QUEBEC CITY – Sure, today’s stars are bigger, stronger, and faster than the NHLers in the first half of the 20th century. But let’s put Sidney Crosby or Jaromir Jagr in Cecil Blachford’s skates and see if they still can move. Blachford, after all, won the Stanley Cup five times between 1906 and 1910.
Maybe Evgeni Malkin wouldn’t do a breakaway slapshot if he had a stick like the Winnipeg Victorias’ players had in 1896.
Those are just a tiny part of the Hockey Hall of Fame’s traveling exhibition at the World Championship Fanfest in Quebec City. The exhibit features 20 different themes and almost 200 unique artifacts – including the IIHF`s top hockey playing nations.
Izak Westgate, who put together the exhibition, says that they wanted to find a collection that would have something for everybody.
“We have all the European big nations, we have the Quebec Nordiques here, we have the Canadiens, all Original Six teams, and then the 1972 Summit Series photo exhibit,” he says.
“You can see people crouching by the photos, and looking at the Team Canada team photo, picking out players and trying to recognize everybody,” he adds, smiling.
Within just a few steps you can go from “Punch” Imlach’s skates, to “Gump” Worsley’s pads, to Raimo Helminen’s helmet, to Vladislav Tretyak’s sweater from the Summit Series, to Nicklas Lidstrom’s sweater from the 2006 Olympic final, to a showcase of Wayne Gretzky’s career spanning from his first skates to his last sweater, to admiring the Norris Trophy, Maurice Richard Trophy, and the Conn Smythe Trophy awarded to the NHL’s best defenseman, leading goal scorer, and the playoffs MVP, respectively.
The most popular thing, though, says Westgate, is the Quebec Nordiques case with Joe Sakic’s pants, Guy Lafleur’s sweater, and Peter Stastny’s and Michel Goulet’s sticks, among other things. Lafleur is represented in the exhibitiong by both his Nordiques’ and Canadiens’ sweaters.
The HHOF exhibition is a treat for any hockey lover, regardless of nationality or age. Frederique Philippon, 3, was at the exhibit with her mother, Sylvie, admiring the Czech national team jersey of Jaromir Jagr, Sylvie’s favorite since his days with the Penguins.
“I thought he was such a good-looking guy,” she says, laughing. “But besides that, I really like all the Canadiens things they have here.”
RISTO PAKARINENWayne Gretzky's first skates when he was 3, and other stuff.
Vladislav Tretiak's CCCP jersey.
Montreal Canadiens fans are excited about the Habs pieces.
Trophies for NHL player awards.