For the record, the last time I paid a visit to the Hall was nearly 20 years ago in it’s old diminutive home at the Exhibition grounds.
Now situated in the old Bank of Montreal Building on the northwest corner of Front and Yonge, the Hall has a massive 57,000 square foot facility to display hockey’s history.
Upon entering the foyer to the Hall through the lower level of the building, one finds a large goalie mask display known as the Mask Columns.
After paying my $15 admission, that was worth every penny, one of the first things you see are nine foot statues of Dryden and Fred “Cyclone”Taylor.
A tremendous Montreal Canadiens Centennial exhibit is currently on display with memorabilia, photos, and equipment from the storied team.
A series of cabinets feature many of the team’s most honored players.
I made several passes through this exhibit during my visit, spotting something else each time.
From Jacques Plante’s personal Hart Trophy or a copy of the program from the 1975 New Year’s Eve game against Central Red Army to Jose Theodore’s toque from the Heritage Game and Joe Hall’s 1918 contract from 1918 for $700, many a unique Canadiens relic is to be found in this exhibit.
The note issued by Campbell and Selke, forfeiting the game against Detroit during the Richard Riots
At the far end, a large video screen runs episodes of The Heroes of Hockey series, featuring Habs Hall of Famers.
If there was a chair, I would have sat there for them all!
A variety of exhibits surround the centerpiece including a tribute area of the famed Stanley Cup dynasties.
The Canadiens own three of these displays – The four Cup run from the ‘70s, the “Forgotten Dynasty” four in five from 1965 to 1969 and the unequalled five straight from 1956-1960.
As I glanced through these fantastic displays, I couldn’t help but wonder, “If that stick, jersey, glove could only talk, what stories it could tell.”
My attention then turned to one of the most popular exhibits in the hall, the to-scale replica Montreal Canadiens dressing room from the Montreal Forum.
With locker stalls for several of the Canadiens Hall of Fame players, it’s interesting to look at the equipment used in the various eras.
I sat down on the bench of Patrick Roy’s stall and took the massive goal pads up to my leg. As I did I looked at the smaller brown leather pads that Ken Dryden and Jacques Plante once used.
More history is played on video monitors above the room while you tour around.
On a quiet June Sunday morning, I was able to take a high detailed video of the room.
Making my way to the Upper Deck Collector’s Corner I found a treasure trove of Canadiens memorabilia.
Rookie cards of Dryden, Roy and Lafleur adorn one of the card displays while a complete Shiriff/Salada Coin set (in it’s display) was mounted on another.
I even came across a cardboard stand-up of Doug Risebrough from the 1970’s. I still have this one and several other of these at home still intact in their packaged form!
A media pass from the 1993 All-Star Game was found in a huge cabinet of passes and tickets.
I worked my way to the Great Hall, which houses the Stanley Cup, the awards trophies and the Hall of Fame plaques of all the inductees, including 44 players and builders from the Canadiens.
The wall of inductees is rather tall so you may need to look waaaaay up to find your favorite player.
On your way out, you’ll find a pile of Canadiens collectibles to add to your collection at the Spirit of Hockey store.
I budgeted this time and just grabbed a 100th Anniversary game puck for this trip. I have a list in case you are going and would like to get me something. :)
I found it interesting that some Saku Koivu t-shirts were on at clearance prices. My trip was 10 days before the free-agent deadline.
Did the Hall know something ahead of time?
In the meantime, I offer my complete collection of Canadiens exhibit photos taken during my visit here.
I will be adding a second part on International hockey as well as another installment on the rest of the Hall of Fame to my site in the coming weeks.