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A visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame

Walk through the “cathedral of hockey” with Lightning beat writer Diana C. Nearhos
Member plaques line the Great Hall with individual trophies on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
Member plaques line the Great Hall with individual trophies on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
Published Apr. 4, 2019|Updated Apr. 4, 2019

TORONTO — The cathedral of hockey is in the basement of a Toronto office complex.

Enter Brookfield Place and take the escalator down to the food court. Turn right at the bottom and you catch a glimpse. At the back, you can see a larger-than-life statue of Gordie Howe and the letters “H-O-C.” Continue between the booths and Starbucks and the rest emerges.

The entrance to the Hockey Hall of Fame is in the food court of a Toronto office complex.
The entrance to the Hockey Hall of Fame is in the food court of a Toronto office complex.

Welcome to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The greatest moments in hockey history are displayed here.

Right at the front are displays of firsts and milestones. The Lightning is a young franchise but is still in both of those. Manon Rhéaume was the first woman to play for an NHL team, making preseason appearances in 1992 and ’93.

Dave Andreychuk makes his first of many appearances in the milestone display. His gloves mark two accomplishments: 600 goals and 250 power-play goals, the latter an NHL record he expanded to 274 and still holds.

Next to the 11 1,000-point and 50-goal sticks, sits the trophy presented to Lightning coach Jacques Demers for his 1,000th win in 1999.

Andreychuk features on the other side of the entrance, as well. There, every team is part of a display, division by division. His stick from the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals represents the Lightning.

9&99, recognizing Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky, is the current featured exhibit at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
9&99, recognizing Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky, is the current featured exhibit at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Turn to the middle of the room for the features exhibit, currently “99&9,” recognizing Howe and Wayne Gretzky. Each legend has multiple cases dedicated to him, including eight sticks apiece.

A video plays with some highlights from their careers, including the story of Howe’s change from wearing No. 17 to 9, in part to get a lower berth on the bus.

Head toward the interactive games to find displays from each team, as well as a wall of goalie masks (a personal favorite of this reporter).

The Lightning display at the Hockey Hall of Fame features a Stamkos jersey, Vincent Lecavalier's stick and Dave Andreychuk's gloves.
The Lightning display at the Hockey Hall of Fame features a Stamkos jersey, Vincent Lecavalier's stick and Dave Andreychuk's gloves.

In the Lightning’s display, you’ll find Steven Stamkos’ jersey from last year, Vincent Lecavalier’s 51st-goal stick and another Andreychuk memento. He had set an unofficial record, playing 1,759 games without a chance to lift the Cup. The glove he wore to end that streak sits in the middle of the display.

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The best part of the Hall, however, is waiting upstairs: The Great Hall. All of the Hall-of-Fame member plaques line this space, which truly lives up to the cathedral label. Andreychuk and Martin St. Louis, as recent inductees, face the outside of the room.

In the center are the individual trophies (one Lightning fan from Charlotte, N.C., noted an empty space waiting Nikita Kucherov’s name on the Hart Trophy, awarded to the league’s MVP).

The Stanley Cup is on display in the Great Hall at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
The Stanley Cup is on display in the Great Hall at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Against the front wall, is the pièce de résistance: the Stanley Cup.

The best trophy in sports attracts fans from all over. There are two versions, the presentation Cup and the replica Cup, so that one is always at the Hall, even when the other is being awarded to a team, for example. Its original 1892 version lives in Lord Stanley’s vault in the back of the Great Hall, along with the retired rings.

There is not a new version every year, like in most major championships, so this is the Cup, the one the Capitals lifted last year and the one the Lightning hopes to raise in June.

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