Every year in October, the employees at work spend a couple of weeks on a campaign called ECF (I think it stands for Employee Contribution Fund) where we contribute to various charities. The “closing ceremonies” (I think the Canadian GM said a few words, but not to everyone) was a family skate at the Air Canada Centre.

I recall that they had it before, but this was the first time that we actually went. You pay $5 per person and you get to skate for about 45 minutes on the ice. For that price, you also get 2 slices of Pizza Pizza pizza and a drink, so it’s a pretty good deal! You also got entered into a draw for a Lenovo laptop, but I don’t know if that’s a one-time thing.

Skating on the ACC ice surface is pretty exciting, because I see it all the time on the TV. They had all the markings on the ice, including the Ford, RONA, and the centre ice logos. Strangely, they had repeating Metro (the grocery store) logo on the boards. I’ve seen an IBM ad on the boards during the game, so I was surprised that that wasn’t up; but maybe Metro paid to advertise during the open practice the next day (I did see the IBM ad on TV on Saturday night).

What is even more neat is that you can go around the benches and penalty box. I was even able to pretend I’m Glenn Healy and stand between the benches! There’s actually no glass (except behind me) so you can hear both benches (and you have to be paying attention to the game in case the puck, sticks, or players come flying at you.

There was actually a guy (working for ACC I suppose) whose job it was to make sure the penalty box doors were closed. You could go in (and of course lots of people did for fun and to take photos), but you had to make sure to slam it shut, which he made sure you knew or did for you. I guess he had to be hired for liability reasons.

We had exclusive use of the ACC for our corporate event, and there were only so many of us, so they had a very skeleton staff. We were able to walk around a lot of the areas, so after we finished skating we went to explore a bit. We saw where they stored the Zambonis and saw some other NHL-specific rooms (well only their doors since we couldn’t get in).

We were also able to walk around underneath the Platinum seats, and saw all the rooms where all the people sitting in the Platinums go for food and drinks between periods!

The Raptors’ practice court was also open to us and we went in to take a look.

They had the court open the entire night, so I guess you could have just shot some hoops instead of skating. I’m not a big basketball fan so this was not as interesting to me, but they had a gym (you can see the windows of the gym) and also framed versions of all their jerseys. Overall, I would say this was a really good deal to be able to go to these places, skate, and receive food/drink for only $5!