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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Holla for the Hockey Hall of Fame





I finally went to the Hockey Hall of Fame in blustery downtown Toronto, and maaan, if there was ever a place to get a hockey boner, this is the place – like getting Sky Box tickets in a bathhouse. The place is crammed with cool shit. For starters, at the entrance there’s a display of goalie masks through the decades, including a bunch of old, old-school ones that I think were made from half-cooked egg noodles dipped in melted boogers. And there are two worn by Grant Fuhr – the best being his classic white, blue ‘n’ orange one from the dynasty years. Sadly, however, they didn’t have Mike Liut’s long, white mask, which used simultaneously scare and fascinate me as a kid when I got his hockey card.

Once inside the Hall, there are so many cases full of memorabilia – jerseys, sticks, gloves, etc – from milestone games, it would take half of a day to read all of the title cards. Wanna see the stick Hextall used to score the league’s first goal by a netminder? Boucher’s pads worn during his recording-setting 332-minute shut-out streak? How ‘bout the actual net that Gretzky scored his 802nd goal in, thereby taking the league’s all-time scoring record from Howe? It’s substantially more exciting than the Hockey Hall of Shame, featuring Steve Smith’s warm-up jersey, Todd Bertuzzi’s bras knuckles and Mike Danton’s mug shot. Although the Gary Bettman laser light show is pretty killer.

But back to the Hall of Fame. It also has a whack of stuff from other leagues (including stuff from both the U of A Pandas and Bears), a couple of theatres showing short movies/highlight reels, trivia games, and a mock mini-arena where you can either shoot pucks (Alana’s brother Jon is trying it in the above pic) at a virtual net or try to save ‘em from a virtual Gretz’ and Messier. For the last one you put on pads and watch a big screen, which has holes in it that shoot out pucks corresponding to where the players shoot them from on the screen. The best part is where virtual Messier shotguns an entire bag of Lay’s potato chips and then barf gushes out of a puck-hole. A-mazing.

Oh, and there’s a replica dressing room, complete with skate sharpening room, exercise equipment, and the coach’s office. Above you’ll see a pic of the white board in the fake coach’s office, where the fake coach/scabby old mannequin in a suit sits. Look closely to see coach’s game plan. It consists of: “5 on 4,” “Crowd Net,” “Get in Fuhr’s Face,” and “Shoot for 5-hole!” I think the only thing he left out was “Give 110%.” And a drawing of a cock.

Upstairs, in the part of the building that’s an old bank, is the room with the various trophies and the Hall inductees. The cup (or a replica perhaps?) is there and you can get your pic taken with it, and touch it, which is pretty cool. Some of the old trophies are gorgeous, and it’s sweet to see ‘em close up. There’s a also a room dedicated to the various incarnations of Old Stanley, so you can see it go from just a bowl, to a stubby chalice-like cup, to a dorky tower, and see the redesign in the ‘60s, the extra rings, etc, etc.

Despite this, my personal fave parts of the Hall are a lot rougher around the edges. Firstly, the old-ass equipment is pretty amazing. I’m talking about tiny leather goalie pads with bamboo stalks in them for “protection,” hilariously heavy and unwieldy one-piece sticks, and goalie gloves fitted with iron forearm guards that make ‘em look like a cross between the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man’s arms and a suit of armour.

Secondly, the "other" Gretzky's case is awesome-weird. This includes the puck that his son scored his first goal with, his sister's track-and-field trophy, and and his dad's fishing trophy, pictured above. You half expect to see a Gretzky Family Hair-Doll or something.

Thirdly, I love the case dedicated to defunct NHL teams. I’m not sure why, but I think it has something to do with the hockey cards I collected as a kid and how I couldn’t understand how a team could just get up and leave after a city formed an attachment to it. Then again, I guess most of them leave because the city doesn’t form enough of an attachment to keep the money rolling in, I guess. So they were all there: the Quebec Nordiques, Atlanta Flames, Oakland Seals Colorado Rockies (I still have a Lanny McDonald card with him in his Rockies jersey), The Minnesota North Stars, and a bunch of much older teams that I’d never heard of. The gift shop is also the ideal place to score merch from a dead franchise. Alana bought a Jets T-shirt, and I bought her a Whalers pin.

Aside from a pin, I think they’ve got a Whalers puck, but that’s it. Alana loves ‘em in the ironic lovable losers way, of course (in their best NHL season they won 43 games, in their worst, a super-lousy 19), but they did have kind of a cool logo with the whale tale. I recall reading a Dave Semenko’s (small and very easy to read) autobiography – called, I think, “Hockey Face, Me Smash!!!” – when I was a kid and he talked about how pissed he was at being traded to the Whale.

After all, they were kinda of the red-headed step kids of the league in their latter years; the Boys on the Short Bus, if you will. Of course, they were pretty irrelevant from the get-go, being named after a profession that was long dead by that time in Connecticut and not exactly popular anymore in general. Being an actual Whaler wasn’t cool by the time the team was conceived in the ‘70s (of course, The Edmonton Trappers baseball team had a long run). No wonder the Whalers folded in ’97. Christ, why not just go by something even less relevant, like the Hartford Smithys or The Hartford Alchemists? Fuck it, if the owner asked me, “Should we call the team the Hartford Whalers or the Hartford Orphan Punchers?” I’d vote Orphan Punchers… just to see the logo.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Banky said...

The Whalers are fags.

4:36 AM

 
Blogger Biff Johanssen said...

Banky, you're an idiot. It's "The Whalers were fags."

10:23 AM

 
Blogger Pleasure Motors said...

Not to be a total dick, or anything, but actually, Hartford was called the Whalers because they started off in the WHA, and for some reason thought it would be clever to call themselves the WHAlers.

Orphan Punchers is still better, of course.

Oh, while I'm on the subject, I believe he called them faggots, actually. If you'll excuse me, I have an encyclopedia to go read.

11:25 AM

 
Blogger Dave said...

According to the Whalers link on the post, they were called the Whalers both because they were in the WHA and because historically Whaling was an important industry in the area, hence the logo. You can also see their ridiculous original cartoon whale logo.

At least they didn't go by the Hartford Blubbers. Yeesh...

11:53 AM

 
Anonymous Banky said...

"Banky, you're an idiot. It's "The Whalers were fags.""

Forget you and your Bluntman Comic idea. I'm going to direct a Degrassi episode as career-denouement.

1:01 PM

 
Blogger Superdude said...

Who the hell is Banky?

9:50 PM

 
Anonymous collin said...

Still not as good as minor league baseball, where you have the Lansing Lugnuts, the Ashville Tourists, the Batavia Muckdogs, The Idaho Falls Chukers, the Montegomery Biscuits, the Tennessee Smokies and the Cancun Lobstermen.
And, good friends, it was I, Collin Gallant, who was Banky. The real Banky, of course, being Jason Lee's closeted charactor from the movie Chasing Amy. Hah Ha.

12:22 PM

 
Anonymous iain said...

Wait, wait, wait. You can still buy Jets merch? Are you serious? That's MY TEAM! What Jets stuff did they have, other than T-shirts? Which logo is it? Are they still making the stuff, or is the gift shop a sort of failed-franchise outlet store?

Uh, 'Peg pride!

2:11 AM

 
Blogger Dave said...

Here ya go, Iain -- jerseys, T-shirts, hats and pucks.

https://www.hhof.com/commerce/home.nsf/subjects/cyberstorelayout

2:51 PM

 
Anonymous C-dog in the Med Hizzo said...

Jets Merch... go to Jersey City. Much less "in the new cyber-reality" but likely cheaper and probably not a web-based money funneling scam by Al-Qaeda.
-CG

2:30 PM

 
Anonymous iain said...

Sweet, sweet, sweet! Thank you! I was wondering if there was some place in Edmonton that actually had Jets gear. It's not like there's an army of Jets fans in E-town or anything. If they don't have it at Jersey City, I guess I'll have to order it online from the Hockey Hall of Fame. I wonder how much of a demand there is for this stuff?

1:37 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Might I point out that, historically, without the whaling industry, there would have been no economic buildup of New England, and without that, America was pretty much screwed. Second of all, the name "Hartford Whalers" had nothing to do with the collapse of the franchise, but rather the idiotic dealings with that fucktard Karmanos who, upon stating that if there was less than 11,000 season tickets sold for the 96-97 season, he would fold the franchise in Hartford. After the season, the Whalers inconspcuously left hartford, but only after Karmanos decided to screw with season ticket sales, creating all kinds of hell.

And my I further state that fans of dead franchises are more dedicated to their lost teams than most fans of active teams are to their own.

chew on that blubber.

9:03 PM

 

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