German couple weds in Toronto for the Maple Leafs
I’ve met hardcore Toronto Maple Leafs fans before: the yellers, screamers, ranters, complainers; the optimists, loyalists, and potentialists (yes, I made up that word to describe the throngs of fans who see potential in anyone donning a Leaf); the would-be coaches, trainers and general managers, and so on, and so forth.
But stories like these, of dedicated fans in it simply for the love of the game and the atmosphere of Toronto’s team, make you realize the aura of the Maple Leafs; of Toronto, of hockey, Canada’s game.
Florian and Vanessa Licht, two big time Leafs fans, recently married in Toronto.
Big deal, right?
Well, outside their home in Germany, they have a “Reserved Parking for Leafs fans Only” sign.” That’s right. In Germany.
These aren’t your average Leafs fans, born and raised in Toronto, or Canada, and brought up on hockey.
I suppose you could argue this happy Leafs couple has been brainwashed by the ultra powerful Leafs brand, but speaking with Florian, I got the sense he just loves the aura of hockey season in Toronto.
Florian, 32, found the Leafs about 15 years ago because of Mats Sundin. Back then, there was no way for him to watch the games, or even see videos or pictures of them.
“The internet wasn’t where it is now,” he says, laughing over the phone from Germany.
Rather, Florian read briefs of the games, and reveled in winning Stanley Cups as the Leafs on his computer game.
In 1994, he made his first trip to Toronto. “You get the atmosphere and you start loving the Leafs,” he says, remember walking around the Maple Leaf Gardens.
“You could feel the building and know what’s going on in there,” he says.
About 11 years ago, he met Vanessa, 32, who shared his love of the Leafs. A perfect match.
The two made their first trip to Toronto in 2010, and squeezed seven Leafs games into a three-week vacation.
“We have been to many arenas in North America,” says Florian. “But the atmosphere of the Leafs and Toronto is the best. We love it.”
Florian says the difference is the people, other Leafs fans, who warmly welcome him and his wife anytime they travel to Toronto for a game.
“We like the way people treat us in Canada, especially Toronto,” he says. “They’re very open-hearted and interested about where were from."
Prime example: when they came here for their wedding March 12, 2013, a friend of theirs here notified Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment of their dedication.
That friend wrote to MLSE, telling the corporation that this couple from Germany came to Toronto to get married because they love the Leafs and thought it’d be the prefect, different wedding.
The response? MLSE set them up in a private room after the wedding at Real Sports Bar and Grill to take in the Leafs game happening in Winnipeg. To top it off, MLSE presented them with Leafs jerseys, both with their names on them, and one with the number three and the other number 12 (their wedding day).
The couple managed to squeeze in two Leafs home gaems while here to get married as well, the second thanks to MLSE – it was the sold out Pens game.
“We chose Toronto because we love the city, we love Canada, and of course we both love the Leafs,” says Florian, who stays up past 3 a.m. to catch the Leafs on Saturdays.