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Bar owners in Toronto say they're anticipating jubilant crowds as the Toronto Maple Leafs begin their second-round NHL playoff series against Florida on Tuesday.
Christopher Murie, the owner of The Dizzy Pub, says business has been booming since the playoffs began.
"We had record-breaking and the best sales for two weeks in a row since we shut down in the beginning of COVID" said Murie, who added he also "bleeds blue."
Murie says there was an explosion of excitement when the Leafs clinched their first playoff-series victory in 19 years on Saturday, and he expects fans to be buzzing as the second round begins on home ice against the Florida Panthers.
"Something has changed this year. There's something in the air. Saturday was so crazy that I thought the roof was gonna blow off of this place," he said.
He said the last time he saw such large crowds in the city was in 2019, when the Toronto Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors and won their first NBA Championship.
In preparation for tomorrow, he said he has ordered more food and beer for hockey fans.
Along with Murie, Igor Medvetsky, the owner of The Right Wing Sports Pub, says he has been turning away dozens of customers on game nights because of how busy his bar has been.
"The first few weeks, we were full but by Game 3 and Game 4, we probably turned down at least like 200 people a night, which we never ever had to do," he said.
He said for Tuesday's game, he has doubled his staff, added 15 more TVs in the bar, and ordered plenty of food and drinks.
People who cannot find a seat at his bar can flow into one of the other five or six bars on the same street to watch the game, even though not all of them are sports bars, he said.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment said in a statement said it is expanding its tailgate parties "to include an additional viewing zone, allowing more Maple Leafs fans to catch the excitement of both home and away games in Maple Leafs Square," a viewing area in downtown Toronto.
"Fans will enjoy two additional big screens to witness the on-stage programming as well as all the game action," the statement added.
Toronto police say there will be more officers patrolling the streets because of large crowds on game days.
"There will be road restrictions in effect so people should make plans to travel safely to and from the games, and also when moving around the area," said police spokesperson Victor Kwong.
"Have fun and stay safe. Go Leafs!"
The Leafs will host Game 1 and Thursday's Game 2 at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto before the series shifts to Florida.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 1, 2023.