Tuesday, October 18, 2016

INSIDE THE BOOK





It is called the wow-factor, that moment when you are struck right between the eyes. For fans visiting Mike Wilson's hockey collection, the wow-factor strikes as you descend down the stairs to the lower-level of his home. Then, when you reach the bottom, your feet don't know if they should turn left or right, as you're immediately surrounded by glorious memorabilia.

After making my first visit to see the dazzling works, I wrote, "Taking a tour of Mike's mementoes is similar to entering a time machine and travelling back to explore a bygone era." His work to preserve the history of the Toronto Maple Leafs is absolutely amazing.

Now, Mike Wilson has made a portion of his collection available for everyone to see with the publication of his first book - Inside the Room with the Ultimate Leafs Fan, Centennial Collector's  Edition, Toronto Maple Leaf Treasurers. Toronto Sun hockey writer Lance Hornby and historian/video archivist Paul Patskou  round out the writing team.

The book spans the entire history of Toronto's NHL franchise from 1917 to the present day. Each collectable has been smartly photographed and gives the reader an excellent visual perspective. The content fills 224 pages and is nicely laid-out.

During my first visit several years ago, the piece that floored me was the original turnstiles from Maple Leaf Gardens dating back to 1931. Happily, when I read the book, they were included. Anyone familiar with Wilson's collection knows there is a story behind each item. In the case of the turnstiles, his childhood memories are part of the story and he provided insight into this aspect.

"After days or even weeks of anticipating seeing my heroes play in person, these turnstiles were the only thing left between me, the seats and the ice surface," Wilson wrote in the book of the gateway to Maple Leaf heaven. "My dad and I would arrive early and stand under the clock in the main entrance off Carlton, watching the other team's players arrive."



Paul Patskou elaborated on the turnstiles. "Turnstiles are different than seats. While a fan may not be able to sit in certain seats, good and bad, everyone had to pass through the same turnstile."

Lance Hornby detailed the difficulties once Wilson took possession of the turnstiles. He explained how Wilson's friend, Mike Wekerle, best known for his work on the television show Dragon's Den, stored them in a vacant house he owned until the room was completed.

With each piece, Wilson provides a collectable ranking measured in pucks. The turnstiles were given a five-puck ranking, which is the highest.

Using this method of calculation, my ranking for Inside the Room with the Ultimate Leafs Fan is five-pucks. It is both an informative and fun read for all hockey fans, not just those of the Toronto Maple Leafs. As the book only covers a portion of the collection, there is little doubt a sequel will be in the works!

And for Leaf fans looking to the future, this quote comes from Mike. "The only other thing I'd like to see in The Room is a big Leaf Stanley Cup celebration. That would be the ultimate."

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