Nearly 500 members of the CAF will set up camp for the evening at the Air Canada Centre for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ tenth consecutive CAF Appreciation Night tonight. Toronto’s celebrated hockey team has several events planned throughout the day to recognize Canada’s military. Since 2008, the Air Canada Centre has welcomed over 3,500 CAF hockey fans.
The festivities will start with the highly anticipated alumni game between Leafs alumni and CAF members at the MasterCard Centre.
Before the Maple Leafs take on the Philadelphia Flyers, players will sport their camo sweaters and the game will kick off with a ceremonial puck drop.
“The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Canadian Armed Forces have a long-standing relationship that is recognized and honoured not only on this night but during every game through the Leafs Troops program. From the symbolic maple leaf on the Canadian flag and team sweaters to the Leafs players who served with Canada’s military, the Canadian Armed Forces have played a large part in the history and growth of the franchise,” said Shannon Hosford, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.
On Feb. 20, the Maple Leafs Sports Entertainment (MLSE) Foundation will auction off player-worn camouflaged sweaters and sell pucks autographed by various Leafs players. Proceeds will be donated to the non-profit Soldier On. Apparel, including Op Hat Trick T-shirts and hats, are available at the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Store Powered by Real Sports Apparel. Twenty percent of sales year-round are donated to Soldier-On. On CAF Appreciation Night, 40 percent will be donated to Soldier On. Over the last few years, the MLSE Foundation and Real Sports Apparel have teamed up to donate over $180,000 to Solder On.
MLSE has a long-standing history with the Canadian military that can be traced back to 1927 when the Maple Leafs were owned by Conn Smythe. Smythe served as a major in the CAF and fought in the First and Second World War. Several members of the Arenas, St. Pats and Maple Leafs have served in the military including Hall of Famers Red Kelly, Turk Broda and Syl Apps. Over the years, many MLSE executives have visited Afghanistan on goodwill missions.
Tickets for CAF Appreciation Night have been donated by MLSE and Maple Leafs season ticket holders.
Fans have been encouraged to join the conversation on social media using #TMLForcesNight.