Toronto Maple Leafs players told reporters Friday that the decision to forgo their traditional salute to fans was deliberate and not intended as a snub.
After Thursday's win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Maple Leafs skipped their usual routine of waving their sticks to the crowd after home game wins. Fans took to social media to voice their disappointment.
Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf insisted that the decision was part of an effort to change their routine after three straight losses.
“That was something that was our decision, and to be perfectly honest, it was something we wanted to do after the way we’ve been playing at home," Phaneuf said. "We wanted to change things up a bit and change up the routine,"
According to Phaneuf, the players met Thursday morning to discuss the changes, and the coaches were unaware of the plan to stop the salute.
Fans have expressed their frustration at the team in recent games by booing and throwing jerseys on the ice. Although some players have called the actions "classless," they said it had nothing to do with their new routine.
Toronto is 10-8-2 and sixth in the Atlantic Division. They play the Detroit Red Wings at home on Saturday.
- Danielle Zhu