The Stanley Cup is the stuff of legend. Its mystique is known the world over. Legends have hoisted it to the heavens over the decades in its history. Hockey fans of a distinguished age remember the likes of Richard (Maurice and Henri), Howe, Orr, Beliveau, and Plante (just to name a very few) winning hockey’s holy grail. Indeed, the Stanley Cup has provided players and fans with untold memories.
In April of 2011, I had the privilege of traveling to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and immediately ventured into the Great Hall, the site of all the historic trophies in the NHL. They were all there…Vezina, Art Ross, Norris, Hart, Masterton, among others. They framed the central point of the Hall…the Stanley Cup. The famous trophy was front and center. Although I had seen the Cup on other occasions, this was the first time I was able to actually approach it and touch it. As I studied the names engraved on its silver surface, the history of the NHL and earlier was evident. The memories of that day still resonate. If anyone has the chance to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame, do it. The visit to the Great Hall alone is worth it.
But the Stanley Cup memories don’t end there. It’s one thing to schedule a visit with Lord Stanley’s Cup. It’s another to actually stumble across the moment randomly.
Today, the Stanley Cup made an appearance at a local hockey shop in the mall near me. I happened to be at the shop and once again was witness to the Cup…this time, outside of the Great Hall. After once again reading the names, I stood back and watched as customers entered the shop, to be greeted by the silver shine of hockey’s greatest prize. I also had a chance to chat a bit with a member of the Hall, whose job is to safeguard the Cup.
As I watched the lineup for pictures with the unscheduled visitor, it struck me that at the core of every hockey fan is the reverence we all have for the Stanley Cup. We stood around, talking as complete strangers, yet with a hushed tone that underlined the silent thrill of seeing the Cup in person. Complete strangers find a common bond, and we find ourselves united as fans. There are no enemies when the Stanley Cup is present…just a common respect for the history of the sport we love. Hockey is readily available conversational pocket change. The Stanley Cup represents the unity we all share through the greatest game on earth. Regardless of what team you cheer for, regardless of the debates that rage in the hockey world that particular day…when we are near the Stanley Cup, we share the love of the game that surpasses all team allegiance.
Seeing the Stanley Cup at the Great Hall is amazing. But seeing the Cup through a random chance encounter is spectacular. When we as hockey fans have a silver lining like the Cup invade our lives unexpectedly, it is a memory that lasts a lifetime. It’s a memory that will unite all who were at the store that day, as we will always remember the day that Stanley dropped by unexpectedly.