At the Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave (The Cave, because it gets tired typing the full name) we get a lot of questions: How long did it take you to build it? How many broken hockey sticks did you use? Where did you get all the sticks? Where do you get all your ideas? What does your wife think?
Well, for the first "Plus-Minus" Blog I thought it’d be a good idea to start from, where else, the beginning. Along the way, I’ll be sure to answer these questions above, while providing a few interesting anecdotes about our process of building the Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave (I lied, sometimes the full name just sounds cooler).
One year we crammed 11+ hockey fans in this “mini Cave” (which was actually the playhouse you see in the pic) to watch the World Juniors, it was an amazing experience that foreshadowed future nights where we would celebrate Stanley Cup victories, playoff upsets and international tournaments. It was during this World Junior tournament and its uncomfortably intimate setting when my wife, Tiina, turned to me and said “you need to make something bigger.” I told you’d answer that question! It was my wife’s idea, clear and simple. That’s how our little play house expanded to what we have today.
Tiina has always been a huge supporter of my passion, and border line addiction, towards my other life partners: hockey and The Cave. It’s because of Tiina (who is Finnish and loves their international team), and all of the female hockey players and fans out there (including my daughter Tianna, a Canucks fan), that motivates us to move away from the term “man cave” and insist you instead refer to our hockey haven as a “fan cave.” We strive to ensure The Cave is a place that welcomes all hockey fans, regardless of gender, ability on the ice/road, whether you play hockey or not, or what team you follow. Just don’t listen to the Toronto fans who have visited The Cave, the may argue against our inclusivity.
Once we decided this was going to be a place for any and everyone, we started to include as many teams, eras, players, memories, experiences and innovations as we could. We thought about whether or not we could do the whole floor in hockey sticks, which is when we realised, if this was going to be done, it had to be done right; I needed a lot more hockey sticks, no joke, like 1700+ more.
We get asked...alot..where do you get that many sticks? Well, I continued to collect from friends and connections I made with local hockey rinks. Arena staff would be happy to have the broken hockey sticks go to a good home and continue their hockey story; otherwise, a land fill would have a lot more hockey sticks rotting in them.
If you plan to create something that requires a lot of hockey sticks, I recommend connecting yourself with a local stick repair shop. I did that with Brian Charlebois of Bladz Skate Sharpening at Eagle Ridge Community Centre and Glen Klassen of Pro Stick Repair in Victoria - both hockey enthusiasts and great people who agreed hockey sticks deserve a better home than the landfill. As we said, The Cave was literally built on passion, each one of those sticks has a story about who used it and you know who ever broke it loved hockey!
Once people caught wind of what we were doing and saw us literally building a hockey heaven from the ground-up, people wanted to help. This type of help varied from painting to donating materials. It was surprising, but now it is clear; everyone wanted to be a part of something special. I truly believe what makes The Cave amazing is its natural ability to bring people together. It has been doing this since before it was even completed. Family, friends, neighbours and friends of friends would come over during its construction and play some tabletop hockey and party. It’s this community element which makes the hockey experience within The Cave all the more better; us hockey fans have to stick together, and The Cave is a good reason to get together.
It’s very hard to put the experience into words, and that’s why we always advocate for people to visit. Watching hockey in an intimate, yet intense hockey environment produces an experience you can’t buy! It helps we have 6 TVs, 2 bars and countless hockey stick creations that will leave you amazed. But the icing on the cake will be the human experience of sharing a night with other die hard hockey fans.
As the years went on, so did the progress and development of The Cave. The Cave would have been completed a lot sooner, but we had our real jobs to attend to and we could only work on it on weekends and evenings – life happens right.
It was a lot of work, but that fun type of work that you can’t wait to get to. It would have been even more work if it wasn’t for the help of family, friends, neighbours and the community. It was extremely helpful and all of us at The Cave are very grateful for people’s time and generosity.
How do you show hockey fans that you appreciate their hard work? We engraved them in history on the most famous trophy in all of sports….No we didn’t put their name on the real Stanley cup, but we did engrave their names on to our 2 foot tall replica Stanley Cup.
I couldn't believe the response of some folks when they got to see their name on a Stanley Cup - it may not be the real Cup, but for any hockey fan, it will give you chills seeing your name on the greatest sports trophy.
We threw a huge thank you party at The Cave in June 2016. The party consisted of the 70+ people, which some hadn’t seen The Cave in years; needless to say, they were shocked to see what we had done. It’s because of those types of events that create unique memories that make us all appreciate The Cave even more. Once again, The Cave is the best vehicle to bringing everyone together, even if you are not a hockey fan, you can appreciate the values it instills.
Because we say The Cave is never “done” or “completed,” we decided the birthdate of The Cave would be the same day we started sharing it with the world, September 5, 2015. Now that The Cave has been “born,” it was time to start showcasing what we have done on the internet. It’s this digital outreach and achievements that will be the focus of our next blog edition. Here’s a little teaser for you, it includes: a Sing-Along with Rogers Hometown Hockey, being ranked #3 fan cave of all time, hosting a Molson Coors photo shoot, viral video: The Ultimate Hockey Loveseat (reached 2.3 million people), Instagram contests, partnerships, video production, creating our own Tabletop Hockey League (THL), release of our own podcast and being featured by the likes of Hockey Night in Canada and much more.