Toronto man who was a fixture at Maple Leafs games for 29 years has died
If you've gone to see a Toronto Maple Leafs game at Scotiabank Arena sometime over the past three decades, then chances are you remember the warm and welcoming presence of long-time usher Vic Braknis.
Braknis has been a fixture at Maple Leaf games in Toronto for many years, and the city's hockey community is in mourning after the sad news of his passing at age 81 this week.
"We are saddened to learn of the passing of Vic Braknis, who ushered the Leafs onto the ice before every period," wrote the Toronto Maple Leafs on Twitter Thursday.
"An usher at MLSE for 29 years, Vic's smile and positive attitude will be remembered by all the fans and players who had the pleasure to meet him. He will be missed."
When I first auditioned for Hockey Night in Canada in 2006 Vic was one of the people who made me feel welcome at the rink that night. He was a very kind human being. He knew everyone’s name and everyone knew his. All the best to his family. ❤️ https://t.co/NeQSnzvQYS— Cassie Campbell-Pascall (@CassieCampbell) February 5, 2021
In his nearly 30 years as an MLSE usher, Brankis was known for guarding the Maple Leafs' dressing room and their east end rink gate at nearly every game, and he was often there to maintain a sense of calm during stressful situations involving heated players or members of the media.
But beyond his impact on the players themselves, Braknis was also beloved for his willingness to chat with nearly every fan he encountered during games, especially children.
So sad to hear. Had the pleasure meeting him sitting in the best seats in the house. He was so kind to my son. 🙏🙏— stephen ongaro (@stephenongaro) February 4, 2021
Following the news of his death, social media users have been taking the opportunity to recount their many fond memories of the adored usher, including the time Junior Team Canada staff brought him out onto the ice for a photo with the players on Christmas Day.
when I learned of Vic's passing I was heartbroken / I spoke to Vic throughout covid and now he is gone / I reflect to when @TeamCanada (juniors) staff brought Vic and I out on the ice for one of the team photos on Christmas day which was so thoughtful of them RIP my friend..xx pic.twitter.com/Ye25pCBABo— Glenn Stants (@stantsy) February 4, 2021
Others are meanwhile remembering his "kind words and hearty laugh," as well as the fact that he was someone who truly loved what he did.
A real gentleman. He loved what he did, too. Always there with kind words and hearty laugh. Always looked forward to seeing him.— Seamus O'Regan (@SeamusORegan) February 5, 2021
And some hockey fans are simply sharing memories of their short yet sweet encounters with Brankis over the years.
Had a chance to meet Vic a few times when attending games. Was always kind, smiling, always had time to chat with fans, offer a high five or fist bump. He will be forever missed by many. Rest in the sweetest of peace sir. You're a legend.— Brad (@Glimjii) February 4, 2021
"Such sad news. Vic was a constant presence at Leafs games," wrote Sportsnet reporter Christine Simpson of his death on Twitter. "Will miss his smile whenever we're back in the building."
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