TORONTO -- The more I walk around this city, the more I fall in love with it.
Thanks to the World Cup of Hockey 2016 and the approaching NHL season, there's a constant hockey vibe in this town. The weather is great, and aside from a nasty look or two from a cyclist I almost cut in front of, the people are really nice.
Perfect example: Saturday night I was sitting in Air Canada Centre for the final minutes of Team Canada's win against Team Czech Republic when a guy next to me spotted a picture of my dog on my iPhone screen and asked me about her. While we kept our eyes on the game, we had a pleasant conversation about my dog, his dog, dogs in general, and then started discussing Team Canada, Toronto and all the great things to do here.
On his way out, he told me to enjoy the city. Just a nice conversation in an unexpected place.
Hockey is everywhere in this city. People watch it, they talk it, they breathe it, they love it.
On Monday, I went to Maple Leaf Square, a public space outside Air Canada Centre. The highlight was Legends Row, where statues of seven Toronto Maple Leafs legends are on display with three more coming next month. I ran into four fans from Sweden who immediately started asking me questions about the 1972 Summit Series. Luckily I had NHL.com columnist /in-house historian Dave Stubbs on speed dial to give me all the answers I needed.
I talked with the Swedes about Henrik Lundqvist, Team North America and just how great the week has been. Then I snapped a photo of them next to the statue of Mats Sundin. Made their day.
Since I'm having most of my meals in the arena, and because of the poutine ban imposed by Montreal-based co-workers Stubbs and Arpon Basu, finding authentic Canadian food has become a challenge.
But in the hotel lobby Sunday I had something called a Croque Madame, which is sort of like a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with a fried egg on top of the bread. Colleague Shawn Roarke said, "It's like having breakfast and lunch at the same time." It sounds simple, but it was excellent.
I did see something in Toronto I haven't seen in forever: A phone booth. I don't think I've seen a pay phone in decades, let alone a booth. But there it was on the street around the corner from my hotel. Talk about old school. Just another little thing that adds to the charm of this city.
Team North America, which is quickly becoming the talk of this town, is back on the ice Monday. How excited are fans for Team North America? I overheard someone talking about a Team Canada-Team North America final.
I can only imagine the buzz in this city if that were to happen.
Until next time.