The Stanley Cup doesn't come out very often, but when it does, it becomes
a rock star like Mick Jagger. People want to touch it, have their picture taken
with it, and in some cases, sleep with it. Hockey's Holy Grail has been kissed
more times than Madonna, hoisted as often as Bud Light, and has more mileage
on it than one of Tiger Woods' porn stars.
The question is, why have sports fans become so fascinated with something that
has more nicknames than Shaq? First of all, Lord Stanley is by far the
coolest looking trophy in sports. The World Series trophy appears as if all 30
pennants on it will come apart when the wind blows. If you added eyes and
a smile to the NBA Trophy, you'd have Wilson from the movie, "Castaway"
on a nice mantle. The Lombardi Trophy is handsome, but it just isn't big,
rugged, and as attractive as the Stanley Cup.
In a sport that ranks dead last in popularity among the major ones, how did the
NHL's big trophy become the most coveted among players and fans? Until 1994,
the Stanley Cup was like Katie Couric's run as the anchor of the CBS Evening News:
On the big stage, but nobody really cared or paid much attention to it. Most of the
time, the Stanley Cup was touring Canada along with the team that had just won it.
For the people in the United States, it was out of sight and out of mind.
That all changed when the New York Rangers won it all 17 years ago. They
treated Lord Stanley as if they were taking the hottest girl in the world to the
prom. They showed it off proudly to anyone and anywhere. It went to stadiums,
swimming pools, strip clubs, and sandy beaches. It stayed on the front page
of the New York Post longer than the lurid details of Tiger's downfall.
The Rangers started the tradition where every player, coach and trainer gets the
trophy for at least one day. Since then, players have had their kids baptized in
Stanley's Cup or taken pictures of their babies in it for holiday greeting cards.
Where their imagination goes, so does the Stanley Cup.
The NHL allots 100 days for the winning team to do what they want with the Cup.
And it provides security and a chaperon just in case some derelict out there
has grand plans of hijacking Lord Stanley and using it for a big ransom.
After going dry since 1972, The Boston Bruins are finally drinking out
of the Cup. They are on pace to outdo the Chicago Blackhawks who
paraded it around to every bar, stadium, and hot spot in the city with
broad shoulders. In just over two weeks, the Stanley Cup has been
to Fenway Park, the glistening NESN studios, and a bar where it helped
the rack up a tab of more than $150,000.
At 35 inches tall and almost 35lbs, the Stanley Cup is sturdy enough
to handle the wear and tear that goes with the miles of travel and the millions
of touches. It is like a golden retriever, tough but friendly, big and durable,
and approachable enough where you can kiss and caress it.
The Stanley Cup. Quite simply the coolest trophy in sports.