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by Dave Bidini, The Toronto Star
Feb. 20, 2005
1 p.m., City Hall: I enjoy skirting the eyeless, puckless, mirthless Air Canada Centre for Bay St., where I head straight for the clock tower. When I arrive at Toronto's most telegenic rink, Hot Chocolate is playing over the P.A., which is always a good sign. I talk to a Colombian girl on the bench who is skating for the first time. She is so new to Canada that she struggles to find the word for "cold" ("It is not too ... cold?").
Behind us, a dozen Punjabi kids are filming a music video with the rink as the backdrop. Taking to the ice, there are as many people skate-stepping as skating. The Leafs are represented by a single sweater, with the number 9 and the name Kennedy written across the back.
I ask the girl, who is 15, maybe 16, if it's supposed to be Teeder Kennedy, and she tells me that it is. Her dad adds, "With all the bad stuff that's going on in NHL, the older players seem kind of special." A lot of people are here on first dates. It's a Babel of languages and everyone is smiling and goofing on their rented skates. An old woman steps onto the ice as if toeing a bubbling cauldron. Her daughters appear beside her, one on each arm: "If you can't go very far, Mom, don't worry." Hot Chocolate gives way to Billy Idol, but nonetheless. This is a pretty great place to be.