Last weekend I attended the fall meeting of the Society for International Hockey Research, which was held at the above iconic location - Maple Leaf Gardens. They don't make 'em like this anymore! Maple Leaf Gardens was the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1931 until 1999, and during that time played host to no fewer than nineteen Stanley Cup Finals. It has since been renovated and is now a multi-use facility, with a beautiful ice rink that hosted a stick and puck session, a public session, and a women's college hockey game on Saturday afternoon.
The meeting featured a number of speakers from the world of men's professional hockey and related topics. Most notable to me was Richard Scott, a man who is committed to creating a league history for the CWHL, the ten-year old Canadian women's professional league, through his book Who's Who in Women's Hockey. He believes that tracking player stats, creating game timelines, designating 1st and 2nd All-Star Teams, awarding trophies for MVP and various positions, and the like, will enhance the allure and the legitimacy of women's professional hockey. He also noted parallels between the early years of men's pro hockey a century ago and these more recent early years of the women's leagues - parallels that are cause to be bullish on the future of the women's game. I made sure to thank him for his work and presented him with a copy of Seeking the Center.
In the evening I got to see the CWHL in action. My friend Benoît and I took the subway to the end of the line, and then got on the 44 Kipling Ave. South bus to the Mastercard Centre, a 4-rink facility which, aside from being home to the Toronto Furies of the CWHL, is also the Maple Leafs' practice facility and home to Hockey Canada. Along with several knots of Furies gear-clad girls and a number of families we watched the Toronto Furies take on the Brampton Thunder. The home team lost, but a good time was had by all.