Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals 2004: 22
The Stanley Cup Journal

Martin Cibak took the Stanley Cup by Hummer to his parents' apartment in Liptovsky Mikulas, and reflected back on his childhood hockey dreams now realized.
Martin Cibak was a late round draft selection of the Lightning in 1998. In fact, defying the odds of making the NHL grade, Cibak was selected 252nd overall, yet has emerged as a valued component in Tampa Bay's on-ice attack in just his second season with the Lightning.

The spectacular rolling countryside and its rural inhabitants provided a terrific backdrop to Cibak and the Stanley Cup.
Martin met up with Pavel Kubina in Prague on Saturday, July 24 and the next morning, with the Stanley Cup belted into his Hummer, made the two and a half hour drive to his hometown of Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia. Located in north-central Slovakia, Liptovsky Mikulas is a town of 32,000, surrounded entirely by mountains. The West, Low and High Tatras wrap themselves around the charming town. The area is well-known for harbouring a number of scenic caves — some accessible to the public and many not open for touring.

The Hummer pulled up in front of his family's apartment, and Martin carefully carried the 34 and a half pound Stanley Cup into the room in which he lived while he was at home. It was a stirring moment for all to see Cibak break into a broad smile, clearly reliving childhood memories and dreams.

Ten thousand stunned onlookers watched a special delivery package opened by Martin Cibak reveal its incredible contents -- the Stanley Cup!
A horse-drawn carriage took Martin and the Stanley Cup through the spectacular rolling hills and fields that comprise much of the area. To his right, Cibak watched horses herding sheep through a field. A traditional polka band oom-pah-pah-ed its way through some melodies at a restaurant that resembled something you might find in the Swiss Alps. While there, Martin ate dumplings out of Lord Stanley's Cup.

After lunch, Cibak took the trophy to Fitness B, the gym where he worked out. On the wall hangs a photograph of Martin with his championship ball hockey team. Then, it was a brief visit to Tatrabandria, a nearby water park.

The residents of Liptovsky Mikulas were in awe -- certainly because of the presence of the Stanley Cup and the local resident who had won it, but almost as much by the sight of a Hummer. In metropolises, the sight of a large vehicle like a Hummer is unusual, but in a historical and largely rural town like Liptovsky Mikulas, seeing a Hummer is as rare as a fifty-goal scorer in today's NHL.

Residents of Liptovsky Mikulas helped Martin Cibak escort the Stanley Cup out of the town's square.
Ten thousand area residents filled the town square to get a glimpse of Martin Cibak and the Stanley Cup. With Martin standing empty-handed on the stage, a yellow postal truck pulled up in front and unloaded a large cardboard box, delivered to Cibak standing on the stage. Onlookers were puzzled as to what was being delivered. Cibak tore open the package and revealed hockey's most precious trophy — the Stanley Cup — much to the enormous amusement and gigantic cheers of the crowd.

After the civic reception, Cibak took the Cup to the arena where he played his junior hockey before crossing the Atlantic to play for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League.

Following the entertaining contest, Cibak was joined by Stan Neckar and Pavel Kubina on the ice along with both teams for a souvenir of a great day in Slovakia.
A charity hockey game took place with some NHL stars facing a strong local team, with Martin's NHL team skating off with an 8-4 victory to the delight of the fans.

After the game, Cibak took the Stanley Cup to a reception at a North American-type bar called Route 66. With the glow of neon beer signs illuminating classic movie photos and pictures of icons like the Rat Pack and the Rolling Stones, Cibak's guests enjoyed coldcuts, breads and cheeses. Martin then took the Cup on a tour of the local establishments, stopping into Café Cocktail, the Ski Club and B Club Senior. There, Pavel Kubina and Stan Neckar joined the celebration. An all-out war ensued, with champagne as the weapon of choice. No one was safe as the bubbly flew in every which direction, and the revelers soaking up every joyous moment as they shut their eyes tight against the sting of the champagne. Drenched, but with a smile as wide as the Danube, at 4AM, Martin Cibak watched the Stanley Cup put to rest in its case, then rode back to the hotel, laughing while seated on the Cup's blue protective case.

Freddy Modin gets the Stanley Cup Journal treatment next, so be sure to join us again on Wednesday.

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

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