Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals 2004: 11
The Stanley Cup Journal

The Lightning scouting staff feasted with the Stanley Cup on the night before the NHL Draft.
If you recall ABC's 'Wide World of Sports,' a Saturday afternoon television program, each show began with exciting music and visuals, and a voiceover that proclaimed that the greatest attribute of sports was that it provided 'the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.'

The NHL Entry Draft is much the same. For some young men, it's the realization of a lifelong dream — playing professional hockey with the rigors and benefits that come with it. For others, though, it's the heartbreak of hoping beyond hope that they'll hear their name over the p.a. system married to an NHL franchise.

The Stanley Cup was flown into Raleigh-Durham International Airport Friday, June 25 for the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, hosted admirably this year by the Carolina Hurricanes. Tampa Bay's general manager Jay Feaster hosted a dinner for Lightning scouts in his suite as they discussed last minute strategies for Saturday's draft.

Flyer great Bill Barber is now Tampa Bay's Director of Player Personnel, and plays a substantial role in the Entry Draft. Bill won the Stanley Cup on two occasions with Philadelphia, and gave those in the room some perspective. "Winning the Stanley Cup is a dream come true," he smiled. "Your first dream is to make it in the National Hockey League and the ultimate dream is to win a championship and get your name on the Stanley Cup. To skate around with the Cup in your hand, and then do it two years in a row (1974 and '75) and take a run at a third year makes you a better person. It's not just given to you — there's a commitment made here and a sacrifice family-wise." Barber remembers winning the Cup for the first time in 1974. "I think the Stanley Cup was only in Philadelphia for four days or something. I remember the parade, a party and some photos and I only wish they allowed players to take the Cup for a day like they do now. I think that's a great innovation for the NHL."

Afterwards, Ryan Belec, the assistant to Jay Feaster, escorted the Stanley Cup to a couple of local bars, much to the delight of their patrons.

Fans from all over the world stood in line for 45 minutes to see the Stanley Cup during the 2004 NHL Entry Draft which took place this year in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Strapping young men seated beside moms and dads, brothers and sisters, girlfriends and school friends fidgeted uncomfortably in their seats Saturday, June 26, waiting for the Entry Draft to commence. Out in the concourse level, all of the NHL's seventeen merit trophies were displayed along with the Stanley Cup — the Hart Trophy for most valuable player during the regular season, the Conn Smythe for playoff MVP, etc. The turn-out was phenomenal, with season ticket holders, special guests, fans and team personnel lining up between forty-five minutes and an hour to view the Stanley Cup. At noon, the police escorted the Cup into the RBC Center to signal the beginning of the afternoon's events.

After the first round had been completed, the Cup was returned to the concourse so fans could once again get photographs taken. Tampa Bay brought their newly drafted prospects over to see the Stanley Cup that the franchise had so recently battled to collect.

Besides the Stanley Cup, each of the NHL's merit trophies was on display during the draft, including the hardware collected by the Tampa Bay Lightning: the Prince of Wales won by the team as Eastern Conference champions; the Art Ross, Hart and Pearson awards won by Martin St. Louis; the Lady Byng and Conn Smythe trophies Brad Richards won; and the Jack Adams Trophy which was claimed by John Tortorella.
Just past six, the Stanley Cup was taken to the Angus Barn, a huge steakhouse midway between Raleigh and Durham. Every single night of the week, the Angus Barn serves more than 600 steaks. All agreed it was exceptional. "Y'all must try a slice of our famous Chocolate Chess Pie," tempted the server. Several did, and agreed it was about the best pie they had ever tasted.

What started as an intimate party for the Tampa Bay Lightning employees evolved into a full-blown party for the entire restaurant. While dinner was being served, champagne was being chilled and after the last morsels of pie were being finished, the Angus Barn owners, restaurant staff and guests got to sip championship champagne from the bowl of Lord Stanley's mug.

The Tampa Bay Lightning really take care of their employees, and the scouts were ecstatic to learn at that point that they too will have a chance to celebrate with the Stanley Cup, just like the players.

Monday, the Stanley Cup Journal celebrates the launch of 'Tampa Bay Lightning — 2003-2004 Stanley Cup Champions,' the video chronicle of the Lightning's extraordinary championship season. Y'all come back now, y'hear?

Kevin Shea is the Manager of Special Projects and Publishing at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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