With hockey season finally about to resume – it was a looong summer for those of us whose teams were mathematically eliminated in April – it seems apt to do a post on one of the coolest traditions in sports.
Remember how in school some lucky kid got to take the hamster home overnight? The NHL offers the same deal. Over the summer, each player and staff member from the Stanley Cup-winning team gets to take The Cup home. It’s their own business what they do with it. Twenty-four hours: Don’t ask, don’t tell. Of course, telling happens, because it has become customary to do something wacky or meaningful on your Big Cup Day.
The reigning Cup winners are the Washington Capitals, which means this summer an unearthly amount of beer was drunk out of it – mostly by the Caps’ immoderate captain Alex Ovechkin.
But over the years, many have put The Cup to more creative use.
In 2006, Carolina Hurricane Doug Weight prepared a giant ice cream sundae in it for his kids.
Three players have let their dogs drink from it.
In 1994, New York Rangers Centre Ed Olcyzk schlepped it to Belmont Park. There he may or may not have let Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin eat out of it.
Some players have enjoyed more personal moments with the Cup.
In 1996, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Sylvain Lefebvre took it to church and had his daughter christened in it.
In 2002, Red Wings’ captain Steve Yzerman showered with it.
In 2006, Caroline Hurricane Mark Recchi brought it back to his hometown of Kamloops, BC and slept with it.
In 1987, the ever-classy Edmonton Oiler Mark Messier took it to his favorite strip club. In 1998 (this time a Ranger) he dented it, and quietly got it fixed at an auto-body shop.
The 1907 Montreal Wanderers took a team photo with the Cup, but left it in the photographer’s house. His mother planted geraniums in it.
I think this is why so many good Canadian kids want to be hockey players. In the back of their minds they’re brewing an answer to: What would I do on my Big Cup Day. The answer to that question will, just maybe, define the kind of adult they become.