Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 05

Kris Draper reunites with an old friend.
(Craig Campbell/HHOF)
The Detroit Red Wings' Stanley Cup celebration on the evening of Wednesday, June 4 was sweet, although never long enough. Some of the boys were celebrating for the fourth time, while others, wide-eyed and grinning like the butcher's dog, were soaking up every second of their first steps into hockey nirvana.

Once the champagne-soaked equipment was stripped and packed away until the Wings are faced with defending their championship next fall, some of the boys shaved their playoff beards, leaving a sinkful of superstitious good luck.

The Wings then packed the celebration and flew back home to Detroit by way of a charter jet. En route, the players and their families were informed that a celebration awaited them at Metro Airport. As the plane touched down just before 3AM early Thursday morning, an invitation-only crowd greeted the boys with a standing ovation. Henrik Zetterberg emerged from the jet holding aloft the Conn Smythe Trophy, and shortly afterwards, the whoops grew much louder as Nicklas Lidstrom stood on the top stair for a few moments, hoisting the Stanley Cup high over his head.

Players, their families and friends, and team employees numbering 400 gathered in a hangar at the airport, and sipped the nectar of champions, in this case, Veuve Clicquot champagne, from an exquisite bowl — the Stanley Cup.

Red Wing sniper Paval Datsyuk celebrates with the Presidents' Trophy at the Red Wings' parade.
(Mike Bolt/HHOF)
The party went well past dawn, and the players were able to sleep in, as (ahem) practice had been cancelled. That evening, Thursday, June 5, a team dinner was held at the Bloomington Hills home of Mike and Marian Ilitch. We can assure you that, in spite of temptation, Little Caesar's pizza was not the food of choice served at the Ilitch's Stanley Cup dinner.

With the thermometer indicating 'hotter than hell' (and that was not an editorial statement on the Wings' postseason play), Hockeytown gathered to fete the conquering heroes. At 11am, more than a million fans, the vast majority dressed in red and white, lined a parade route that took the players down Woodward Avenue, ending at Hart Plaza on the city's waterfront.

Beginning, appropriately enough, in front of the Hockeytown Café, a convoy of trucks carrying Wings players paraded past the faithful, lined some five or six deep all along the route. The revelers cheered wildly as their favourites passed by — Chris Osgood was greeted with a ceaseless chorus of "Ozzy! Ozzy!" Kris Draper received a huge ovation, as did team executive (and perennial favourite) Steve Yzerman and Red Wing great Gordie Howe. The Ilitches were drowned in a sea of "Thank yous." But the loudest roars accompanied the players carrying the trophies. Osgood and Dominik Hasek shared the Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goalkeepers who played a minimum of 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against it. With an NHL-best 115 regular season points, the Wings earned the Presidents' Trophy. As Western Conference champions, they won the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl. Henrik Zetterberg held aloft the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, earned as much for his phenomenal defensive showing as for his team record 27 points in 22 postseason contests. Yet, the best had yet to come. "There it is," shouted a young boy, holding his Dad's hand. He was right — there stood Nicklas Lidstrom hoisting hockey's most cherished trophy, the Stanley Cup!

In the sweltering heat, Detroit Red Wings netminder Chris Osgood celebrates with the William M. Jennings Trophy.
(Phil Pritchard/HHOF)
The two-and-a-half hour parade culminated in a rally held at Hart Plaza, overlooking the Detroit River. A massive screen replayed triumphant Game 6, and those gathered hung on every play, almost as if they had yet to learn of the conclusion. No one, and we mean no one, was scurrying back to their office that afternoon. If anything, fans were trying to find souvenir towels or bottles of water that were being distributed. Temperatures hovered around the 33 degree Celsius mark (91 degrees Fahrenheit) at one-thirty as the last of the trucks carrying players rolled into the plaza.

The crowd's chant of "Let's go Red Wings!" grew stronger and stronger, and with introductions by masters of ceremony Mickey Redmond, the former Wings sniper, and play-by-play announcer Ken Daniels, the players gathered on the stage.

Ballcaps were doffed as Karen Newman performed the national anthem, as she did at each playoff game played at Joe Louis Arena. Then, Daniels introduced dignitaries in the crowd, including members of City Council. Michigan Congresswoman Candice Miller said a few words of congratulations to the hometown Wings, as did Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Then, the team was introduced: Mike and Marian Ilitch, general manager Ken Holland, assistant GM Jim Nill, coach Mike Babcock, followed by each of the players. Each waved and took their seat on stage.

The Stanley Cup joins an array of hockey hardware at Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit, Michigan. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Mike Babcock stepped up to the microphone. "It was an unbelievable thrill today to come down Woodward Avenue to see the passion of Hockeytown. You should be very proud to live here in the city of Detroit."

Hardworking Kris Draper, channeling the spirit of an NHL-playing uncle he never knew, added his appreciation. "We really, really want to thank everybody for coming out today. I've been fortunate enough to ride down Woodward four times now, and you guys are absolutely first class all the way."

Netminder Chris Osgood stated, "We love playing for you and we always will, right to the end."

Tomas Holmstrom lifted the Stanley Cup and, amidst the cheers, started, "When we turned onto Woodward, guys had goosebumps and tears in their eyes!"

Chris Chelios and Brian Rafalski added their thanks, and then the newest veteran Red Wing stepped up and embraced the crowd. "Thank you to everyone out there, from Flint, from Grand Rapids all the way back home to Detroit, without you, this wouldn't be possible," said Darren McCarthy, adding, "Thanks for the ride!"

Dan Cleary was incredulous. "This is the greatest thing that's happened to me!"

Kris Draper and the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl are featured on WDIV-TV, Local 4 news.
(Craig Campbell/HHOF)
Finally, Nicklas Lidstrom stepped up to the podium, almost drowned out by the cheering. "Coming down Woodward, I heard a lot of 'thank yous' from a lot of people, but we as a team would like to thank you, the fans, for your support and what you do for us. You're a hardworking city and a hardworking state, and that's the way we try to be as a team."

Lidstrom orchestrated a team photo. Cleverly, he had his teammates face away from the crowd, so that when the photograph was taken, the team had a background of exuberant fans sporting red and white.

The 45-minute rally ends with a sea of fans slowly leaving the plaza. Many joined the players, and the Stanley Cup, at Cheli's Chili Bar, a downtown restaurant owned by defenceman Chris Chelios.

Saturday, the players, coaches and management returned to 'The Joe' (Joe Louis Arena) for one final time this 2007-08 season. There, dressed in full uniform, the team had a victory photograph taken along with all the hardware earned by the team this season. Front and centre, of course, was the Stanley Cup. Afterwards, individual shots with family and friends became souvenir trophies of an extraordinary season.

Later that afternoon, Draper and Rafalski threw out the first pitch at Comerica Park, preceding a ballgame between the Detroit Tigers and the Cleveland Indians. The Red Wings' luck rubbed off on their baseball colleagues — the Tigers doubled the Indians 8 to 4.

On Friday, we'll open the Stanley Cup Journal to a new page and let you know about a phenomenal movie premiere and a high profile TV appearance plus the results of the NHL Awards. Y'all come back now, hear?

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

All Photographs are property of the Hockey Hall of Fame or Getty Images and may not be reproduced without prior written consent. For more information regarding use of our photographs please contact us.
 
Stanley Cup Final
Game Six
2 min 56 sec

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Dressing Room
Party
2 min 4 sec

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Cup Celebration
& Parade
4 min 10 sec

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Team Photo
Shoot 1 min 11 sec

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