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

What would a Lapland celebration be without a hot tub, best friends and a vessel for celebratory beverages? (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Hockey, in its most elementary state, is nurtured in the small community arenas that dot the landscape. Grassroots initiatives that put the local rink at the centre of a community's social activities. From before dawn until long after sunset, these local arenas are active with skates, sticks and pucks, nurturing the skills, and more importantly, the dreams of hockey players of all ages.

Boden is one such community; a town of 28,000 located in the province of Norbotten and nestled in the northernmost region of Sweden, just over 60 miles or 100 kms. from the Arctic Circle. The Norbotten region has produced some fine, fine hockey players, including Stefan Persson, who was part of the New York Islanders' dynasty from 1980 to 1983, and Thomas Holmstrom, who played a key role in the Detroit Red Wings' championships of 1997, 1998 and 2002. A third Stanley Cup victor from the region can now be added to that list — Niclas Wallin, the big defenseman who just completed his fifth season with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Niclas Wallin greeted thousands of fans from his hometown after bringing the Cup to Boden, Sweden. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
A fourth round pick of the Hurricanes in 2000, Niclas has shored up a solid blueline for Carolina. On Saturday, August 5, the Stanley Cup arrived in Stockholm, having flown from Prague earlier that morning. From Stockholm, the Cup was boarded onto a plane to the Kallax airport in Lulea, the closest airport to Boden. In the airport at Lulea, there to greet the Stanley Cup was the mayor of Boden and its most celebrated citizen, certainly on that day, Niclas Wallin.

The Stanley Cup was driven the half-hour to Boden, and taken to a large park located near the water, where 1,000 residents were on hand to see the Stanley Cup in person and to see Wallin. Speeches were made and Niclas was the recipient of a proclamation from the municipality.

When the civic duties had been completed, and after hundreds and hundreds of photographs, Niclas took the Cup to a house party.

Although there was thought of continuing his career in Sweden, after tasting a Stanley Cup victory, Niclas Wallin re-signed with Carolina's Hurricanes. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
For those of us not from areas neighbouring the Arctic Circle, it is difficult to comprehend the fact that at 4 o'clock in the morning, the sun is still very bright. At this time of year, in fact, the sun briefly sets for an hour or two, but the sun shines virtually all day and all of the night. The sunlight certainly is condusive to an all-night Stanley Cup celebration. Niclas's wife Louise and their children Linn, Marcus and Alexander were all there, as were his Mom and Dad. Numerous other family members and friends all were also on hand to celebrate with the Stanley Cup. A fire-heated hot tub was enjoyed by several guests, while Niclas was in and out of the sauna, de rigeur for homes in that area of Sweden.

While eating pretzels and enjoying beverages, Niclas explained that he had originally planned to return to Sweden to play for Lulea next season, where he played during the locked-out season, but the Hurricanes had extended a generous offer and he would, in fact, be dressed in Carolina red, black and white next season.

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On Friday, the Stanley Cup Journal will spend time with Mark Recchi on his time with Lord Stanley's cherished trophy. You'll want to know how this veteran star chose to celebrate!

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Kevin Shea is the co-author of 'Lord Stanley-The Man Behind the Cup.' The book, written with historian John Jason Wilson, will be published for the Hockey Hall of Fame by H.B. Fenn and Company in October 2006.

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