TORONTO -- The Hockey Hall of Fame is an homage to great NHL moments and achievements, and to the evolution of the sport itself.
The museum's white whale, in terms of memorabilia? A puck used in the Chicago Blackhawks' 2010 Stanley Cup-clinching game, which has been missing ever since Patrick Kane scored the overtime winner in Game 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers. (Even the FBI is on the case!)
But there's plenty more to the museum than game-used pucks and jerseys. Here are the six most ridiculous items I found:
Up close and personal with NHL stars
Like, really up close and personal. Kane, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are perhaps the three best players of our generation, and eventual Hall of Famers. Although there are plenty of ways to measure their on-ice impact, the Hall of Fame chose intimate items instead. Kane, for example, is known to use his mouth guard as a chew toy as much as a protector for his teeth. So the Hall encased one of those battered white plastic suckers. Crosby's laundry bag is on display (it is behind glass, so no comment on the smell). As for Ovechkin? A rubber pair of shower sandals he wore during the 2011 All-Star Game because ... why not?
The Hockey Hall of Fame gets up close and personal with NHL stars. Like really up close and personal. Here is Patrick Kane's super-chewed mouth guard, Sidney Crosby's laundry bag and Alex Ovechkin's shower sandals. pic.twitter.com/3CWKR2JQLa— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) November 12, 2017
Peanut butter, tomato soup and hot sauce
Forget Wheaties -- although there are plenty of Wheaties boxes in the museum. Some of the best NHL star food endorsements are on the shelves here. That includes a can of Maurice Rocket Richard condensed tomato soup (wrapped in beautifully simplistic and retro red, white and blue labeling) and Dominik Hasek hot sauce. "Our hands are tied a little with a 33-year-old goaltender from Buffalo who hails from the Czech Republic," Hasek's agent, Ritch Winter, told the Buffalo Business Journal in 1999 about upping his client's marketing efforts. The hot sauce had to have helped. Oh, and there's also a jar of creamy Jaromir Jagr peanut butter. As Twitter user @JoePack pointed out, Jagr has said the peanut butter helped with groin injuries. The more you know!
10/10 I'd read a 5,000 word oral history about the genesis of this product. pic.twitter.com/yQOGgtzc9G— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) November 12, 2017
Not just any crutches. As the plaque reads, "These were the crutches used by the immortal Howie Morenz following his career-ending broken leg on January 28, 1937, versus the Chicago Black Hawks." Morenz was one of the NHL's first true stars and this artifact is a somber reminder to how his life ended. Morenz died in the hospital from complications from that broken leg. He was only 34.
Some of the most prevalent items in the Hall of Fame, besides jerseys and pucks, are crusty old leather skates and weathered shoulder pads, noting the evolution of hockey equipment -- including its very unsophisticated and less-protective beginnings. One of my favorite pieces are the early hockey gloves (we're talking pre-1900) that featured "horse hair padding throughout the fingers and wooden sticks around the cuffs."
Another hallmark of the museum is its ode to international competition. So does it seem odd, in the middle of the Olympic displays, that there are two empty cases of beer (one Yuengling and one Molson)? Not quite. These were the cases that then-U.S. president Barack Obama gave to then-Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper after their friendly wager for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Obama had promised to ship a case of Molson should the Canadians win -- thanks, Crosby -- but threw in a case of his favorite, Yuengling, just because.
As in an actual small to-go container of the sugary cereal, the kind you fill to the line with milk and find at a hotel breakfast buffet. In its display honoring the 2017 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, the museum notes that Leslie Rutherford, the wife of Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford, collected and handed out Lucky Charms to the team's wives and girlfriends. That also included shot glasses engraved with the words "Get Some Shots to the Net!!" and small metal horse shoes.