Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 14
The Stanley Cup Journal

Stanley Cup -- 3 feet. Marshall Johnston -- 5'11". Paul Bunyan and Blue the Ox -- 18 feet. A day with the Stanley Cup -- immeasurable. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
The town of Bemidji, Minnesota is home to some mighty big things. First off, it is located mere miles from the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River. Secondly, local legend states that Lake Bemidji was created from the footprint of Paul Bunyon, and to commemorate the woodsman's mighty tall tale, a gigantic 18-foot statue of Paul Bunyan and his ox, Blue tower over the town. And then, on Wednesday, July 19, Bemidji was the home of hockey's mightiest prize — the Stanley Cup!

On this day, the Stanley Cup was the special guest of Marshall Johnston, the Director of Pro Scouting for the Carolina Hurricanes. Marshall, an Honoured Member of the International Ice Hockey Federation's Hall of Fame, just completed his first season with the Hurricanes, and was ecstatic to be given a day with the Stanley Cup. "I'm so new to the organization, I didn't think I'd get the opportunity," he admitted.

Johnston proceeded to take the Cup directly to the iconic statues of Paul Bunyan and Blue. Surprisingly, it was not the first visit for the Stanley Cup to Bunyan and Blue. In 1999, Rick Wilson, an assistant coach with the Dallas Stars, took the Stanley Cup to the enormous statue of the lumberjack and his pet.

Sitting high above the kitchen on the cupboard shelves sit the white skates owner Charlie Finley had his California Golden Seals wear in the early 1970's Marshall Johnston was a member of the team from 1971 to 1974. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
Marshall then took the Cup to his beautiful home on Lake Bemidji. 'Bemidji' is a First Nations word (it is actually 'bay-me-ji-ga-maug') for 'flowing across,' suggesting that the Mississippi flows through the lake Paul Bunyan (with much help from glacier activity) created. Johnston, daughter Amy, her husband Steve and his parents Nick and Paula Spiridakis, enjoyed a light lunch of cold cuts with the revered silver table-mate.

Inside the kitchen, on a shelf above the cupboards, sat the white skates worn by Marshall during his three seasons with Charlie Finley's California Golden Seals, where he played from 1971-72 until retiring late in the 1973-74 season to assume the coaching reins of the team. "I'll never forget this one time I was wearing the skates when I was in Boston," Johnston chuckled. "Players just didn't wear white skates, and this one loudmouth hollered, 'Hey Johnston! Where's your purse!'"

Carolina's Director of Pro Scouting took the Stanley Cup to Bemidji, Minnesota, where the Bugs are big enough to hold the Stanley Cup. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
Marshall took the Stanley Cup over to the Bemidji Town and Country Club to show his golfing buddies. The Cup was placed on the club's patio so members could get pictures of the prized trophy. Every one in turn slapped Johnston on the back. "Way t' go, Marsh!" Among those who congratulated the Hurricanes' scout was Bill Christian, who with his brother Roger, was a member of the first 'Miracle on Ice' squad -- the gold medal-winning United States' Olympic Hockey Team of 1960.

Wouldn't you know, the board of the country club had a meeting that evening, and with Marshall on the board, felt compelled to attend. "You folks have dinner without me and I'll join you as soon as the meeting is over," he told his family. Seated with the Stanley Cup, the extended Johnston family had finished the last few bites when Marshall hurried over to the table.

Seated at his lakefront home on Lake Bemidji, Marshall Johnston, his family and friends sat and watched the extraordinary sunset, along with the Stanley Cup.
(Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
"Just finished. Come on — let's go back to the house." There, with an incredible sunset painted across the vast Minnesota sky, family and friends of Marshall Johnston watched the sun go down over gorgeous Lake Bemidji. Johnston leaned back and let a smile form as he glanced at the Stanley Cup, then out over the waters of the calm lake. "It really doesn't get much better than this, does it?"

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On Friday, the Stanley Cup Journal celebrates first with Matt Cullen, then with Aaron Ward. You're not going to want to miss this one!

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Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and On-Line Services at
the Hockey Hall of Fame. His fifth book, 'Lord Stanley-The Man Behind the Cup,'
co-authored with John Jason Wilson, will be published in October 2006.
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