Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 2009, 10

Matt Cooke signed autographs and offered photos with the Cup in an effort to raise funds for the Cooke Family Foundation of Hope.
(Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
Too many cooks may spoil the broth, but too many Cookes make for a great party — especially if it's Matt Cooke, his wife Michelle and kids Jackson, Reece and Gabby.

Matt Cooke's day with the Stanley Cup on Saturday, July 25 centred around his hometown of Belleville, Ontario. Now, as important as the Stanley Cup is, family comes first to Matt. When the Cup arrived at his home, there was Matt…gone! He was at Jackson's soccer tournament, but arrived shortly after Lord Stanley's mug.

Matt had secured a Ford Mustang convertible for the day, and it certainly was used as the Cup made frequent stops on that Saturday.

Matt gave Jackson a chance to fulfill his Stanley Cup wish. "Dad, can we stop at Tim Hortons and eat TimBits out of the Cup?" Matt shrugged — why not? So the Mustang pulled into Canada's favourite coffee and donut place, a place named after former Penguin defenceman Tim Horton, by the way, and Matt filled the bowl of the Stanley Cup with the small balls of delicious dough called TimBits. The kids happily gobbled the treats.


Matt's daughter Reece fulfils her request - a gulp of her favourite drink, a root beer float, out of her favourite bowl, the Stanley Cup. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)

A quick stop at the Beer Store provided some entertainment. Matt spotted a guy wearing a Henrik Zetterberg jersey. "I gotta get this guy," Matt said, so drove up near the red and white jersey and held the Stanley Cup aloft. The guy's jaw hit the pavement — he couldn't believe his eyes. "That shoulda been ours," shouted the dumbfounded fan, laughing as Matt drove away.

In 2006, Matt and Michelle established the Cooke Family Foundation of Hope. The idea was prompted by the tragic loss of their niece, Hope. Michelle's brother Brandon and his wife Jamie, highschool sweethearts, were expecting their first child, but in one of those incomprehensible tragedies, Baby Hope was born without a heartbeat. Matt and Michelle decided then and there to create a foundation that would raise money to benefit various initiatives through the course of a year.

A public celebration was held at the local A&P grocery store, where Matt's brother-in-law works. Fans were invited to come down, meet Matt, get photos with the Stanley Cup, with all donations going to the Foundation. Through 3 hours, more than 1,000 fans stopped by, and the Foundation grew by $4,500!

Since Jackson had his Stanley Cup wish fulfilled, it was Reece's turn, and she asked to go to A&W and have a rootbeer float in the Stanley Cup. So, off the Cookes went to the restaurant (and no, A&W does not stand for 'amburgers and woot beer!) and had the bowl filled with scoops of vanilla ice cream, then A&W's incredible rootbeer poured over top. Outstanding! And good to the last drop!

One of the important stops of the day was Hastings Manor, where Matt visited a dear family friend. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
Time for lunch, and although the kids were full, Matt took them and the Cup to the Northway Family restaurant.

When the Penguins won the Stanley Cup, Matt made a promise to himself that he fulfilled that afternoon. Twenty minutes northwest of Belleville is the tiny town of Stirling, and very quietly, Matt took the Stanley Cup to the gravesite of his grandfather to spend a few peaceful moments sharing thoughts.

While there, Matt decided to recognize someone else who was important to his career. He dropped in to visit Barry Wilson, the rink attendant who gave him extra icetime as he was nurturing his skills. Barry, as you might imagine, was thrilled that he was so fondly remembered.

The next stop was Hastings Manor, a seniors' residence back in Belleville, where a family friend is staying and Matt wanted to take the Cup over there.

Michelle's nephew had earlier missed the chance to see the Stanley Cup, so they took the big trophy over so he could experience it. Then, it was over to Skin Graffix, where Matt got his tattoos, to show them the Cup. Matt's tats are the family's initials on his arms and upper ribcage.

To end the day, the Cookes took the Stanley Cup to their cottage, just outside Belleville in Prince Edward County. There, they have a sizable piece of land — perfect for a party! Large tents had been set up for the 150 invited guests, who devoured pulled pork or steak sandwiches and corn on the cob. But there was also an unbelievable cake! It was an exact replica of the Stanley Cup — the same height and width and incredible in every way. What is even more incredible is that the cake was later destroyed in a food fight!

The group ate Skittles out of the Stanley Cup, a tribute to a friend's daughter who died as a toddler and, in her memory, they all ate her favourite candy. Swatting away the mosquitoes, the partiers drank refreshing mojitos (white rum, sugar cane juice, lime, sparkling water and mint) out of the Stanley Cup. A final toast and the Stanley Cup was driving down Highway 401 to Toronto.

A new exercise was added to Mike Zigomanis' rigorous routine at Pilates North. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
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Two-and-a-half hours from Belleville is Toronto, hometown of hardworking Mike Zigomanis. On Sunday, July 26, bacon and eggs provided a great start to the day, but that much better with the Stanley Cup placed on a seat beside you in King George's Pub. Fortified and feeling strong, Mike headed over to Proformance Health & Wellness to visit Dr. Aubrey Green, a chiropractor to many NHL stars, including Mike. Staying with the theme, Zigomanis dropped in with the Cup at Pilates North. Mike has discovered that pilates has really increased his flexibility and conditioning. "And it doesn't hurt that the instructors are gorgeous," he smiles.

Mike took the Stanley Cup home where his parents, Nick and Nikki, regaled the group with stories about how Mike would shoot pucks by the hour in the basement of their house. "I've got to take the Cup down there," Mike laughed. "It's practically where I learned to play the game."

Patients and friends were thrilled when Zigomanis took the Stanley Cup to Markham Stouffville Hospital. Nothing takes away life's concerns like a visit from the Stanley Cup!

Mike and his parent's Nick and Nikki share a photo with the Stanley Cup.
(Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
The Town of Markham then staged a parade to honour their local hero. Mike played his minor hockey in the town as a member of the Minor Atom Markham Thunder, later suiting up with the Unionville Jets for Novice. The rain had poured most of the morning, but miraculously, right on cue, as the parade was about to begin at 2:00, the showers stopped and the parade came off and was a great success. Mike and the Stanley Cup rode in the back of a heritage truck, greeted with great enthusiasm by the hockey fans of Markham (which is most of the town!).

The parade route took Zigomanis and the Cup through the streets of beautiful Markham, and ended at Mount Joy Community Centre. Mayor Frank Scarpitti welcomed Mike home to Markham, then after he responded with thanks to his hometown, Zigomanis spent the next hour signing autographs and posing for pictures.

Needing a place to wind down, they took the Stanley Cup to the Duchess of Markham, the same bar in which Brad May celebrated with the historic hockey trophy in 2007. Family and friends congregated to celebrate with Mike on his action-packed day.

The rained cleared on cue for a parade in honour of local hero Mike Zigomanis, arranged by the town of Markham, Ontario. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
A Hummer limousine pulled up outside the Duchess and Zigomanis and his pals rolled in to head off for an evening of partying in Toronto. At a traffic light, the limo pulled up beside a car of young ladies. Mike held the Stanley Cup up through the sunroof of the Hummer and watched as the ladies nearly veered off the road. Through the windows, it was easy to read their lips: 'Oh my God!' Using their cellphones, they snapped photos of the Stanley Cup before the limo passed them and proceeded to the downtown core.

The boys pulled up to the InterContinental Hotel where a room had been reserved for a Stanley Cup party. The boys took the Cup to the Century Room, a hot club in the King West district that has hosted parties with a number of celebrities — although none were 36 inches tall and silver! An area was cordoned off so Mike and his guests could drink out of the Cup. The fabulous day concluded with Mike and his friends dancing and having a great time in celebrating the very special occasion.

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Hard to believe we're halfway through the summer, but there are still a lot of Stanley Cup Journal stories left to tell. In fact, make sure you're back here on Tuesday when Sergei Gonchar takes the Stanley Cup to Florida.

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



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