Friday, October 12, 2007

Speaking of hockey....on the road again

Toronto road trip...

Home of the;

"Hockey Hall of Fame"

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, all the hockey styles and assorted hockey experiences accumulated together as a family, another seems to roll around and take us by surprise.

Old news is still good news, therefore I want to share with you a road trip we took several weeks ago, together as a family for the sole purpose of checking out the metropolitan city of Toronto, Canada, with our children. Indeed there was much to see there, though the dangling carrot exciting the gang the most was getting into the “Hockey Hall of Fame”.

Historical timelines of hockey to follow,
with corresponding hockey jerseys displayed above.

Last May we were able to experience the “Baseball Hall of Fame” in Cooperstown, New York, so it was with huge anticipation one son (and a husband!) in particular was thrilled knowing hockey would be the center of this sporting facility's archiving displays.

We traveled with schoolbooks in tow, actually accomplishing much along the way to complete daily studies, sticking to the curriculum syllabus agenda. As the landscape rapidly began to change with waterways came into full view, sure as can be, there before us was “Lake Ontario”, (one of Canada's five Great Lakes) in all its glory, the “Welland Canal” behind us and “Niagara Falls” to the south (we’ve been there before so no stop was necessary this time).

The Welland Canal

The Welland Canal is a quite a marvel, especially to us now, after we found out the “Panama Canal” was actually mimicked and built from viewing this Canadian system. How wonderful to note the Canadian waterway systems were being copied elsewhere in the world to make travel that much more interesting, providing short cuts to explorers, ocean freighters, cruise ships and other assorted boating vessels.

As we negotiated our tourist driving motions in downtown Toronto, we remembered being there just weeks before at Karyn & John’s wedding , so at least we have some semblance of where to go, what was where and basic directions, though some were still sketchy in our minds, like where oh where was that Hockey Hall of Fame exactly! I'm happy to admit we had no troubles arriving at our destination with great signage along the way to follow.

Almost there...

The fabulous building front of the original
Bank of Montreal from the 1800s.

First stop, as you can imagine of course, the “Hockey Hall of Fame” ! Not sure what to expect, the building looked grand and of historical significance before we were able to park the vehicle. Not too far west of the building we located the nearest public parkade and cranked the vehicle into a park position, all fleeing to the building a mere short distance away. You’d think they were excited or something…..hmmm…… Frankly, I saw a lovely Starbucks location that caught my eye first…laugh.

Enter in here if you dare...

Imagine arriving at this famous touristy hockey splendor and great sporting wonder, visualizing all the player's historical moments we would encounter within all the displays and theatre productions.

Imagine arriving there and not having the BIGGEST fan in tow with us, an older son who was a walking hockey statistic brain! (Sorry Aaron, we went without you son.)

For Aaron - Wayne Gretsky's Number one fan!

(Snapped this one for my dad!)

The birth of the Hockey Hall of Fame was largely due to the father of hockey, James Sutherland, who wished to have ice hockey represented similarly to New York’s Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame and all its glory. The exact date papers were signed for the sole intention of assembling and beginning a famed International Hall of Fame for the sport of ice hockey, was September 10th, 1943 in Kingston, Ontario. Construction was delayed by exorbitant building costs, but the Hockey Hall of Fame continued to induct Honoured Members, although not annually. Finally in 1958, NHL President Clarence Campbell grew impatient with the delays and withdrew the NHL's support of Kingston as home for the Hall of Fame. Instead, a decision was made to locate the permanent home of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Authentic and personal goalie masks of famous goalies

The Hockey Hall of Fame was officially opened on August 26, 1961. Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and United States Ambassador Livingston T. Merchant presided over the opening. "There is nothing greater than hockey to bring about national unity and a closer relationship between the United States and Canada," stated Prime Minister Diefenbaker at that time.
Pucks and more pucks.

Having outgrown its CNE location, the committee searched for an appropriate new location, deciding on an empty but highly impressive heritage building located at the corner of Yonge and Front in Toronto's downtown core. The chosen home for the move was an old heritage building formerly known as the Bank of Montreal, one of the few buildings escaping a fire in 1885. On June 18, 1993, the Hockey Hall of Fame officially opened at its extraordinary, new home at BCE Place now Brookfield Place.

Brookfield Place main throughway.

The Hockey Hall of Fame is an outstanding combination of treasured artifacts, multi-media exhibits, interactive games, a showcase for hockey's Honoured Members and, of course, home of the Stanley Cup!

So, with the historical significance mentioned above, surely you can also understand the hockey nuts in this particular family wishing to travel all the way to Toronto to witness, yet another sporting Hall of Fame, this one “Ice Hockey”! Yahooey!

As we roamed from the beginning entrance of foyer displays, moving on to exhibit after exhibit, there was also the Hartland Molson Theatre and Esso theatres with presentations and films to view, the NHL zone, International World hockey jersey displays, Upper Deck collector’s corner, pucks on display to make your head spin, a player zone and a broadcast zone for all ages, a Maple Leafs locker room (boo!), and many more areas to spend time perusing and glimpsing for their valuable and important contributions to the world of ice hockey.

A replica of the Maple Leafs dressing room

Our children marveled over the actual ice skates, hockey jerseys, sticks, and pucks surrounding them. When we reached Wayne Gretsky’s actual goalie net used during the game where he was able to make hockey history, including 802 actual hockey pucks stacked and shaped into his record goal score, leaving everyone was in awe to see it.

Wayne Gretsky's 802 goal record was recognized
in this exact original hockey net.

This ice hockey stat shown here was not only viewed, but also celebrated, as well as fully witnessed historically on our own particular timelines of history. What a thrill to see familiar faces from all those hockey games on the television screen, either from cablevision early years, videotaped game VHS tapes, or from live action at the Coliseum in Vancouver.

This is it; The Original Stanley Cup folks!

The vault (shown here) where the original
Stanley Cup resides is locked up nightly.

Finally we worked our way to the former “Bank of Montreal” building front where the original Stanley Cup resides, tucked away securely under glass. In the same display area, there are many other important historically significant trophies our children recognized, some begging for photos with. With a slight smirk I followed one son around the entire room, obliging him by snapping many photos with well-known trophies next to him.

The Art Ross Trophy

You can only imagine the glee from this son to be here this day!

The Hart Trophy

The Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy

Oh heck, while we were at it, we had a family photo snapped too, all of us surrounding the Stanley Cup. Aw shucks! All the way here and no photo? Are you kidding me? Laugh

The family photo with the Stanley Cup trophy.

The Player and Broadcast zone was ultra fun for our children, all taking part in either shooting pucks or performing goalie duties against a live screen with famous hockey players skating towards them with their team mates in tow. All attempted their hand at radio broadcasting a famous hockey play of choice, and emailed selections of their final attempts to others for listening fun online.

Interactive fun!

He officially broadcasted several famous game scenes.

He Shoots! Our Goalie Saves!

Interactive games to play

The grand finale was drifting about inside of the “Spirit of Hockey retail store”, thinking of possibilities for the children, and for gifts.

I’ll be back with more of our Toronto trip….