“I was asked to put on new gloves, in case the Queen wanted to shake hands. She didn’t,” said Ritchie, the captain of the San Jose Sharks that night. “I put my teeth in. There were some bets I’d make a scene, but I think I did well.”
“We were told not to ski directly at the Queen,” Neslund, the former captain of the Vancouver Canucks, joked. “Speak to her only if she is spoken to. It was agreed that I would pick up the disc and give it to her. We were told that there were armed guards in the stands.”
Ritchie and Naslund spoke to NHL.com from San Jose, Sweden, respectfully, in the hours after Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, had died at the age of 96.
“I scored two goals that night, so the Queen had the best of luck,” Ritchie said.
Somewhat. The Canucks won 3-2.
Marcus Neslund of the Vancouver Canucks bows to a disc pick on October 6, 2002 by Queen Elizabeth II at GM Place in Vancouver, her last visit to an NHL game. From left, San Jose Sharks captain Mike Ritchie, 2002 Olympic gold medalists Ed Jovanovsky and Cassie Campbell, and 2002 Olympic men’s team GM Wayne Gretzky. Don McKinnon / Getty Images
“It was something very special to be a part of,” Neslund said of the showdown. “When I gave the Queen the disc, she told me she remembered the last time she attended a game – 1951 in Toronto.”
The Queen will forgive if her memory with Naslund in Vancouver has faded a bit. It was already 1951 the last time she competed in a National Hockey League game, but her last attendance was on October 29 in Montreal, 16 days after she watched a 15-minute charity fair at Maple Leaf Gardens.
The Queen was a very popular royal guest of honor at GM Place in Vancouver on October 6, 2002.
Wayne Gretzky stood beamingly behind Her Majesty that night, enjoying every second of the celebratory showdown.
Video: Quinn joins Gretsky at the puck drop party
The Queen and Gretsky, the unofficial Canadian king of hockey, walked the ice center red carpet for the start of the royal game. After a few moments Gretzky handed the Queen the disc that she would drop between Nslund and Ritchie, and Naslund took it and handed it to her to the delight of the roaring crowd.
“It was great that Canada was able to show off one of the things we love the most,” Gretzky told reporters later after watching the first period in a private suite with the Queen and her husband Prince Philip. “I really enjoyed watching the match.”
Princess Elizabeth leads a motorcade featuring Ontario Premier Leslie Frost (in Fez), Prince Philip Mountbatten, and Maple Leafs owner Con Smith on October 13, 1951 at Maple Leaf Gardens. Michael Sr. Burns / Hockey Hall of Fame
The royal couple left after their first period, affected by the hectic schedule of their 12-day visit to Canada as part of the Queen’s golden jubilee. But according to the Vancouver Sun, she left an indelible mark on those who watched the ceremony and those who spent time by her side, away from the ice.
They include: Cassie Campbell, captain of the gold-medal-winning Canadian team at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics; Ed Yovanovsky, Canucks substitute captain and member of the Canadian men’s team that won the 2002 Olympic gold for the first time in 50 years; and Howie Meeker, who was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs the last time the Queen — and then Princess Elizabeth — attended hockey in Canada half a century ago.
The Vancouver clash came nearly 51 years after the pair – Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh – were the last guests on the NHL circuit.
“I think it’s the biggest thing that ever happened to me,” Maker said of his role after the 2002 gala, and checked himself out to say it came after his marriage. “She’s so charming. She just puts you in the palm of her hand and looks at you and asks questions.”
“It was really relaxing,” said Campbell, who watched the first period in the royal suite. “I was totally surprised by that, I was so nervous.”
The Queen was greeted on ice before the match by four military musicians, who then sang the BC Boys Choir “God Save the Queen”.
Toronto Maple Leafs Captain Tedder Kennedy shakes hands with Princess Elizabeth at Maple Leaf Gardens on October 13, 1951 prior to the exhibition between the Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks. Turofsky / Hockey Hall of Fame
The last time Elizabeth was in Canada, she would hear “God Save The King” and “O Canada” at the Forum in 1951 before the Canadians defeated the New York Rangers 6-1.
Sixteen days before, four months before ascending to the throne, she and Prince Philip arrived at Maple Leaf Gardens with the pomp and feast of just 15 minutes of hockey, and their royal visit to Canada in 1951 was the first since her parents, King George. The sixth and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, toured the country in 1939.
As part of their visit to Toronto, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip attended a teen fair between the Maple Leafs and Chicago Black Hawks at Maple Leaf Gardens, capping the proceeds of the goal-free show to help disabled children.
Al Nickleson wrote in The Globe and Mail that the royal couple enjoyed the materialistic nature of what they saw.
He stated that “the princess asked many technical questions.” “During the goal struggle, she said that she felt sorry for the goalkeepers and did not like to play this position in hockey. Once, when there was a heavy crash of bodies on the ice, she asked: ‘Didn’t she?’ “To be a punishment?”
This show gave them a glimpse of what’s to come in two weeks. On October 29, more than half a million Montreal residents lined an unofficial procession route from the city’s airport, on the outskirts of Dorval, to the downtown Windsor Hotel, which in 1917 was the site of the meetings that led to the birth of the NHL.
This building stands a few lengths away from a skating rink from the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel, where the NHL project has been for years.
Princess Elizabeth talks with Toronto Maple Leafs owner Con Smith during the October 13, 1951 exhibit she attended at Maple Leaf Gardens.
The Queen has in some ways been a part of the Canadian hockey game for decades. For the 20 or so years from 1979, she overlooked a huge picture of the ice in the old Winnipeg Arena, her massive figure produced by billboard artist Gilbert Burch.
In 1951, about 200,000 people swarmed along Montreal’s mile-long road to see the Princess, then 25, and the Duke of Edinburgh, 30, heading from the hotel to the Forum.
“At the forum, the Princess and Prince Philip appeared to be enjoying their first full-length Canadian hockey match,” the Montreal Gazette reported. “The match proved to be one-sided but the fans loved it and it showed clearly when the beloved Canadians edged the New York Rangers 6-1.”
“It’s hard to believe that the attention of Montreal hockey fans can be diverted from their favorite sport, but that was the case on the forum last night,” Dink Carroll wrote in a front-page column titled “Crowd Watches Couple.”
He suggested that the 14,048 crowd “focused on Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip as much as they did in the competition,” detailing the couple’s choice of wardrobe in the Cold Arena.
Maurice “Rocket” Richard with the puck he used to score 324 goals in the regular season, before becoming the goal-scoring king in the National Hockey League. The record-breaking disc disc will be sent to Queen Elizabeth as a souvenir. Right: Floyd Curry during the 1947-48 season in Toronto with a pile of fedoras. Curry’s only hat-trick in the National Hockey League came on October 29, 1951, in the presence of the Queen. Turofsky / Hockey Hall of Fame
With the 22nd Regiment assembled at the ice center, the teams lined up on their blue stripes to play “God Save the King” and “Oh Canada.” Captain Butch Bouchard of the Canadians and Frankie Idols of the Rangers were introduced to the royal guests, and Canadian Arena CEOs Donut Raymond and William Northey at the Royal Trust with Montreal Mayor Camillen Hoody.
Floyd Curry, who would win the Stanley Cup four times with the Canadians over 10 seasons, scored three goals for the winners, the only hat-trick of his career, with Maurice “Rocket” adding two.
On November 8, 1952, Richard became the goal-scoring king of the National Hockey League, with his 325th goal passing Nils Stewart by a goal difference. Canadian General Motors Frank Silk has announced that he will send the historic disc to the Queen of England as a souvenir from her visit a year ago.
He wore the wand to display a portrait of the Queen and Prince Philip on one side, and the missile on the other with his record-breaking goal history and other players’ shapes on the full ocean edge.
As for Carrie’s place in history?
He joked years later, “Once I score a hat-trick against the Queen, what’s the point of scoring another hat-trick?”
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