Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame Is Must-Stop On Any Weekendtrip North Of The Border

on January 16, 2013

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If Canada is the home of hockey, then Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame is its living room.

The Hockey Hall of Fame (30 Yonge Street, Toronto ON) is the perfect place to learn more about Canada’s game.

Originally situated at the Canadian National Exhibition in 1961, the HHOF moved into its current home at Brookfield Place in 1993. The $35 million facility features 57,000 square feet of hockey memorabilia and is the perfect place for a quick weekend trip.

There are now over 14 different exhibits that both hockey and non-hockey fans can enjoy and these include:

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The NHL Zone

With two nine-foot tall statues of Cyclone Taylor and Ken Dryden at the entrance, the “Legends” space features tributes to some of the Hall’s inductees including Gordie Howe and Bobby Orr. This is complimented by a “NHL Today” section which highlights some of the stars of today.

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The “Retro” portion presents franchise histories including nods to teams of yesteryear including the Kansas City Scouts and Brooklyn Americans. “NHL Milestones” notes some of the game’s best records including Darryl Sittler’s 10-point single-game performance and my personal favorite, Bill Mosienko’s three goals in 21 seconds.

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VIA Rail Stanley Cup Dynasties

This display includes the team rosters for the nine teams that kept the Cup for extended periods of time.

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The Montreal Canadiens dressing room

This to-scale replica of the locker room within the Montral Forum is a must-see as it was home to 23 Stanley Cup championship teams between 1924 and 1996. The stalls commemorate some of the team’s best players including Guy Lafleur, Jacques Plante and Jean Beliveau. Hockey fans can also see the evolution of equipment through the years and even read the famed passage from John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Fields that the Habs’ dressing room was known for “… to you from failing hands we throw the torch, be yours to hold it high.”

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TSN Theatre

Upon our visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame, what I found particularly notable was the recently reconstructed TSN Theatre. Used in prior years to show a highlight movie of the most recent Stanley Cup winners, the Theatre is now home to an original 3D film, entitled Stanley’s Game Seven (3D). It tells the story of a regular group of guys playing the country’s favourite game, but its main allure is the way that it mixes original live action, computer generated 3D animation and archival footage of some of the most storied moments in NHL history including spectacular goals by Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. Both the theatre and the movie opened just a few months ago (November 2012) and filming took place at Memorial Arena in Penticton, British Columbia during a two-week stretch over the summer. There is something infinitely cool about getting handed a pair of 3D glasses and seeing a quick 22-minute movie which is included in the price of admission. The film plays every 30 minutes during regular hours.

Spotlight Theatre

A 120-seat space with a large-screen projection where the audience can enjoy old archive footage including Stanley Cup highlight reels and other hockey films and videos.

Panasonic Hometown Hockey

If there was any doubt that the game of pucks and sticks belong to us, this part of the HHOF is the answer. The area showcases various artifacts, photos, and historical info about the game. One of the newest exhibits is “Franchise Alley” which focuses on the stars of each NHL franchise through 15 different displays. The multimedia portion allows visitors to call up hockey information on any North American city through a “Geo-Hockey” interface.

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NHLPA Be A Player Zone

Your trio to the Hall of Fame would not be complete without trying the game out for yourself. A 2400 square foot simulated rink with two fan stands, rink boards and a scoreboard allow you to go one-on-one with a life-sized goaltender. Three censors process the trajectory and speed of your shot to figure out if you would score a game-winning goal or not.

If you prefer to play between the pipes, you can throw on a glove and blocker and feel what it is like to stop a sponge puck from Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier!

Game Time Trivia

If you prefer to showcase your puck prowess with your head instead of your hands, a trivia game is set up in the stands of the Be A Player Zone where you can take on other HHOF visitors. There are eight kiosks available as 10-minute games cycle throughout the day with four game formats.

Upper Deck Collectors’ Corner

While most of the Hall of Fame has a broad appeal, I like the niche factor of the Collectors’ Corner which is great for fans who used to collect hockey trading cards like I did. This exhibit features cards from the mid 1930s as well as newer editions. In addition to bubblegum cards, there are also other types of memorabilia to check out including old tickets, dolls and coins.

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TSN/RDS Broadcast Zone

You can do your best impression of Gord Miller or Harry Neale as you choose from a menu of classic hockey games and then try to call the action. You can privately listen to your own play-by-play at HHOF.com after you’re done.

You can also check out the “Hockey Night In Canada” drum kit that was used by RUSH drummer Neil Peart to record TSN’s updated “Hockey Night in Canada” theme song.

EA Sports NHL Slapshot Zone

Just like the sport itself, hockey gaming has also evolved over the years and just like the Power Glove changed how Super Mario Bros. was played, the Slapshot Hockey Stick is the latest innovation in video gaming. You can try using it against your friends in the Slapshot Zone. There are four gaming stations which allow eight players to play at once.

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Tissot World of Hockey Zone

With the World Juniors recently wrapping up, it’s the perfect time to learn more about the tournament’s history. At approximately 6000 square feet, the Tissot World of Hockey Zone is the largest exhibit in the Hockey Hall of Fame and its tribute to the game on an international sphere features histories and material from all 69 International Ice Hockey Federation member countries.

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The new exhibit feature the IIHF Hall of Fame and International Legends (a tribute to the careers of nearly 200 international players), the Triple Gold Club (honouring individuals who have won Olympic Gold, World Championship Gold and the Stanley Cup) and the Top 100 Moments in International Hockey. This is highlighted by the 2010 Olympic Golden Goal display featuring Sidney Crosby’s stick, gloves, and puck from when the Pittsburgh Penguins star scored the winning overtime goal against the U.S. on February 28, 2010 at the Olymic Games in Vancouver. The stick and gloves went missing during the post-game celebration but were eventually found with the stick inadvertently being placed in a shipment heading to Russia and the gloves found in teammate Patrice Bergeron’s equipment bag.

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Esso Great Hall featuring NHL Trophies, & Lord Stanley’s Vault

Considered to be the Hall’s crown jewel, the Esso Great Hall features portraits and biographical sketches of each of the 366 Hall of Fame inductees. In addition, the Hall houses all of the major NHL trophies including the Vezina, Hart, Calder and (of course) the Stanley Cup.

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Spirit of Hockey Store

Pick up a souvenir before you leave!

If you are planning on visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame from out of town, there are special packages available.

You can travel in style, stay at a four-diamond hotel, visit the Hockey Hall of Fame, take in the aforementioned Hall’s newest 3D feature film – Stanley’s Game Seven (3D) — and receive two limited edition Stanley’s Game Seven 3D posters autographed by the legendary Bobby Orr.

The Hockey Hall of Fame Breakaway package for two includes:

Your choice of either –
Two (2) roundtrip Porter Airlines tickets anywhere Porter flies

– OR –

Two (2) VIA Rail (Business Class) tickets to Toronto (subject to availability. Some rules apply*);

One (1) or two (2) night(s) accommodation at The Westin Harbour Castle Hotel;
Two (2) Stanley’s Game Seven (3D) prints autographed by Bobby Orr;
Two (2) copies of Stanley’s Game Seven/Premiere Edition (3D/HD) Blu-ray;
Two (2) passes to the Hockey Hall of Fame;
Three (3) 4×6 digital photos with The Stanley Cup; and
A voucher for 25% off the Spirit of Hockey Store with the purchase of $50 or more.
Package Price A – One night hotel: $325 CDN (plus 13% HST) per person†
Package Price B – Two nights hotel: $400 CDN (plus 13% HST) per person†

For more information, or to book a package, contact Joanna White at (416) 548-9681 or jwhite@hhof.com

If you’re a local Toronto visitor, general admission is $17.50, seniors are priced at $13 and kids from 4-13 can get in for $11. The HHOF is open on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information is available at HHOF.com