Monday, September 28, 2009

Hockey travels in Ontario

Today is my last day of a family visit to the Toronto area. Of course I managed to mix in alot of hockey related activities throughout the ten days I was here. Last night I went to the Sudbury Wolves vs. Oshawa Generals game in "quaint" downtown Oshawa.

The Gens play in a fairly new rink (2006) General Motors Centre which seats about 5,500. It was less than half full last night due to the fact that the team is in a youth movement in the post-Tavares era. It's a nice little arena with a major league calibre retaurant/bar and private boxes.

Christian Thomas, son of ex-NHLer Steve is one of the leaders on the Generals and plays alot like his dad. At 5ft 9 in he is also built like dad which may hold him back slightly in the NHL 2010 NHL draft. The Wolves sport a lineup with more star power. Jared Staal, 2008 Phoenix draft pick and the fourth of the Staal brothers looked good but I was more impressed by Marcus Foligno brother of Nick and son of Mike who was drafted this past year by Buffalo. He skates exactly like his old man, and definitely brings the Foligno intensity. On top of these two, the Wolves have Eric O'Dell who sits 3rd in OHL scoring and was a 2nd round pick by Anaheim in 2008. As well, the Wolves have John McFarland who was almost granted exceptional player status to play in the OHL as a fifteen year (like Tavares) and as a sixteen year old last year scored almost a point per game. On this night, McFarland notched two goals and an assist including the powerplay OT winner on which he drew the penalty at the end of regulation time. He is definitely one to watch for next year's NHL draft.

Earlier in the week, I had to make the pilgramage to the hockey superstore Pro Hockey Life which is just north of Toronto in Vaughan. There's about 10 or so of these stores in Eastern Canada and two now in Alberta, it's like walking into a Home Depot of ONLY hockey equipment and related merchandise. Pictured below is one of three glove racks...

The stick aisle was really something to behold, they have a stick testing pad where a machine passes you pucks to shoot at a net with computerized accuracy and speed results. Very cool.

The pinnacle of my week had to have been my trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Sure I had been there many times before, but not in the basement workshop of the Hall. I tagged along with Angelo D'Amico, son of Hall of fame linesman John D'Amico and an ex-NHL official himself. Angelo and I are in the process of doing a kid's book among other projects, and he was going to the Hall to drop off some of his father's artifacts for their collection. We met the Hall of Fame Display Designer out front and he took us in a side door to the basement under the Great Hall of the old bank building built in 1885. Needless to say I was in hockey heaven. What struck me first was the fact that there was so much great stuff just laying around the room any of which would have looked good in my personal collection.
Below is a set of game used Canadien jerseys just hanging on a wall behind some cans of pop. One may figure the Habs would deserve slightly more respect, not I though.
Here is a closeup of Joe Sakic's stick with which he scored the game winning goal in the gold medal game at the 2002 Olympics. I was able to hold it in my greasy little hands.
Here's a stick autographed by the 1931/32 Montreal Canadiens and Maroons. We see Hall of Famer Aurel Joliat in the middle. I was NOT able to hold this one in my hands.
Below is the guy in charge of the Hall's Displays checking out some of the items that Angelo D'Amico brought for the collection.
A pile of items from a recently removed display about Olympic hockey. Jersey's from the 1920's 30's and 40's just laying there, crazy.
This was from a World Championship entry in I believe 1951. Awesome looking jersey that would have looked nice in Nitzy's Hockey Den personal collection.
Here is an overall view of the basement of the Hall with it's original stone and exposed bedrock near the bottom of the walls. The subway can be heard rumbling by one floor down past the far wall.
I believe I told Mr. Hall of Fame Display Designer three times that he had the best job in the world. That means alot coming from a guy who draws cartoons for a living.


Geoff_9 said...

the only "hockey den" that is better than yours ... besides Bidnalls' ;)

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