Growing up in the 70’s in Philadelphia as one of two girls, my dad introduced us (me) to the thrill of hockey with the Philadelphia Flyers. Back then, the Broad Street Bullies were in their glory having won the Stanley Cup in 1974 & 1975, while I was too young to remember the wins, my dad celebrated with the rest of the city as the expansion hockey team proved it was deserving to play in the league.
Watching the games as a child on television, i remember the Hanna-Barbara animated Peter (Petey) Puck -he would explain the rules of hockey. Over the years, our sports happiness hinged on the talents of Bobby Clarke, Bernie Parent, Bill Barber, Pelle Lindburgh, Ron Hextall, Eric Lindros, Rick Tocchet, John LeClair to name a few. Watching the rivalries, the enormous talents of Gretzky, Lemieux, and the other players over the years, solidified my love of the game.
It wasn’t until i was in college that I attended my first Flyers game in the old Spectrum building. Seeing the game in person was fantastic! The Flyers fans are a special breed in this city – most of the tickets are season ticket holders and if you want a seat in the arena, it will most likely be in the last row at the top of the building (aka nose bleed seats). It would be many years later when i could afford to sit lower (i.e. – behind the net or center ice). My dad never wanted to go to a game in person, he enjoyed watching on tv but always wore the gear I bought him – the orange and black hats and sweatshirts – to show his Flyers pride.
The Hockey Hall of Fame has been on my must see list for Toronto for years. With this trip, I was determined to visit. My film festival schedule of years past left no time to visit, and this trip was cutting it close as well. I would check out of the hotel walk and with only one hour before leaving for the airport would do a bit of a drive by visit – not my initial intent.
The entrance is in the basement of the building complex past the food court. Having never been to Canton or Cooperstown to compare, I thought the displays were impressive. For a hockey fan like me, I knew that my hour was not enough so I’d have to do my best. The displays showcased the talents of many different individuals and teams involved in the sport of hockey worldwide, so I was learning as I visited.
After the displays in the basement, I walked up into the Grand Hall that you see at street level. The various trophies are on display as well as the induction booklet for the Hall of Fame. The building is quite impressive inside with the stained glass domed ceiling, wood paneling and the vault. I was in luck that the Presentation Cup was still on display before it was to leave to crown the new champions for the 2012-2013 season. The room was filled with only a few visitors and one worker. I waited my turn to see the cup and asked “what happens when the bands are full?”, the employee said once full, they are removed and stored in the back room allowing room for new team winners to be engraved.
Since the employee can only take photos that you buy, I had to ask another visitor to take my photo with the cup. I was super excited to see in person, Lord Stanley’s Cup and yet the moment was bittersweet as it reminded me of times with my dad watching the games at home as a kid. My dad passed away a week before my visit to Toronto so I didn’t get to tell him of my visit or show him my photo – he would have gotten a kick out of it.