Maple Leaf fans are as superstitious as the players

There are a couple of unwritten rules that every spectator follows to the letter when watching their favourite hockey team. If you leave to refresh your beverage, your team is bound to score. If you yell at the refs, they won't listen.
And never even whisper the words 'shutout' or 'hat-trick.'
However, aside from these obvious mores, many die-hard fans - like the players themselves - participate in ceremonies before the action starts. These superstitions were the inspiration for Toronto-based Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment's latest promotion, 'How Blue and White Are You?'

There are a couple of unwritten rules that every spectator follows to the letter when watching their favourite hockey team. If you leave to refresh your beverage, your team is bound to score. If you yell at the refs, they won’t listen.

And never even whisper the words ‘shutout’ or ‘hat-trick.’

However, aside from these obvious mores, many die-hard fans – like the players themselves – participate in ceremonies before the action starts. These superstitions were the inspiration for Toronto-based Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment’s latest promotion, ‘How Blue and White Are You?’

‘It spawned from talking to some alumni like Darryl Sittler and Johnny Bower, along with a few active roster players like Darcy Tucker,’ explains Tom Anselmi, EVP at MLSE. ‘The theme of game-day rituals really came to light from what they told us – players have their rituals, but so do the spectators.’

In late April, MLSE launched the promotion, which asked fans to send in their rituals. The best ones would be printed in the Toronto Sun (the team’s media partner) each day and each published winner would receive two tickets to a playoff match.

The response was almost too much to handle. The Sun was flooded with approximately 2,500 mail responses. Mapleleafs.com received over 5,000 stories in the first week alone. At press time, 80 tickets had been handed out to 40 superstitious Maple Leafs faithful.

Anselmi says that it seemed like the whole city was on the wave and the response was overwhelming. He noted all the flags on cars and said more people were wearing blue and white than he’d ever seen before.

The target demographic was rather wide. Kevin Shea, an 18-year Leaf season ticket holder and author of two books on the Leafs, was very careful to repeat his ritual for each game he attended. Parking in the same spot, Shea entered the Air Canada Centre through the same gate. He wouldn’t sit down without first passing and touching a photo of his cousin Jack McLean who was on the Stanley Cup-winning Leafs team of 1945.

Babies got involved as well. Scott Meyers from Kingston dressed his newborn in a Leafs sleeper for every game. On game days, lifetime fan Steve Horrocks from Mississauga ordered a pizza with exactly 13 toppings on it, in recognition of No. 13, Mats Sundin.

Local celebrities also joined in. Don Ferguson of Royal Canadian Air Farce fame, Michael Landsberg of TSN’s Off The Record and perennial Argo, Mike ‘Pinball’ Clemons among 13 others all shared their good-luck routines in advertisements printed in The Sun.