Inside of the walls of North Toronto arena is where Tom Wilson‘s hockey career was launched. Getting scolded by arena manager Eric Anweiler for playing mini-sticks in the hallway, drinking Powerade out of the vending machine, and scarfing down post-game hot dogs are all memories Wilson recalled after bringing the Stanley Cup back to the place where it all began.
“Our team had an almost perfect record one season,” Wilson recalled, speaking to a collection of current North Toronto teams. “We tied the Leaside Flames and I think our entire team was crying”
After defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final in June, Wilson became the first North Toronto grad to capture the Cup. For Wilson, the decision to bring the Cup home to North Toronto Arena was an easy one
“To bring it here was a no-brainer,” Wilson told NHL.com. “When it comes to getting your moment with the Cup, this was always the choice. I spent so much time here growing up. It’s where my hockey dream started.”
After taking photos with and answering questions from North Toronto players, fans were invited into the rink to be part of the celebrations, which included an appearance from fellow North Toronto grad, Mayor John Tory.
“I love that a local boy brought it back home,” said Tory. “We embrace Toronto kids that are successful.”
In addition to giving back to the North Toronto community, Wilson made sure his day with the Cup had an even greater purpose, inviting a recent cancer survivor from SickKids to enjoy the celebrations alongside him. The public was encouraged to make donations to the SickKids Foundation, with a $100 donation getting them a photo op with Wilson and the Cup.
“Each player only gets the Cup for a day,” explained North Toronto General Manager, Rich Brewda. “It’s very generous of Tom to share this precious time with some of our players and community.”
Fellow GTHL grad Devante Smith-Pelley was scheduled to have his day with the Cup the day following Wilson. Both are GTHL grads.