December 22, 2010
On Monday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs' game against the Atlanta Thrashers was delayed when someone threw waffles on the ice during play, continuing the peculiar fan protest in Toronto against the Leafs' utter futility.
The protestor was 31-year-old Joseph Robb of Oakville, wearing a Darcy Tucker(notes) jersey and a Santa hat (as seen in this incredible Toronto Star image). The Globe & Mail reports that he "heaved a box of a dozen Eggos over the glass during play, halting the game during a scoring chance for Toronto."
Robb has been charged by Toronto police with mischief and has been banned from Air Canada Centre, BMO Field and the Ricoh Coliseum, all owned by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.
But while others caught with their hands in the Eggo box might waffle, Robb's actually fighting the charges -- and trying to keep the breakfast-chucking going at Leafs games.
"It's just an inappropriate action that we're trying to ensure that doesn't repeat itself," said Bob Hunter, MLSE executive vice-president for venues and entertainment.
"If the fans want to boo and the fans want to say things then they have every right and opportunity to do that. But to throw things in a crowd of 19,000, we do not consider as being appropriate behaviour."
The man was issued a trespass notice from MLSE that will stand "until such time that we remove that."
Robb, who intends to fight the charges from Monday night, said he was not the original waffle thrower but just a copycat expressing his frustration with the Leafs. He says "real fans" can't even afford game tickets -- his ticket was a gift -- and they are tired of empty promises from management.
"I didn't mean to cause no trouble."
Robb tossed the waffles -- which were thawed and soft -- "just to say ‘wake up' or something. Stop treating your fans like Eggos."
On Puck Daddy Radio Tuesday, Pizzo and I had a healthy (read: "yelling") debate about the waffle-tossing during the course of play. I think it's a cardinal sin and could be dangerous; Pizzo also thinks it's a cardinal sin, but thinks I'm out of my mind for believing waffles could be considered dangerous.
Clearly he's never been in a diner fight ...
The fan protest, absurd as it is, is a healthy one. The Leafs have taken fans for granted for years. The tickets are the most expensive in the league, they've never been anything close to a "fan friendly" organization and they have used their influence in the NHL to ensure they have a monopoly on the territory, so there are no alternatives for the disgruntled despite the city being big enough for two teams (shoot, maybe three).
But there's a right way and a wrong way to protest, and Robb was in the wrong.
The right way? How about after the first opponents' goal is scored? Like a reverse octopus toss?
Of, if the Buds really wanted to nip this thing in the bud, they'd embrace it. Hand out foam waffles at the door. Encourage them to become the new plastic rats in Florida.
Another team might defuse this weird little pop culture moment for the franchise by embracing it; don't you think by now the Atlanta Thrashers would have announced a "waffle toss" in the spirit of a teddy bear toss where it's, like, $1 to charity for every waffle that hits the ice?
But that's the difference between teams desperate to please and teams who feel you should be honored to even have a chance to patronize their games. Which is why the waffles fly.