The tale of a longtime fan meeting hockey's holy grail, the Stanley Cup
In my opinion, the Stanley Cup is the best trophy in all of sports. Between its history, where itís been and the legends that have raised it to the sky, itís hard to find one comparable. Feel free to argue with me. However, NFL fans need not apply. The Vince Lombardi Trophy doesnít hold a candle to Stanley.
Regardless, the Stanley Cup is probably the most interactive trophy. Every summer, itís carted across the world, feted and passed around by thousands. Maybe 50 of those are the players, coaches and management who actually won the thing. The rest are the fans and judging from experience, hockey fans flock in droves to see Stanley.
This summer, I was one of them. So, this is the story of how a longtime hockey fanatic finally met Lord Stanley after 22 long years.
Yorkton, Sask. isnít exactly a hockey factory. Itís a small city surrounded by farms, but weíve had a few players sneak into ďThe Show,Ē as itís called. Jarret Stoll is one of them. He grew up in Yorkton and played his minor hockey in the city.
So, when the Los Angeles Kings won in Game Six, the first thing I did was text my sister wondering whether heíd take the Cup to Yorkton.
Her reply: ďProbably not.Ē The number of cynics in my family disturbs me. I was right. In August, Stoll took the Cup to Yorkton for the day.
His visit coincided with me returning to town for a week on vacation. Coincidence? I think not.
The Cup celebration included a parade, which I ended up napping through. The only part I regret missing is seeing a former teacher/die hard Kings fan walking in the parade holding up a poster of Stollís elementary yearbook photo.
The real party was the banquet held later that night. Of course, the main attraction stood on a tidy pedestal in the corner of the room: Lord Stanleyís Cup, in all his silver, shiny glory.
My dad took me to see the Cup, and Iím pretty sure he regrets it. As our familyís No. 1 cynic, he came nowhere near to matching my enthusiasm. That night I regressed from being his mature, adult daughter to a hyper little girl who kept dragging him around the room taking pictures.
My first order of business was to take a self-portrait with the Cup. My dad took a picture of me kissing it without bothering to hide his (loving) disgust and judgment. Well, truthfully, he took three, but the first two were blurry. His introduction to modern technology is a work in progress. Then I took a moment to take in the hundreds of names engraved on it.
I managed to get a photo of my two favourite teams: the 2000-2001 Colorado Avalanche and the 2009-2010 Chicago Blackhawks. It was a brief brush with hockey supremacy, but it brought back memories of watching Ray Bourque finally hoisting his first and only Cup with the Avs and Patrick Kane flying down the ice after scoring his mysterious OT winner.
A few hours later, there was another photo session with Stoll and the Cup. I couldnít pass it up. Confession: while Iíve interviewed a few NHL players, Iíve never met one in person.
People always wonder how theyíre going to act when they see a celebrity. Many think theyíre going to play it cool, maybe strike up a casual conversation with them. I sure didnít play it as cool as I wanted to.
When it was my turn, I shook Stollís hand and congratulated himÖexcept my voice rose several octaves and I sounded like I was on helium. Real smooth.
Then, we stood there awkwardly for 30 seconds while my dad tried to figure out my camera. Like I said, heís a work in progress. Then, Stoll shook my hand again and turned to the next person in line.
My dad and I left shortly after that, but I was miffed to find out the next day the party went until 6 a.m. and those that stuck around got to drink out of the Cup. Every time I tell someone that, they cringe. Yes, I realize the Cup has been kissed, touched and slobbered on by hundreds of people, but drinking out of the Cup is still on my bucket list.
I only spent a few moments with Stanley, but they were memorable. The only sad part is the glorious prize may not be hoisted by anyone next season.
Thank you collective bargaining agreement negotiations.
It sucks because while two businesses are fighting over billions of dollars (first world problems, hey?), itís the fans who suffer.
We love this sport because of the excitement, memories and moments, like a player sharing the Cup with a tiny town in the middle of Saskatchewan.
It isnít because of how much money our favourite player makes or how the leagueís revenue is distributed. Unfortunately, when CBAs expire, only one thing takes centre stage, but that stage isnít centre ice.