Sometimes it takes an emergency airplane landing to spur people to write down their dreams. That’s what happened to Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis. As he told me almost 20 years ago, one dream was to own a hockey team. The once-beleaguered franchise he bought is now the #StanleyCup champion. What Ted said in 1999
Befitting its setting – an entrance facing a bustling, futuristic mall and an elegant trophy room featuring stained glass on the ceiling – the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto mixes the new and the old with aplomb.
Prefer the modern age? Enjoy a creative 3-D look at a Stanley Cup Game 7, with pucks and snow from hockey stops flying toward you.
Prefer history? Check out the days when players literally wore sweaters (now moth-eaten with puck-sized holes) and when fedoras graced the noggins of coaches like Toe Blake. Cases are also groaning with gloves, goalie masks and other mementoes from bygone eras.
The Hockey Hall of Fame has it all, from the short-lived (Cleveland Barons jersey) to the kitschy (a lunch box graced with Wayne Gretzky’s image). No one does trophies better than hockey, and there are some beauties — gorgeous silver bowls and even the oversized AVCO World Trophy of the defunct WHA
Of course, the coup de grace is the original bowl given by Lord Stanley. It rests in a vault near bands stripped from the Stanley Cup with names of former champions, done to create space for new winners. You almost feel guilty talking in such a sacred space.
The flow of the museum is a little unorthodox – you’re never sure which way you’re supposed to go – but if you find yourself in Toronto, a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame is worth the time.