The Toronto Maple Leafs attended a Big Ten football game on Saturday and frankly, they looked a little flat.
Cardboard cutouts of the team made it into the stands for the Indiana Hoosiers conference game against Penn State at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington.
You might be asking yourself why, exactly.
Look no further than the Indiana’s volleyball coach, Steve Aird, who was born in Toronto and is a longtime Maple Leafs fan.
“When the department said they were having cutouts for the game, I thought this was a layup,” Aird told NHL.com.
Aird made a special video for the occasion that was shared by the Maple Leafs on social media.
“The people we have at the Mark Cuban Center (for Sports Media and Technology at Indiana University) are the best. It was an easy conversation. I just mentioned it and they were fired up to do it. And I think we have the best social media in the country,” Aird said.
The Maple Leafs and Hoosiers shared a nice exchange on Twitter.
As for Aird’s motivation for getting the cutouts in the building, he cited a quote from rapper and fellow Toronto superfan Drake.
Cutouts in the stands have become a trend with no fans to fill the seats at sporting events due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. A couple of Tampa Bay Lightning ones showed up as the Tampa Bay Rays played in the American League Championship Series.
But while that connection is obvious with the team’s sharing a city, the Maple Leafs and Hoosiers football team relation is a little more under the surface.
“1967, last time the Indiana Hoosiers won the Big Ten. 1967 the last time the Maple Leafs won the Cup,” Aird said in his video. “Figure we can cross both of those off in the next calendar year.”
Aird shouted out recent Leafs signings, veteran forwards Wayne Simmonds and Joe Thornton and GM Kyle Dubas before using the team’s “Leafs Forever” slogan to end the clip.
“I came to the States in 1997, I’ve been coaching the majority of the time here. I’ve been to six Final Fours and won two National Championships,” Aird said. “And the only time I get nervous is during Leafs games.”