crowd boos a Sens goal or cheers a Leafs goal, he thinks having all those competing fans around the rink actually adds to the excitement of the game by bringing the usually sedate Sens fans out of their shells.
“When I come to a normal game, not (against the) Leafs, I don’t think we yell a lot, but when the Leafs come then everyone is yelling,” he said.