Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 09
The Stanley Cup Journal

(June 27, 2003) -- It's the stuff from which stories become legends. Since first being awarded in 1893, the Stanley Cup has been cradled and kissed, dropped and dunked. Its precious bowl has held champagne, beer, dog food, oats and the diaper generation. It's these kinds of stories that through 110 years of existence have given the Stanley Cup its reputation - its sterling reputation, if you'll excuse the pun.

In 1904, a hockey team from Dawson City submitted a challenge to the Ottawa Silver Seven looking for the chance to compete for the Stanley Cup. The Dawson City Nuggets began their trek to Dey's Arena in Ottawa on December 19, 1904, and after 25 days and 4,400 miles, covered by foot, bicycle, dogsled, boat and train, the team finally arrived in Ottawa on January 12, 1905. After a night of celebration as guests of their competitors, Game 1 took place the next day with Ottawa defeating Dawson City 9-2. Three days later, on January 16, Ottawa finished off the Nuggets 23-2. In a later celebration, Silver Seven star Harvey Pulford drop-kicked the Stanley Cup from a bridge onto the frozen Rideau Canal. The next morning, coach Alf Smith remembered the Cup's fate and went back to retrieve the trophy.

Pamela Anderson drinks from the Stanley Cup
A Cradle Alternative.
In 1924, the Montreal Canadiens were going to the home of their coach, Leo Dandurand, after their Stanley Cup win against the Calgary Tigers. The car, packed with exuberant victors like Howie Morenz, Aurele Joliat and brothers Sprague and Odie Cleghorn, got a flat tire, and the players poured out of the car to fix it. When they reached the Dandurand home, the celebrations continued until one of the players, likely Sprague Cleghorn, asked where the Stanly Cup was. The boys realized it had been left on the street corner when they were repairing the tire. They rushed back, and several hours after having left the trophy, were relieved to discover the Stanley Cup sitting right where they had left it.

The New York Rangers finished off the Toronto Maple Leafs on an overtime goal in Game 6 on April 13, 1940 to win the Stanley Cup championship in Toronto. The Rangers planned a victory celebration in Toronto's Royal York Hotel, expecting the players, team executives and a few friends for an anticipated party for 35. But the Rangers never dreamed that the entire group of celebrants from a dance in an adjoining room would crash the party, anxious for a look at the Stanley Cup and a sip of champagne. The next morning, the Rangers' brass exploded when they received a bill for $3,700 worth of alcohol -- an exorbitant amount of money at the time.

On April 25, the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup. After the game, centre Red Kelly collapsed in the shower from an injury and was unable to participate in the team's celebration. Leaf owner Harold Ballard, who lived near Kelly, brought the Stanley Cup and two bottles of champagne to the Kellys' home so Red and his family could enjoy the victory. For a photo opportunity, Red put his infant son Conn (named after former team owner Conn Smythe) in the bowl of the Cup. "Conn did the whole load in the Cup," laughs Red. "He did everything. That's why our family always laughs when we see the players drinking champagne out of the Stanley Cup!"

Pamela Anderson drinks from the Stanley Cup
Guy Lafleur with teammate Steve Shutt during their Stanley Cup Parade.
After defeating the New York Rangers on May 21, 1979, the Montreal Canadiens were enjoying a victory parade to celebrate their Stanley Cup championship. The win had given the Canadiens their fourth consecutive championship. At the time, players did not get the Cup for 24 hours each, but Montreal star Guy Lafleur smuggled the Stanley Cup into the trunk of his car and drove it to his hometown. There, on the front lawn of his parents' Thurso, Quebec home, sat the Stanley Cup for anyone to come by and visit. In the meantime, team officials and NHL executives were frantic, thinking the trophy had been stolen. Lafleur returned the Stanley Cup unharmed late that night and was scolded, but twenty years later, people still brag that they were there to see the Stanley Cup on Guy Lafleur's lawn.

In 1994, an urban legend sprang forth that Ed Olczyk of the New York Rangers had used the Stanley Cup as a feedbag for Kentucky Derby winner Go For Gin at Belmont Park. "That's not true," Eddie says. "I took the Cup to the Meadowlands one night and to Belmont Park the next day. I saw Go For Gin in the winner's circle, but no horse ate out of the Cup while it was with me." Olczyk is a huge horseracing fan, and owns two horses of his own. The new Pittsburgh Penguins' coach was fortunate to get his name on the Stanley Cup that year. League rules insist that in order to have your name engraved on the Stanley Cup, you must have played in at least 40 games during the regular season or in at least one game of the Stanley Cup final. Olczyk played just 37 regular season games and did not appear in the finals, but through the lobbying of his teammates, Eddie Olczyk got his name engraved on the Stanley Cup, the only time in his 16-season NHL career.

In 1996, the Colorado Avalanche faced the upstart Florida Panthers in the Stanley Cup finals. Assistant captain Sylvain Lefebvre had been a rock anchoring the Avalanche defense, and on June 10 that year, Colorado defeated the Panthers 1-0 on a goal by Uwe Krupp in the third overtime to give Colorado a four game sweep and the Stanley Cup. During his 24 hours with the Stanley Cup, Sylvain and his wife Marie-Claire had their first child, daughter Jade-Isis, baptized in the Stanley Cup.

Pamela Anderson drinks from the Stanley Cup
Pamela Anderson takes a drink from the Stanley Cup.
On June 13, 2002, few people in the world were happier that the Detroit Red Wings had defeated the Carolina Hurricanes for the Stanley Cup than Bobby Ritchie. Ritchie, better known as rock star Kid Rock, hosted a celebratory party with his girlfriend, Pamela Anderson, for the Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings at the Beach Grill and Aqua Bar in St. Clair Shores, a suburb of Detroit. Kid Rock performed a few of his own songs ('Bawitdaba,' 'American Bad Ass' and 'Cowboy') as well as some cover versions of other hits while Pamela posed for photos with the invited guests.

The Stanley Cup's travel itinerary for this summer is just being finalized. Fitting in a day for each member of the New Jersey Devils plus team management to enjoy the Cup is no easy task. Requests seem infinite and fulfilling each is paramount - besides, the last thing the Governors of the Cup want is someone taking old Stanley on another Lafleur-like outing.

The Stanley Cup hopes it has grown enough over the past year to ride the merry-go-round.
Falling short last summer, the Stanley Cup hopes it has grown enough over the past year to ride the merry-go-round.
Currently the Cup is sharing a suburban New Jersey hotel with guardian Walt Neubrand; both prepared at a moment's notice for a date with a Devil. During the wait, the two have invited Hotel staff for pictures and stories, and have fielded media interviews. The last interview involved showcasing the Stanley Cup in the hotel lobby and documenting people's immediate responses. Most patrons went through the standard reaction: disbelief, amazement, slight panic (making runs to the local convenience store for a disposable camera, searching for a phone to call anyone and everyone in hopes of sharing the experience, or simply trying to maximize this unexpected one-on-one visit), and finishing with a reluctant, gazed adieu.

The next few days will be spent with New Jersey executives and reminiscing about past days spent with hockey stars over the years. This calm before the storm is welcomed since Stanley's summer schedule is nearly as grueling and exhilarating as the Stanley Cup playoffs themselves.

Kevin Shea is a hockey journalist and historian based in Toronto.

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