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In hockey temple with sports fans

In hockey temple with sports fans

It’s not often that a mere mortal is given a chance to appear around the Greats Sports Hall of Fame by someone who knows so much about hockey that it could fill the lexicons. That’s what happened, and while we were there, we took notes.

Photo: Hockey Hall of Fame

As much as walking into a church, the Toronto Hockey Hall of Fame (HHOF) looks overwhelming. As far as the eye can see, there are beautifully lit monuments, things that, if they could tell, would provide interested parties with enough stories for decades. At the entrance, taking his job seriously, we were stopped by the ticket holder, asking if we had already bought the ticket. My guest, Zoltán Kovács, vice-president of the Hungarian Ice Hockey Association and who, as Paul Loicq Laureate, was himself a member of the Hall of Fame, calmly asks the man if his name is on the list of those who can be admitted without a ticket. The doorman looks away, his face a fiery red, then stammers, apologizes, and lets entry into the museum.

At the beginning of our tour, I immediately asked Zoltán Kovács to show me where to see the Hungarian members of the HHOF, and as someone at home, he really showed the way.

Two of the photos of the five Hungarian Hall of Fame members are temporarily unfixed to the wall for some reason, but the legendary referee, László Schell, and sporting director, György Pásztor, who passed away last year, have earned their rightful place. Victor Zelig, Former national team player and general manager of Hydro Fehérvár AV19 will be inducted into the Tampere World Championship celebrity.

Of course, the largest space in the gallery is given to the NHL, as we move on, traces of Wayne Gretzky, one of the inevitable figures in hockey history, are immediately visible, and Kovacs is already telling us what he remembers about the Canadian world star.

Click on the image for a larger size!

“I was a tourist in Canada and the United States in 1984, had a 40-day visa, and traveled through the New York-Pennsylvania-Los Angeles hub in a Greyhound bus. I arrived in New York with seven hundred dollars, and when I paid fifteen dollars for accommodation for the first night, I realized it was a problem Great, because it was impossible to live on that amount of money abroad for forty days. I called the airline I was traveling with to fetch the return flight for twenty days. I was told he would do it for two hundred dollars, so I turned that down too. The idea of ​​bailing out came Life after I visited friends I corresponded with about hockey as a teenager and tried to sleep with them.I spent a week with a guy from Ames, then flew to L.A. with a Japanese girl.I definitely wanted to watch the Canadian national team prepare for the Canada Cup in August, and in the morning One summer day I stood there with several of myself in front of the players’ entrance to the arena. I grabbed the Hockey News with Wayne Gretzky to sign. As soon as he arrived, barely 180 cm tall, in flip-flops and breezy beach shorts, Gretzky was— Kovacs says, and then to my question about whether they’ve met multiple times, he adds: Petr Stastny, the best Czechoslovak player, defected first to Austria and then to Canada in ’80, he was there with the national team. He became the first NHL rookie in history to reach 100 points in his debut season. By the way, when the Canada Cup was held on ice, in the then communist Czechoslovakia, the recording of the match was broadcast without excluding Stastny’s goals. You could only see it when the camera showed the replacement seat. As I knew little Slovak, I asked him for help so that I could watch the team practice, but he refused, and then I tried the doorman, who brought him all sorts of Fradis gifts, because I played hockey there at the time, and let me in to see the world stars.”

Members have been elected for more than sixty years
The history of the Hockey Hall of Fame (HHOF) is interestingly connected to another traditional North American sport, as it was the leaders of Major League Baseball who first came up with the idea and implemented the Sports History and Greats Hall of Fame in 1940. A year later, a three-member committee led by James T Sutherland researched and documented the history of hockey, with the goal of enabling their beloved sport to open its own church. Site selection led to disputes, and construction of the worthy building ran into financial hurdles, but in 1945, for the first time in the institution’s history, members were elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, 11 players and two sports. leaders. After many years, HHOF was founded in 1993 and currently has 294 players, 113 sports directors and 16 referees as members.
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By the way, the professional vice president considers it his duty to participate in the Group A Women’s World Championship, and he knows many of the current professional staff well. For example, he previously lured the captain of the national team Pat Cortina to Hungary, to Alba Volan, but the second coach Andras Case and goalkeeper Christian Boday also played under him before. Through her local knowledge and connections, she helps the Women’s National Team with their work and their daily lives. We’re walking toward the fully furnished locker room when he stops to see a Québec Nordiques jersey.

Our guide, Zoltán Kovács, of course, uses his name
It also found him in the Hall of Fame, of which he has been a member since 2020

“I told the guys whoever performs best this season will get a shirt like this, there was a big fight between the kids, Super Levente won. By the way, I was here with Levi when he first visited Toronto. My wife was a babysitter here at the time and I kept telling her To get a local team to invite us, but then I took matters into my own hands and called Steve Solomon, the president of the NHL Players Association, and he gave me the number of a coach who agreed to have us with his squad. We stayed with families and played in a friendly tournament. We didn’t mess around much, because hockey was still Much stronger in Canada than in our country, but it was an experience of a lifetime, especially since they also visited us in Hungary afterwards.” – says Kovacs.

Meanwhile, we take the stairs to the ground floor and find ourselves in the holiest place in the hockey chapel, on the “altar” of which is a replica of the Stanley Cup. This trophy is presented annually to the NHL champion, but it only stays with the team until another team takes it away from it, so it is the only trophy in the American professional leagues that does not create a new one every year, but travels from owner to owner. After a few photos, we go back underground and look for other remains that have something to do with Zuber Leventi, the former goalkeeper for the Hungarian national team. This is the memorial trophy, because Zuber won this trophy with his team, the Ottawa 67’s, in 1998-99, and a keen visitor can spot the Hungarian goalkeeper’s name etched into the list of winning teams at the bottom of the trophy.

Continuing through the shimmering maze lined with display cases, the galactic ice hockey situation is also discussed. Kovacs’ goal is to forge a seamless collaboration with the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), where local players and coaches alike can build a lot. He is working on implementing a kind of exchange program so that talented Hungarian professionals and athletes can learn from the best in the homeland of hockey. You can feel it in every word, and the first thing for him is the development of hockey in Hungary, as he said, the NHL is “the biggest elephant in the hockey zoo”, so it would be a sin to miss the opportunity to contact and learn from those of his rank, he met And he discussed, for example, Ted Baker, vice president of the OHL, and former New York Rangers goalkeeper John Vanbiesbrouck about the future joint work.

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Prominent figures in the Hall of Fame
A compilation that showcases the best of the best is necessarily somewhat subjective, but no one disputes that Gordie Howe, aka Mr. Hockey, belongs here. Howe’s six-decade professional career is reason enough in itself to call him one of the best players, but during this time he not only largely “survived”, but was a dominant player in the most powerful hockey league in the world, the NHL. He won four championships, was named to the All-Star Team twenty-one times, and was named the league’s Most Valuable Player six times. For a long time, Howe topped the NHL’s all-time scoring list until Wayne Gretzky hit #802. Since then, Gretzky has won the Stanley Cup four times by scoring 894 NHL goals, so his place is unquestionable. Only one other player, a defensive lineman, could make it into the top 3 is Bobby Orr, who had just played his first NHL game against Detroit, which had Gordie Howe in its ranks. Orr was an eight-time Norris Award recipient for the league’s best defenceman, twice Stanley Cup winner, and no one has come close to his +/- stats at the peak of his career, when he finished with +124 in 1970-71.

The North American Professional Hockey Association was founded in 1917 by six teams from major cities, which have been referred to as the “Original Six” ever since. These cities were New York, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, and Toronto, all of which currently house NHL teams.

“There was a bar on Newarry Pall Street named after Fat Mo, a mafia boss and smuggler in the 1930s. This place tried to reproduce the atmosphere of Chicago at the time. We once invited the president of the Canadian Hockey Association, Murray Costello, who played in the original six and was A committee meeting is currently being held in Budapest. Quite surprised to see the street and railway pictures of Budapest that he used in the 30’s and 40’s” Kovacs said.

György Pásztor, national team player and sports leader who passed away last year, gets his rightful place (author’s record)

The professional manager’s devotion to the sport is probably best indicated by the last anecdote he tells:“In the 1980s we were watching the Canada Cup on a shoebox-sized TV. We put the device on the porch instead of on geraniums, because that’s where we got the broadcast, and when the bus 43 departure signal stopped in front of the house chime, the picture shook with it, but we were glad we We could still see heroism.”

The Balázs Kangyal shirt worn in the elite vébé was also shown

The greatest NHL scorer Wayne Gretzky was, of course, a standout in Toronto (Photos: AFP):

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