The Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans will honour the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) during their home game versus the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, February 2. For the 13th consecutive season, the Maple Leafs will dedicate this game to show their appreciation for the CAF. Over 400 members will be in attendance on Saturday night through ticket donations from MLSE and Toronto Maple Leafs season seat members. Since the ticket program began, over 4,500 tickets have been distributed to members of the CAF.
Throughout the day, members of the Canadian Armed Forces will be honoured and recognized in a variety of ways. Leafs alumni and CAF members will participate in an exhibition hockey game at Scotiabank Arena and Maple Leafs players will also wear their camouflaged sweaters during the team's warm up. There will be a special ceremonial puckdrop will take place in a pregame ceremony recognizing CAF members and their families. Following the game, all CAF members in attendance will be invited to centre ice for a photo opportunity with members of the Maple Leafs organization.
MLSE's history with the Canadian military can be traced back 100 years starting with Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe, who was a Major with the Canadian Armed Forces and represented Canada in World War I and II. To Smythe, the Maple Leaf was a badge of honour, pride and courage worn by Canadian soldiers, so he gave his team that name in hopes of carrying these traits onto the ice. Many members of the Arenas, St. Pats and Maple Leafs served, including Hall of Famers Johnny Bower, Turk Broda and Syl Apps. Over the years, players, alumni and MLSE executives have also visited Afghanistan on goodwill missions.
In the last eight years, MLSE Foundation and Real Sports Apparel have donated over $200,000 to Soldier On Fund, which provides financial aid to ill or injured members of the Canadian Armed Forces. On February 2, MLSE Foundation will auction player-worn camouflaged sweaters with proceeds benefiting Soldier On Fund. The official camo sweater made by adidas will also be available in limited quantities in store and online at shop.realsports.ca, with 20 per cent of gross sales benefiting the fund through to the end of the season.