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One of the fun things about my job at Upper Deck is the ability to get out of the office to meet our customers – both the Hobby Shop owners and collectors. I have gotten to know quite a few over the years, and was very happy to be able to take a group of them to the 2014 Hockey Hall-of-Fame induction ceremony recently in Toronto.
This years’ 2014 Hockey Hall-of-Fame Class included Mike Modano, Peter Forsberg, Dominik Hasek, Rob Blake, Bill McCreary, and the late Pat Burns. It was moving to see Pat Burns’ widow and son there representing the legendary coach, as he was being inducted posthumously.
The weekend events include a media conference, a fan forum, the Hall-of-Fame game Friday night, the Legends Classic game, and then wrap up with Induction itself. I had the opportunity to escort customers to all these events, and a good time was had by all. The questions asked of the inductees over the weekend by media, fans and emcees were great, and their answers were everything from humbling to hilarious.
Friday started with a media conference, which I was invited to be a part of. It was a nice small group on-hand that filmed and snapped pictures of the inductees while they were asked questions in the Esso Great Hall. Afterwards, the inductees split up within the room and media went around and asked each inductee questions from close-up. Friday night was the Hall-of-Fame game at the Air Canada Centre as the Toronto Maple Leafs took on the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins.
Saturday was Fan Forum Day at the Hockey Hall-of-Fame. Visitors to the Hockey Hall of Fame received a special Upper Deck Dominik Hasek card at admission along with another special Upper Deck game-used card. Fans lined up to be part of the limited-seating Fan Forum, held in the Esso Great Hall. This event started with the moderator asking questions of the inductees, and then opened the floor to fans asking questions.
Sunday was the Legends Classic game. Last year it was moved to the Old Maple Leaf Gardens due to a scheduling conflict, and there is tight seating at that reconfigured rink. This year it was back at The Air Canada Centre. The inductees received their HHOF blazers in a ceremony before the game. Team Sundin took on Team Sakic in a showdown that ending in a tie score, on purpose, in order to provide a shoot-out. This is my favourite game all year as you get to see generations of classic players all together on the ice for one fun game. I even got to chat with hockey legend and old friend Pierre Pilote after the game.
I have a tradition of going to dinner at Gretzky’s restaurant after the Legends game yearly, and do so with some dear industry friends who also give back yearly to the HHOF through donations and photographic talents. I did a bit more looking through the back display cases in the restaurant this year and spotted this little Upper Deck gem.
Monday night was the induction which is an event I look forward to all year, every year. I was fortunate to be able to bring several customers to this event, and they all were very happy to be there. There was lots of mingling through the HHOF while bidding on Silent Auction items and playing other games for prizes. Food and drinks were everywhere, at every turn. Lots of former players and coaches were there and I had the pleasure of meeting a few again including Ted Lindsay, Lanny McDonald, and even some mounties.
The induction ceremony itself is very special, and though I could not get into the seated area, we all watched on televisions spread throughout the HHOF, and that only meant I could position myself front-and-center for the area where the inductees come to sign the Official Book of Registrar afterwards.
If you have the opportunity, please come for all the Hockey Hall-of-Fame Induction festivities some year. Packages are available for any and all of the weekend events, and all proceeds benefit the HHOF, which is a registered charity. Also, if you own any part of hockey history, please consider donating it where it can be preserved in its current state through the Hockey Hall-of-Fame for future generations of hockey fans to see. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (416) 360-7735 if you would be willing to donate items to the organization!