Disappointed area Maple Leaf and Red Wings fans may yet have a means of renewing their historic rivalry - even in the face of a NHL lockout and the cancelled Winter Classic - all thanks to Investors Group and plans for a Blue-versus-Red road hockey tournament along Riverside Drive.
“I remember getting into quite a few arguments growing up why the Leafs were better than the Wings,“ explained Trevor Whaling, division director for Investors Group Windsor Tri-County and lifelong Toronto fan. “I also married into a Red Wings family, so I get it from my in-laws all the time. This way, we get to take it to the streets.
“Trust me. When the Winter Classic was announced, I had to have tickets and no one wanted to go more than me. I’m missing hockey quite a bit.
“(But) hockey is about community and fun and this will bring that back into perspective.”
The two-day tournament (dubbed the “Windsor Classic“) would take place on the weekend between Christmas and New Years, specifically, on the 28th and 29th of December. Games would run along the stretch of the Drive between Ferry Street and Ouellette Avenue.
The contests themselves would pit teams of Toronto fans against squads of Detroit fans - with a cumulative score kept over the duration of the tournament, regardless of how many games are played. Three simultaneous games would take place with a duration of 45-minutes each. Games would be organized by age group.
Whaling said the idea actually occurred to him well-before the NHL lockout, citing the local origins of what has become the annual CBC Play On! Tournament.
“That was founded in Kingsville by Scott Hill,” he said. “He’s been a tremendous resource for myself in trying to get the Windsor Classic off the ground. We’ve been talking about this since the summer.”
Other events that would run in conjunction with the Windsor would include family-oriented games; displays; performances and appearances by notable hockey figures (to be announced at a later date).
In addition, a can drive and any money raised would be donated to the Downtown Mission. A bottle drive and used hockey equipment drive are similarly planned.
A presentation will be made before City Council tonight in the hopes of having the tournament get the official go-ahead (specifically, the street closure). Whaling said he has people chomping at the bit to get started - including marketing initiatives and people ready to suit up.
“This event could bring a lot of positive attention to the city and give the downtown merchants a boost.
“We already have quite a few people interested in taking place and the support is there from different groups looking to support it. We’re ready to go.”