The Maple Leafs have been bad at home this year — just 1-4-0, with a minus-7 goal differential — and the Air Canada Centre faithful have responded in one of two ways:
Silence, or booing.
Just ask Joffrey Lupul.
“There are some nerves coming into this building,” he said, per the Toronto Star. “It’s quiet, it’s one of the quietest buildings in the league. And it can quickly turn bad.
“I don’t think guys necessarily take offense to getting booed. Guys can handle that. If you play poorly, you expect to get booed. People pay their money. We want to get it to a place eventually where they cheer, too.”
The latest setback at home came on Saturday, where a listless Leafs team dropped a 4-1 decision to the Bruins, who were without the services of captain and minutes leader Zdeno Chara. It marked the second game in a row at the ACC where Toronto failed to score more than a single goal; the Leafs also went 0-3 on the power play, extending their goalless streak to five games (three of which have come at home).
Head coach Randy Carlyle wasn’t pleased.
“Frustration. Anger,” is what Carlyle said he felt after the Boston game, per the Globe. “Those are two things that were probably front and center from the coaching staff’s perspective.”
The ACC’s atmosphere isn’t just about these recent struggles, though. In a season-opening home loss to Montreal, Leafs fans were quiet as well, eloquently described by the Globe’s James Mirtle:
For all the differences, there was a lot of sameness in Toronto. The Air Canada Centre crowd was so quiet Wednesday that a mouse fart would have resonated like the cannon in Columbus, a sure sign the regulars are back in the platinums after a more raucous group had come out for preseason.
Lupul says he hopes the fans turn it around, and start bringing energy to the arena.
“I understand people haven’t necessarily had a lot to cheer about here. Tickets are the most expensive in the league. We get that,” he explained. “Just (a loud building) in sport is important. We got it when we went into the playoffs. It really, really helped us.
“The atmosphere was something I’ll remember forever.”