You could tell it was a special moment for former Governor General of Canada Adrienne Clarkson as she looked at the Clarkson Cup in its new home Thursday.
A few minutes passed before she finally snapped her eyes away from the trophy, which bears her name because of her integral role in creating it.
"I just feel so wonderful when I think that long after I'm gone, this Cup will be in this case at the Hockey Hall of Fame," Clarkson said. "It's for the ages and it's for the future."
The ultimate trophy in Canadian women's hockey moved into its permanent home in Toronto just weeks ahead of this year's tournament, which will be held in Markham, Ont. from March 20-23. The Clarkson Cup has been awarded to the top team in the CWHL since 2009 and is often referred to as the "Stanley Cup" of women's hockey.
Three-time Olympian Sami Jo Small, who also plays for Toronto in the CWHL, has yet to win the coveted trophy.
"The hunger to win lies in the fact that you want to win the Cup with your friends and teammates, the ones you toil with day in and day out," she said.
Outside of actually getting her name engraved in the trophy, Small sees the Cup's new spot at the Hockey Hall of Fame as a victory in itself.
"It legitimizes what we fought so hard to do," she said. "Little boys and little girls will come in to the Hall and see the names of the champions over years. This really validates what we do as hockey players."
Gillian Apps, two-time Olympic gold medallist and forward with the Brampton Hockey Club, felt a true family connection Thursday as the granddaughter of Hockey Hall of Fame member Syl Apps.
"Every time I come to the Hockey Hall of Fame I see my grandfather's picture on the wall," said Apps. "The hardware and tradition in here is amazing and it makes it even better for women's hockey to be represented here too."
The Hockey Hall of Fame seemed just as thrilled to welcome the Clarkson Cup to its trophy collection.
"It's not only a great day for women's hockey, it's a great day for hockey," said Phil Pritchard, vice-president and curator of the Hockey Hall of Fame. "Hockey is Canada's game and we want to preserve the sport as a whole. The Clarkson Cup has such a rich hockey heritage and we are excited to bring it here."
As to why this hasn't happened sooner, the CWHL commissioner said it was in good time.
"Things really kicked into motion within a couple of weeks," said Brenda Andress. "If something's meant to happen, it goes with ease."
The idea stemmed from a conversation that Andress had with Clarkson in mid-January, and less than two months later both women were on hand to see it happen.
So where has the Clarkson Cup been stored for the last few years?
"It's a secret," joked Andress, and it really doesn't matter. Moving forward, hockey fans will know where to find it.
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