More Toronto Maple Leafs games cancelled but not for the reason you're thinking
It feels like pro sports are struggling to avoid a repeat of early 2020, when play was halted across the big four leagues and the world was plunged into rolling waves of lockdowns.
Rising case counts and the new Omicron variant have already led to several games in multiple leagues being postponed in late 2021, but the latest postponement of upcoming Toronto Maple Leafs games is raising eyebrows and questions about the NHL's motivations.
No, the pair of games planned versus Carolina on Jan. 3 and Montreal on Jan. 6 weren't postponed over concerns of public safety as you'd expect, but instead, it appears that the rescheduling came down to money. Or a lack thereof.
Our games vs. Carolina (Jan 3) & Montreal (Jan 6) have been postponed. https://t.co/bEyfkz1yZe— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) December 28, 2021
"The NHL announced that due to current attendance restrictions in certain Canadian cities, nine additional games will be rescheduled for dates later in the season when such restrictions may be eased or lifted," reads a controversy-stirring statement from the league.
Though Ontario's current restrictions allow 50 per cent capacity for indoor facilities that can hold more than 1,000 people as of Dec. 18, the nearly 10,000 the Scotiabank Arena can host at half capacity is not good enough for the league.
It would be one thing if the NHL was postponing games based on a lack of capacity restrictions and concern for fans' wellbeing, but nope.
They don't want games played in half-empty venues with limits to concession sales, so they're shutting the whole thing down, depriving not just those with tickets, but all Leafs fans.
Of course, this could prove to be a blessing in disguise as case counts soar, the province facing criticism from doctors for allowing sports venues to continue operating at half-capacity and calling for further restrictions on crowd sizes.
Toronto Maple Leafs-related blog EditorInLeaf doesn't beat around the bush, an article on the site saying the move by the NHL is "gross, and like the idea of letting asymptomatic players play, it's negligent and greedy."
And if you thought that last quote was aggressively worded, how about saying that "even though the league is run by billionaires and played by millionaires, they need the money."
It's not just sportswriters calling out the league for perceived greed, with the announcement also drawing some harsh words from the Twitterverse.
This is about revenue only half capacity and no food or drink so the nhl wants these home games pushed down the line— Steve29 (@Stevesleafs29) December 28, 2021
Fans have already been deprived of so much, and to have games called off over revenue isn't sitting well with some.
If we cant milk the general public of their hard earned money, then we're not playing.— Yeti Jesus (@Yeti1181) December 28, 2021
It appears the Leafs even tried to silence one commenter, but no dice.
Nice try Leafs… pic.twitter.com/92mBNLCOvW— Clarence Frazer (@clarencefrazer) December 28, 2021
Others think it's only a matter of time before the league relents and revives the temporary North Division that allowed Canadian NHL teams to face off against each other amid international travel restrictions.
How long until we go back to the garbage fanless North division— Alex 🇨🇦 (@Alex_S____) December 28, 2021
This "north bubble" is a big conversation topic, as fans look for a way to salvage the season while dreading another 2020.
Attendance never seemed to be an issue last year (North Division) and in the bubble.. what changed? 🤔— Meghan McConnell (@meghanmcconnxll) December 28, 2021
While many focused on the elephant in the room, others took the opportunity to get some classic Twitter humour in.
Us: so when are you guys coming back— Connor 🏒🍁 (@ConnorTheLeafs) December 28, 2021
Aside from their brief statement on the games being postponed, the NHL hasn't addressed the outcry.
Of course, NHL commissioner and universally-hated hockey villain Gary Bettman hasn't tweeted since 2015, so we might not get to see him chime in on the Twitter conversation publicly.
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