Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 35

Touring Anitgonish, Nova Scotia on a Lobster Boat!
Paul MacLean tours hockey's holy grail around a lobster boat in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. (Phil Pritchard/HHOF)
It seems like decades since the Winnipeg Jets played in the NHL, but surprisingly, the franchise packed up and moved to Phoenix just 12 years ago, in 1996. Even more astonishing is that two former Jets — Dallas Drake and Kris Draper — played on the 2008 Stanley Cup champion Detroit Wings.

Another former Jet will also soon have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup, and that is Paul MacLean. MacLean, one of the Red Wings' assistant coaches, was traded to Winnipeg in 1981 after playing one game with the St. Louis Blues, and proceeded to forge a name and reputation as a skilled. In his rookie season (1981-82), Paul potted 36 goals. In seven seasons as a Jet, in fact, he enjoyed three 40-goal seasons and three 30-goal campaigns. Paul later played with Detroit and re-joined St. Louis at the conclusion of his ten-season career; one in which he scored 324 goals and 349 assists for 673 points before hanging up his skates for good in 1991.

The Stanley Cup sits atop the freshly painted water heater that sits outside Paul MacLean's mother's house in Maryvale, Nova Scotia. (Phil Pritchard/HHOF)
Paul returned to his Winnipeg Jets roots (in a dotted line sort of way) when he joined the Phoenix Coyotes' coaching staff in 1996-97. In 2002-03, MacLean was hired as assistant coach to Mike Babcock with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, and the pair helped guide the franchise to an appearance in the Stanley Cup final that year. The duo was behind the bench in Anaheim for two seasons, but when Babcock was hired by Detroit, he brought along his trusty assistant. 2007-08 was their third season with the Wings.

When told he'd have a day with the Stanley Cup, Paul took it to the place he considers home — Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Curiously, he was born in Grostenquin, France while his Dad was serving with the Canadian Armed Forces. The family moved to Canada when Paul was two, and included in his early homes the cities of Coldwater, Alberta, Chatham, New Brunswick and yes, Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

Both Paul and his wife Sharon come from fair-sized families. Paul has five brothers and sisters as does Sharon. Paul and Sharon have three children — Erin, David (video scout for the Phoenix Coyotes) and A.J. (played last season with the ECHL's Pensacola Ice Pilots). All of the siblings, as well as Paul, Sharon and the three kids, waited with baited breath for the arrival of the Stanley Cup. It arrived late in the afternoon of Tuesday, August 19.

Speaking of baited breath, Paul's first inclination was to take the Cup out on a lobster boat. It was not a particularly pleasant day, so the crew wasn't able to take the boat far into St. George's Bay, but nevertheless, the Cup sat on the deck with the lobster traps soaking in the unmistakable aroma of the sea.


MacLean creates his own "Where's Waldo" activity. Can you find MacLean amongst the group of family, friends and fans? (Phil Pritchard/HHOF)
Back at the MacLeans' house, which is on the water near Antigonish, each of the siblings and their spouses and children had their photograph taken with the Stanley Cup…and with that many relatives, you know the photographer's finger was sore from snapping pictures! Afterwards, around 7:00, the entire brood cascaded down on Paul's Mom in nearby Maryvale, and she was ready and armed with fresh-baked scones and cakes. Her house wasn't hard to find — her water heater was painted in the red and white of the Red Wings!

On Wednesday the 20th, Paul shared the Stanley Cup with his community. He stopped first at St. Martha's Regional Hospital, visiting with the children. Then, it was over to the cancer resource centre and then on to the R.K. MacDonald Nursing Home. Accompanying Paul and the Stanley Cup were members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

At 1:00, the Stanley Cup arrived with MacLean at the Antigonish Arena for a civic ceremony and a signing opportunity for the fans. Two hours was slotted for the time at the rink, but Paul ended up staying until 5:45, making certain that everyone who wanted a picture with the Stanley Cup got one. The festivities were also attended by, among others, Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald.

In the company of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, MacLean and the Stanley Cup were well protected. (Phil Pritchard/HHOF)
Paul was raising money for Antigonish's cancer centre, and was selling special t-shirts, featuring a cartoon of him with his well-known moustache. So popular were the shirts that they sold out almost immediately, and the poor printer had to make up more…on three separate occasions!

That evening, Paul took the Stanley Cup to Piper's Pub, which was packed tighter than sardines before the arrival. The pub also had created its own special t-shirt for the occasion, featuring a bagpiper holding the Cup. Surprise! They, too, sold out! While a local band rocked the place, fans were able to get photographs with the Stanley Cup, their donations again going to the community's cancer centre.

Back at his place, puck-loving Paul was peckish, and pleaded for pizza. "We've gotta get a pizza from Wheel Pizza," he said. "It's the best pizza place around." No one denied, as the cheese dropped from their fingers.

It had been an exhausting but totally satisfying day for Paul MacLean. "It feels awesome," he exclaimed. "There's nothing like it! You're around the people you care about an awful lot — your family and lots of friends in the community. It feels really good to be able to bring the Stanley Cup home."

* * *

Hey! On Friday, the Stanley Cup Journal will blow into the Windy City and find out how Brett Lebda and Chris Chelios celebrated with the Stanley Cup!

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.
 
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