Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals 2004: 22
The Stanley Cup Journal

Stanislav Neckar helped daughter Ella celebrate her third birthday with a very special party guest.
Both Stan Neckar and Pavel Kubina sat in the airport in Prague on Friday, July 23, waiting for the Stanley Cup to arrive. Neckar, from Ceske Budejovice, and Kubina, a native of Celadna, are good pals and do a lot of things together. Although each had his own day with the exalted trophy, they would comfortably overlap from time to time.

Stan took the Stanley Cup first. His first stop was at Prague's daily newspaper, Blesk, where he had photographs taken with the beautiful trophy. A quick stop at a local Mazda dealership, then a limousine took Neckar to his home, where he arrived in time to help his daughter Ella celebrate her third birthday. Little Ella sat on Daddy's knee and ate her birthday cake out of the Stanley Cup. "Daddy, this cake tastes funny," Ella might have said. "Get used to it, darling. It's champagne."

Five thousand fans crowded Pisek's town square to celebrate the Lightning's Cup win with Stan Neckar.
Ella took her Daddy and her Mom, Shauna, to a park in Pisek so the three could get special family photographs with the Stanley Cup.

Stan climbed back into the limo and had the driver wheel over to the local arena; the same one here he had first played hockey. Then, it was a stop with the Stanley Cup at his old public school. One of his former teachers greeted Neckar with tears in his eyes. "Stan, I am so happy that you have turned out to have such a career an that you now are a champion," he said as he examined the Stanley Cup. The teacher asked, "Did you ever visit the principal's office when you were going here?" "Oh yeah," replied Stan, then under his breath whispered, "…so many times you can't even count that high!"

Pavel Kubina visited children at a hospital in Frydku Mistkou, leaving
t-shirts, cookies, autographs and memories for the young
patients there.
Stan Neckar then took the Stanley Cup to Pisek's town square where a huge celebration ensued involving more than five thousand area residents. Afterwards, Neckar went to a hotel for a private party, where his buddy, Pavel Kubina hooked up with him once again. The two took the Stanley Cup bar hopping after that. They started at the New York Club, where the walls are decorated with license plates from all over North America. That stop was followed by a visit to the Smart Bar.

It was an exhausting and emotional day for Stan. The ten-year NHL veteran had not played with Tampa during the regular season, but was called up to the team for two games in the playoffs. Holding the Stanley Cup was a dream for Neckar. He sat for over an hour on a bridge with the Cup — alone and immersed in his thoughts — just him and the Stanley Cup. There was no sleep for Stan Neckar that special night.

At six the next morning, Stan and Shauna joined Pavel Kubina and his girlfriend Andrea for a flight on a private plane that took them to Ostrava from Pisek. When they landed, the four grabbed the Stanley Cup and boarded the waiting limousine. They drove to a hotel and held court at a press conference.

Pavel led the way and guided the limo driver next to the Cez Arena where he played his junior. Then, it was over to Futurum, the massive mall where Pavel signed autographs and had his photograph taken with the Stanley Cup. For the first of, oh…one thousand times, Queen's 'We Are the Champions' was played over the public address system.

Pavel returned to his childhood home in Janovice just in time to watch a news report about his arrival with the Cup in the Czech Republic.
Kubina visited a hospital in Frydku-Mistkou, taking the Cup to a number of children who are patients there. Pavel had made up a number of special t-shirts celebrating the special event, and distributed Stanley Cup-shaped cookies with 'Kubina' written in sweet icing.

The Stanley Cup was taken by Kubina to the village of his childhood -- Janovice. Although the population of the hamlet is closer to 1,700, better than 5,000 came from all over the area to celebrate the triumphant return of their Stanley Cup champion. Pavel went to his boyhood home where thirty or forty friends and relatives were to celebrate, but the house was bombarded with strangers eager to get a look at Kubina and the Stanley Cup. "You've got to bring it back to the town where you grew up," Pavel shrugged.

Nervous, excited yet honoured, Pavel Kubina and Stan Neckar present a championship jersey and the Stanley Cup to Czech president Vaclav Klaus.
That afternoon, Pavel Kubina and his family attended their local Catholic church. The priest conducted a special service in Kubina's honour.

Late that afternoon, Pavel played in a celebrity soccer game, pitting all-stars against a local team. Among those participating were Vaclav Varada and Martin Prusek of the Senators, Marek Malik from the Canucks and Filip Kuba of the Wild. The game ended in a 2-2 tie, with local hero Pavel Kubina appropriately scoring one of the goals.

In the evening, a reception took place with family and friends at a local hotel. Then, Kubina went clubbing with the Stanley Cup in tow. The bar hopping went on until 5:30 the next morning, and during one two hour stretch, Kubina and his friends consumed (or wore) eighty-five bottles of champagne in the process of celebrating. If you think the on-ice battle between Tampa Bay and Calgary was a battle, you should have witnessed the champagne war!

Monday, Stanley Cup Journal spends a day in Liptovmikulas, Slovakia with young centre Martin Cibak.

Kevin Shea is Manager of Special Projects and Publishing at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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