As a sports fan in Boston, I'm very fortunate to have some of the best venues in sports right in my back yard; the oldest ballpark in the country is steps from my front door, the Bruins and Celtics play beneath rafters that boast almost 100 years of history, and state-of-the-art Gillette Stadium is one of the finest and most electric football stadiums in the country. But even as a resident of such a great sports town, I never turn down an opportunity to experience another city's fandom firsthand.
Last season I took in some wild games in Chicago and Anaheim, but next on my list is experiencing hockey in its native country of Canada. Seizing the opportunity to extend a business trip and do some hockey sightseeing, the first two items on my tourist agenda are to catch a Leafs game and visit the Hockey Hall of Fame. The HHOF is massive (and I mean MASSIVE) and houses some of hockey's most treasured artifacts, so many that I'm planning on spending an entire day exploring everything the Hall has to offer. With the overwhelming number of exhibits under its roof, I narrowed down the top 5 things to see on my HHOF bucket list.
5. Stanley Cup Dynasties
The Stanley Cup Dynasties exhibit includes tributes to the nine franchises that dominated the league for entire decades at a time. The 1940's Leafs, 1980's Islanders and Canadiens of the 50's, 60's and 70's (just to name a few) all solidified their legacies in NHL history, and their collective dominance all in one room makes for one hell of an exhibit.
4. Stanley Cup Ring Display
Next to hoisting the Stanley Cup itself, a Stanley Cup ring is probably the best souvenir to commemorate the sweet taste of victory. They're flashy, they're stunning and they're on display at the Hall. These babies up close in personal will surely be a sight to see.
3. Leafs Centennial Exhibit
Only the Montreal Canadiens have a lengthier history in hockey than the Leafs, and all 100 years of the franchise's tradition are on display in a special centennial season exhibit. Even as a Bruins fan, you can't help but be overwhelmed by the artifacts from a century ago and players who wore the same sweater as players in this millennium.
2. Mask Columns
Being a huge geek over goalie mask art, one of the exhibits I'm most excited to see is actually right in the Hall's entryway: the mask columns. These columns feature 30+ masks from various teams and eras of mask design. (Stay tuned to hear if I actually make it into the hall or if I spend the entire day looking at masks in the admissions area...)
1. Stanley Cup
Well, this one should be obvious. The greatest trophy in sports calls the HHOF home, and if there's one thing I see on my trip to Toronto, it better be Lord Stanley. Of all the Hall's artifacts, the Cup––as well as the original Stanley Cup from the 1800's––has to be the most precious, and soon I'll get to have my very own day with Lord Stanley.
Stay tuned for a post-visit assessment of my pre-visit rankings! Til then...