My pilgrimage to the Silver Stick Award

Posted on March 30, 2010

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In my last post (sorry for such a lame opening), I mentioned that the son of a friend had helped his team win the Silver Stick Award — an award which is apparently always kept in Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame regardless of who wins it. Seems a bit unfair to me, but I’m sure there are elements at play here that I don’t fully understand. In any event, beside the award is a plaque with the names of the winning team members.

Today, in a fit of “what-the-hell-was-I-thinking?” I decided to stop in and get some photos for Mike and his son, Gabe. The Hockey Hall of Fame is right across the road from Union Station. What could be simpler than a quick visit, a couple of snapshots, and out again in time for the 16:10 Lakeshore West?

Of course I knew there would be snags. I mean, the idea of going into the Hockey Hall of Fame made me feel somewhat like Richard Dawkins entering the Church of the Holy Sepulchre: no matter how hard either of us might try to follow local custom, we were bound to inadvertently offend at least some worshipers.

Nor is it an exaggeration to suggest that the Hockey Hall of Fame might enjoy a holy status in the eyes of the populace. It is, after all, Canada’s game. If the Battle of Vimy Ridge gave Canada its consciousness as a nation, it was our victory over Russia that modernised and refined this consciousness in 1972.

But if more evidence be needed, simply look at the plaque which hangs outside the hallowed doors:

See what it says?

Le Temple du la Renommee du Hockey.

In English that means “The Temple of the Fame of Hockey.”

Temple.

I mean — right?

In nomen of abbas , filius , quod sanctus Gretzky. Amen.

Anyway, this is what the temple looks like:

Within these walls lie jerseys still redolent with the sweat of Titans.

Can you make out the ornate entrance at the corner, hidden by the white van?

Well, anyway, that’s locked.

The entrance to the Hall of Fame is actually through the interior of this building:

The last of mankind’s stone buildings is overgrown by the strange, creeping glass forest.

This is the interior of BCE Place, which isn’t called that anymore because some other corporation bought it and put their name on it and I’ve kind of lost track of whose it is now.

Anyway, BCE Place is one of those amoeba-like, post-modern buildings that incorporate older buildings within them — in this case the Hall of Fame being one, and as seen in this photo, the RBC Dominion Securities building which is part of the long upper walkway.

The entrance to the Hall of Fame is in the lower section and looks somewhat like a cinema.

I’m not sure, son, but with all those hockey masks I’d guess it must be a horror.

From this point on, it becomes a maze of corridors and rooms and places from which one despairs of ever leaving again without the guide of wizards or hobbits.

My preciousssss.

Canada figured strongly in the iconography. I took this picture of either the puck or stick (or both) wielded in victory during the recent Olympics.

Do you suppose that champagne is from the women’s hockey team’s celebration?

And this is purportedly the “Locker Room of the Montreal Canadiens,” but somehow I doubt the entire team comes to Toronto every time they change for a game.

Finding the Silver Stick Award proved to be somewhat difficult. The guides at the front of the exhibition thought it was in the back, while the guides at the back of the exhibition thought it was in the front.

I have no idea where it turned out to be, but one very nice guide took me right to the spot.

And this is it.

It’s probably unnecessary to say so, but the silver stick award is the one at the bottom/front of the display. It’s silver. And it’s a stick.

So there you have it. The Silver Stick Award as it lies in a case in Toronto’s Hockey Hall of fame.

Only one problem.

The plaque now lists the winners in this year’s tournament, and while some guides were pretty sure there was a display of “records” (meaning previous winners), nobody seemed able to find it, and other guides were adamant that it didn’t exist.

So I’m a year late, dammit.

Sorry, Mike.

It was getting close to the time for my train, but one thing had been puzzling me the whole time. When I came into the hall, the attendant stamped something on the back of my hand. I couldn’t make it out, and through most of the museum the light was too dim to make out much from an ink stain on the back of a hand. As I was leaving, however, I stopped to take a closer look under the brighter light.

Seriously. What is that supposed to be? I can also see an octopus and a rather Terry-Gilliamish Satan.

As someone stopped near me to look at a photo, I showed him my hand and asked, “What is this? A ballerina?”

He didn’t answer, but merely walked away quickly.

Damn! And I’d almost made it out without offending a single worshiper.

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