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 Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, February 20. For the 10th consecutive season, the Maple Leafs will dedicate this game to show their appreciation for the CAF. Over 500 members will be in attendance on Saturday night through ticket donations from MLSE and Toronto Maple Leafs season seat holders. Since 2008, over 3,500 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 MasterCard Centre. Pre-game, Maple Leafs players will don their camo sweaters during the team’s warm up and the Canadian Armed Forces will be honoured with a special puck delivery ceremony. Following the game, all uniformed members of the CAF in attendance will be invited down to centre ice for a photo opportunity with members of the Maple Leafs organization. Fans are encouraged to join the conversation on social media using #TMLForcesNight.
MLSE’s history with the Canadian military can be traced back to as early as 1927 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 Red Kelly, Turk Broda and Syl Apps. Over the years, several MLSE executives have also visited Afghanistan on goodwill missions.
In the last five years, MLSE Foundation and Real Sports Apparel have donated over $180,000 to Soldier On Fund, which provides financial aid to ill or injured members of the Canadian Armed Forces. On February 20, MLSE Foundation will auction player-worn camouflaged sweaters and sell pucks autographed by select Maple Leafs players with proceeds benefiting Soldier On Fund. The sweaters and other camouflaged-inspired apparel including Operation Hat Trick t-shirts and hats are available exclusively at the Toronto Maple Leafs Store Powered by Real Sports Apparel, with 20 per cent of sales year-round also benefiting the fund. To celebrate Canadian Armed Forces Appreciation Night, 40 per cent of camouflage collection sales will be donated.