Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals 2004: 19
The Stanley Cup Journal

Two of Cory Stillman's children, Riley and Madison, start the morning with a bowl-full of Fruit Loops.
Like any Stanley Cup winner — like every Stanley Cup winner — Cory Stillman could barely wait for the arrival of the date circled on his calendar — Thursday, July 15. The Lightning's winger had played nine NHL seasons prior to 2003-04, performed admirably, but never come close to being part of a Stanley Cup championship. After the Tampa Bay victory early in June, Cory had realized his boyhood dream — he'd be recipient of twenty-four hours with the most cherished award in sport — the Stanley Cup.

Cory could scarcely believe he'd be taking hockey's glorious prize home to Peterborough, his birthplace and the Ontario city he still calls home. He and his wife Mara and children Riley, Madison and Chase had devised a lot of plans for Lord Stanley's Cup.

And then the rain started. And it fell, and it fell. The torrential showers continued to pour so feverishly that storm drains overflowed, Jackson Creek rose well above its banks and businesses and homes were flooded. Peterborough streets became flowing rivers. The accumulation of precipitation was substantial, and was blamed on a peculiar weather system that began on the West Coast and was making its way east across Canada. Except, only the Peterborough area experienced the storm at that magnitude.

Mara and Cory Stillman, with kids Madison and Riley (little Chase couldn't be pulled away from the chicken fingers) pose with the Stanley Cup at Leapin' Lizards, a restaurant not far from their cottage.
The city was tossed into chaos. Commuters trying to head into the core of the city were re-routed, and then sent home. Local police insisted that residents not venture into the streets and were implored to stay home. A state of emergency was declared in Peterborough by Mayor Sylvia Sutherland in tandem with Police Chief Terrence McLaren.

And Cory Stillman was standing there with the Stanley Cup.

Cory had planned on bringing the Stanley Cup to Memorial Gardens in Peterborough, where it would be displayed for local residents to experience. "Should we go," Cory asked. At first, he was told to wait until 1PM, but when police asked locals to stay out of the downtown core, the opportunity was cancelled. Employees of Memorial Gardens had things put into perspective when they saw a canoeist paddle past the front door of the arena. Had he been gathering pairs of animals, they'd have been much less entertained.

Cory Stillman went into a contingency mode, and made plans to take the Stanley Cup instead to his cottage on Lake Catchacoma in the Kawartha region north of Peterborough. Strangely, the torrential downpour didn't affect this area about thirty or so miles from the city. "We've got some time now," Stillman laughed, but made the best of the situation by making a number of spontaneous stops at places in the area surrounding his cottage.

Cory and the Cup in Canada's Cottage Country ask, 'What's up, dock?'
First stop — Little Gull Marina. Boaters stopping by were awestruck to see the Stanley Cup as they gassed up. Cory then took the Cup to Catchacoma Landing — another marina in the area. While there, Cory ate lunch at Leapin' Lizards, the restaurant that is part of the marina.

This time one year ago, New Jersey Devils' captain Scott Stevens stopped into both locations with the Stanley Cup. For Stevens and now Stillman, it's a year filled with arenas, then marinas.

Flynn's Shell Station was the next destination for Cory and the Cup. He was not entirely surprised to see Stevens' photo mounted on the wall cradling Lord Stanley's mug. "Hey," Cory kidded, "I want my photo up there. It'll be more recent than that one!"

Revenge can be so sweet, and Cory Stillman was able to get his. During August 2003, Scott Stevens took the stuffing out of Stillman, with whom he works out, by taking the Stanley Cup by Cory's cottage and saying, 'We stopped by to show him the Cup. It'll be the closest he'll get to it for awhile!' A lot can change in a year. The Devils sat idly by this year as Tampa Bay triumphed. Cory dropped by the Stevens' cottage with the Stanley Cup in order to thumb his nose at his colleague. Scott wasn't there, but his brother Geoff, a scout with the Devils, was. The two had a good laugh. "I'll tell Scott you stopped by," snorted Geoff, wearing his Devils' cap. "He'll be (ahem) happy to hear that you (gulp) dropped over."

Cory took the Cup to show his grandmother at Princess Gardens in flooded Peterborough.
Back to the cottage, and Stillman was greeted by 150 people ready to party with the Stanley Cup champion. Among those celebrating with Cory were Larry Stevens (Scott's Dad), former NHL netminder Greg Millen, associate coach Craig Ramsay and Cory's mother-in-law, who was so excited by the proceedings that she insisted on dancing around the Stanley Cup. The event was catered, with beautiful roast beast and smoked salmon served on Cory's massive 2,000 square foot deck. With intermittent showers, the deck was a terrific location because as soon as the drops began to pelt down, the revelers only need to take a few steps closer to the cottage and they were covered and ready to celebrate once again. The party raged on until three that morning.

Cory Stillman had one final visit to make. On Friday morning (July 16), he pulled into the Princess Gardens Retirement Home in Peterborough, located a distance from where most of the flooding had occurred, took the Stanley Cup out of its case and carried it over to show his dear grandmother, who had spent so many early Saturday mornings huddled over a steaming cup of coffee watching her grandson as a developing young hockey player. She was so proud to see her Cory all grown up…and now a Stanley Cup champion.

On Friday, check in with Stanley Cup Journal as the Cup heads to Belarus for the first time, the guest of Nikolai Khabibulin.

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

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