Monday, 21 November 2016




I was born and raised in Toronto, yet I have never visited the Hockey Hall of Fame until recently (I know, absurd!). It is probably because I'm not a huge fan of hockey (strike two for me - wait, wrong sports reference?).

I never said I hated hockey. Source

But, an ad on the TTC promoting the Hall's “Maple Leafs Centennial Exhibit" enticed me to finally visit (great marketing). The exhibit celebrates those who have worn the Leafs' jersey and a few key moments in its franchise history. I also wanted to try something a bit 'different' than the norm for me - and as a visitor who is indifferent to this season's NHL outcome (and hockey in general), I believe I am as objective as I could be about my experience!

And, I loved it! Assuming most of you have visited the Hall - probably more than once - I will not be providing an exhibition review, here. But, if you're like me and have never visited, or have visited and don't understand why I enjoyed it, then keep reading (actually, keep reading either way).

To fill a persona, I was a child dragged to a fancy art history museum and felt completely out of place. As a result, I finally became that visitor who thoroughly enjoyed interactive technology. The Centennial exhibit is equipped with iPad stands for visitors to explore legendary Maple Leaf players in more detail. Unfortunately, these iPads were not working - the biggest unavoidable downfall with digital media applications!

The Hall is known for its physical interactive activities, such as goalie or shooter simulations. The goalie (the user) faces a large screen in which digitized players rapidly skate towards you while 'shooting' a real puck. The latter requires the user to shoot a puck towards another digitized screen with a simulated goalie. Since I was not in the mood for breaking any bones, I digressed.

During my visit, I noticed that the SportsCentre anchor 'simulation' was popular - and rightly so (it also didn't require physical activity). The picture below provides an effective description of its functionality, but it is interesting to mention that the teleprompter inside of the room also plays a hockey broadcast for the user to read, contributing to its authenticity.

The user heads inside the room, sits on the chair, and reads the teleprompter like James Duthie. Their image is then projected onto the smaller "TV" screen for their 15 minutes of fame. Photo: Julia Zungri

If we're keeping track, the Global Game Flight Deck in the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) room is tied for first place when it comes to my favourite experiences at the Hall. Users are faced with a large screen and two smaller kiosks. On the kiosks, one can glide through the globe, landing on an area of interest. The kiosk then provides a list of memorable videos about the selected country's hockey ventures. If desired, the user can transfer the video to the larger screen, making the experience interactive with other visitors. Not only is the technology easily accessible, but also serves its purpose by sparking curiosity and educating its user: I learned about famous moments in hockey history, but also became amazed at the untold history of the sport in countries rarely discussed in the hockey world.

 Users can view the video(s) they selected on this larger screen. Photo: Julia Zungri
One of the two kiosks visitors can use to drag and select countries of their interest. Photo: Julia Zungri

Also tied for first are the historical and political references throughout the Hall. The objects and labels about the USSR hockey team complemented each other in interpreting the political and cultural meanings and ramifications of playing hockey against and with the Soviet Union. For me, these instances not only provided the history of hockey, but also history through hockey.

USSR jersey worn by Vladislav Tretiak during the first Canada Cup tournament in 1976. After a 3-1 loss to Canada, Tretiak traded this jersey to Canadian defenceman Dennis Potvin. Photo: Julia Zungri

The Olympics exhibit, presented in chronological order, displays a case dedicated to the 1936 Berlin Olympics held in Nazi Germany - but, with the image presented, is obviously quite different than the others. At the same time, the Hall successfully sticks to its mandate by primarily focusing on hockey and not the historical context of the 1936 Olympics, which could be tempting.

Display case of the 1936 Olympics. Photo: Julia Zungri

As I'm becoming more and more interested in material culture, I found the displays of clothing and hockey equipment that were used throughout history fascinating. I did not know what sort of objects to expect when walking into the Hall (except that everything will be hockey-related), so I was very pleased with this discovery and appreciated another instance of 'history of and through hockey.'

These skates were worn by Cecil Blachford, who captained the Montreal Wanderers during four Stanley Cup wins between 1906-1910. Photo: Julia Zungri

Left: skates worn by Ottawa Senators' Cy Denneny between 1925-1926. Right: skates worn by Clint Benedict throughout his 19 year career. They look awfully uncomfortable! Photo: Julia Zungri

Lastly, one of my favourite 'political' references: a Canadian-friendly reminder that hockey is our sport.

A friendly bet between Prime Minister Harper and President Obama over the 2010 Winter Olympic men's hockey gold medal game. Photo: Julia Zungri
Perhaps there is hope for me after all - go Leafs go?


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