Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 12
The Stanley Cup Journal

July 4, 2003 -- For Pat Burns, the Stanley Cup has been as elusive as Lake Memphremagog's mysterious sea serpent.

Today's special - Burns avec Stanley.
Burns stepped behind the bench with the Montreal Canadiens in 1988-89, taking the team to the Stanley Cup finals in his rookie season. After four seasons and a Jack Adams Trophy as Coach of the Year with the Canadiens, Burns moved to Toronto. In both 1992-93 and '93-94, Pat guided the Leafs to the conference finals. But after four seasons and a Jack Adams Trophy with the Maple Leafs, his reign in Toronto came to an end. Pat returned to the NHL with the Boston Bruins in 1997-98 after spending a year on the sidelines. He manoeuvred the Bruins into the second round of the playoffs in 1999, but then, early into his fourth season, and having won a third Jack Adams Trophy, Burns was again on the outside looking in.

Pat Burns waited. And waited. It took the New Jersey Devils' CEO/President/General Manager Lou Lamoriello to recognize that the veteran coach was exactly the fit New Jersey needed behind its bench. "I owe a lot to Lou," Burns said. "I was out of the game for two years and I read a lot of articles saying I was done and I wasn't the style of coach people wanted. He believed in me." Pat instituted a highly effective system of defensive responsibility and led the Devils to a first place finish in the Atlantic Division. Then, New Jersey went to work and executed outstanding playoff hockey, collecting series victories against the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay's Lightning, the Ottawa Senators and, of course, an exciting seven game nail-biter with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. "We were not supposed to get by everybody but we did it," Pat stated. "The team worked hard." After twelve NHL seasons, coming close but never grabbing the big prize, Pat Burns collected the Stanley Cup championship he so wanted. And deserved. Lamoriello's selection was spot on.

The Stanley Cup arrived at Pat Burns' home in Magog, Quebec late Thursday morning. Burns has a terrific home in a thickly wooded area complete with a creek running through the property. Magog is a town found in Quebec's Eastern Townships about 20 miles north of the Vermont border and situated on Lake Memphremagog - a body of water complete with its own mythology. Since 1816, residents have reported sightings of 'Memphre,' a dark brown or black creature some thirty feet in length that eludes capture in a manner that reminds many of Scotland's Loch Ness Monster.

Pat took the Stanley Cup to the yacht club in Magog to meet the local media Thursday afternoon. Outside on the sidewalk sat a sign that simply read, 'Pat Burns - Coupe Stanley.' After addressing the press, Burns returned with the Cup to his home, where he celebrated in a relaxed atmosphere with wife Line, his son and a handful of close friends. One of those pals was not unfamiliar with having his picture taken with the Stanley Cup - Raymond Bourque joined the Devils' coach in celebrating the 2003 Stanley Cup victory. Bourque and Burns had become good friends during their years together in Boston.

Accompanying the Stanley Cup on this leg of its summer odyssey is Mike Bolt, another of the Cup's keepers. Mike was born and raised in the Leaside area of Toronto and played organized hockey in an area rich in hockey heritage - former Leafs Bob Davidson, Cal Gardner, George Armstrong and Carl Brewer have all called the area home. After managing his own cowboy boot and western wear store, Bolt joined the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995, working on special events and as a guest services associate. His first adventure with the Stanley Cup was a four-hour trip in 1997 to the downtown Toronto headquarters of Canada's public broadcaster, the CBC, just a couple of blocks down the street from the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Mike's many memorable experiences with the Stanley Cup include the 24-hour period the Stanley Cup spent in 2001 with the afore-mentioned Raymond Bourque. "Ray's enthusiasm really illustrated how much the Cup means to players," Bolt relates excitedly. "He really went to town. He had a party at the golf club he belongs to. He had special bottles of wine made for the occasion. They were labeled 'Vintage 77' (Bourque's sweater number). He had an ice sculpture fashioned after himself holding the Stanley Cup in the air and each of the table settings had a mini-Stanley Cup. It was amazing!"

Last year, the Keeper of the Cup joined Chris Chelios after Detroit's Stanley Cup win. "Chris had a great time with the Cup and included me in his celebration, which really made me feel great. There were a lot of interesting characters at his party," smiles Bolt as he reels off names like Kid Rock and actors D.B. Sweeney and John Cusack. Chelios took the Stanley Cup to his golf tournament the next day, although neither he nor Mike Bolt golfed. "We were just hanging out at the ninth hole, and Chris had a band playing. Well, Kid Rock came over and started jamming with the band. Unbelievable! He plays concerts for 20,000 people, and here he is performing for Chris Chelios, me and a handful of friends!"

Mike Bolt takes a beach breather in Anaheim during the 2003 Stanley Cup Final.
But Mike Bolt may very well put Martin Brodeur's 2000 Stanley Cup celebration at the top of his list of Cup memories. "Martin Brodeur really captured the dream of every kid growing up in Canada when it was his turn with the Cup. In 1995, he got all his childhood buddies together again to play road hockey, just like they used to when they were kids. On the same street, too. And just like years before, they played for the Stanley Cup - except this time, they really did! Brodeur's road hockey team lost that year," Mike laughs as he retells the story. "Well, in 2000, when the Devils won the Stanley Cup again, Brodeur called for a rematch. He got the same guys together and formed the same teams. He pulled out the same old battered net - it was held together with duct tape and had been through the wars and then some. This time, Brodeur's team won. But Martin told me the irony of the street hockey game. When he was a kid, the neighbours used to yell at them to get off the street, sometimes the cops would be called and his Mom tried to get him to throw the net out. Here he is twenty years later using the same net, the cops have blocked off the street so the guys can play and the neighbours are all out on the street cheering them on. Hilarious!"

Mike Bolt sums up his role as the custodian who accompanies the Stanley Cup, saying "Every day is a special day when you're with the guys who have won the Stanley Cup. It's been every kid's dream, and the players are no different than any of us; they are living that dream. Watching them with the Stanley Cup is amazing. That part of the job never gets old!"

On Monday, the Stanley Cup Journal will discover whether Memphre the Magog sea creature reared his head with the lure of the Stanley Cup at Pat Burns' Cup party, and then will head to Quebec City with Pascal Rheaume. You'll also meet the third of the three Keepers of the Cup and the subject of MasterCard's award-winning Stanley Cup commercial, Phil Pritchard.

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

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