Leafs playoff season: best spots to celebrate and watch the game

By YP Contributor

The Toronto Maple Leafs have made it to the NHL playoffs for the first time since 2013, and suffice to say, the city is stoked. If you’re a sports fan trying to figure out how to beat the lines and still get in on the celebrations, here are the spots to check out. [Photo credit: iStock]

Leafs playoff season: best spots to celebrate and watch the game

Where to watch

There’s a host of stellar sports bars across Toronto, in and out of the stadium district. Around the ACC, the hot-ticket spots to catch the game on screen include The Loose Moose, a hip wood-clad sports bar on Front Street, Real Sports Bar, a sprawling two-storey affair (complete with huge, projector-like televisions) and Wayne Gretzky’s, a main-stay on Blue Jays Way that caters to sports fans of all ages. These, plus a host of other well-known spots are great for both game-watching in the heart of all the excitement, and, if you’ve managed to score tickets to the live action – they’re just as good to hit afterward to celebrate.

Looking for something with cool vibes and craft beer, where the game action will definitely be live? Try Amsterdam Brewhouse on the Harbourfront, BarHop BrewCo.’s newer sprawling location on King Street or Duke’s Refresher at Yonge and Gerrard. Just know: wherever you’re going in and around the stadium district, you’re going to want to arrive early because these will be some of the hottest seats in town.

If the huge crowds of the downtown core on a game night is not really your thing, we can sympathize. There’s tons of other bars around town filled with good vibes and on-the-edge-of-their-seats sports fans. Roncesvalles’ quaint sports bar Round the Horn, for instance, draws locals with their craft beer selections and cozy vibes – complete with plenty of big screens for game hour. The Dock Ellis, The Derby and The Contender on Dundas Street West are neighbouring watering holes that toe the line between hipster hangout and die-hard sports spot. You can count on Bloorcourt’s beloved dive bar Hurricanes to be showing the game; there’s nothing too shiny about this locals spot, but it is most definitely worth the nachos sampler. The Monarch Tavern is a similarly chill-meets-#GOLEAFSGO destination on game night. The Duke, Queen’s Head Pub and Brass Taps are among the east end’s go-to spots for game time, but AAA Bar on Queen East is a supreme spot to get your BBQ fix and catch the game at the same time.

Get decked out

Time to upgrade that Toronto Leafs jersey? Apart from hitting up Real Sports Apparel in the ACC proper, you can cop a jersey from Hudson’s Bay, Sport Chek and the Hockey Hall of Fame’s online store. But if you’re looking to show your Toronto pride in a more subtle way, there’s a slew of local shops specializing in just that. Peace Collective’s now-famed “Home is Toronto” shirts (and much more), will be making the rounds throughout the playoffs. Toronto-based 6ixside is making a splash too, with its minimalist graphic tees that give a nod to the 416. Toronto Supply Co. (formerly The Neighbourhood Project) totes equally sweet threads (the “Toronto vs. The Zombies” tee is our personal favourite) plus baseball caps, canvas bags and prints emblazoned with Toronto-loving designs. There’s also Thank You Toronto, which not only totes cool Toronto-centric threads, but its also a social justice enterprise that provides one meal to someone in need with every item sold.

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Celebration sites

When the goals are good and the victories strong, make sure you’ve sorted out where the night’s celebrations will take you. Any of the above-mentioned spots to watch the game will be just as fun to celebrate at after – but careful, because some of the mainstays will fill up fast.

Party-centric spots like Belfast Love on King West and Dog and Bear on Queen West will be noteworthy after-the-game sites, but the biggest and free-est celebrations in town will be the ones going down at Maple Leaf Square following a victory. You can also hang out there during the game; it hosts an enormous big screen for game-watching in outdoor air.

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