We had a surprise visitor to our lake yesterday. We've been buzzing with excitement for a week now and even the rain couldn't dampen our enthusiasm and high spirits as the time drew near to meet our special guest.
Meet Stanley. Stanley Cup.
It's a 35 pound, 116-year-old, silver Holy Grail of Hockey enscribed with over 2,700 names of players and others who have contributed to team wins over its history. Ken Sawyer, CEO of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the current champions of the NHL, is our neighbour up here at our summer cottage. He invited all of us to an up close and personal look at old Stanley. I'm so indebted I agreed to mow his lawn for the rest of the year. Not really. But I would if he wanted me to.
The official keepers of the cup carried Stanley into Ken's cabin with little ceremony (well, we are at the cottage) but wearing the ever-present white cotton gloves. It's a sign of respect for the cup to wear the gloves, said one of the keepers. But since the players handle the cup and drink from it, we can't ask the fans not to touch it. Meet Mike Bolt, who travels around the world with the cup, and is one of the two keepers who brought Stanley to our lake:
He said we could touch it, so touch it we did. The humid, rainy afternoon didn't dampen the enthusiasm of cottagers who turned out in the hundreds to hang out with the cup. We kissed it, hugged it, and even sat a baby on top, but one thing we weren't allowed to do was pick it up.
"You can't pick up the cup! You want to pick it up? Then win it!" shouted Mike.
Not to sound too new-agey, but seriously, there's a palpable buzz when you touch this shiny piece of history. The cup sat on a special round table out on a screened-in porch overlooking the lake, but the cabin had the feel of the Vatican about it as we all swirled around. 'Giggling reverence' is how I'd describe the mood. Here's me, hugging my new boyfriend:
And my husband Doug (to the right, shown here with Ken) who is so nonchalant about the whole thing. Not.
Mike the keeper had some stories to tell and he's the king of trivia. He kept everyone enthralled for over an hour. The Stanley Cup has been in a pool, a 200-degree sauna, abandoned by a Montreal roadside in a snowbank, dropped in the Rideau Canal and hauled to a 9,000 foot mountain top. Players have guzzled champagne, beer and Fruit Loops from the cup, though not at the same time.
He pointed out all the typos on the cup. Here's one, the 'Maple Leaes':
There is a palpable energy when you touch this piece of Canadian history. Grown men turned into little boys, literally hopping around it, grinning ear to ear. Even celebrities aren't immune to its power. Mike said he was in Malibu attending a party with the cup, and Tom Hanks popped in to see it. He's just like everyone else when they're around the Stanley Cup, said Mike. Excited and silly and deferential all at the same time.
Stanley is bigger than all of us.