Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 04
The Stanley Cup Journal

The Phoenix Coyotes' Alumni Association gathered en masse at the Eagle Mountain Golf Course in Fountain Hills, Arizona for their first annual golf tournament. (Nicole Allison)
The Stanley Cup was loaded onto the plane Saturday morning, destined for Phoenix. The Coyotes' Alumni Golf Tournament was scheduled for Sunday, June 12, and Lord Stanley's mug was the guest of honour.

The temperature was over 100 degrees at Phoenix International Airport as the plane's wheels hit the tarmack. Whew! It was so hot, a flight attendant saw a hydrant thanking a dog!

Saturday evening was spent visiting four local rinks. The ice was still in, and the arid desert air was a marked extreme from the chill of the arenas. Players clambered to touch the Stanley Cup, incredulous that it was there in their midst.

Phoenix is an outstanding city stretching over 500 square miles, and with one-and-a-half million residents, Arizona's capitol is the sixth largest city in the United States. Although history had not regarded Phoenix as a traditional hockey city, it was clear from this visit that passion for hockey was alive and prospering in the area.


Some of the celebrity participants didn't quite comprehend the concept, and reverted to old tried and true ways! (Nicole Allison)
Phoenix joined the National Hockey League when the Winnipeg Jets' franchise was transferred to the Southwestern U.S. city. The Phoenix Coyotes made their debut in a contest against the Whalers in Hartford on October 5, 1996, but their first home game on October 10 had a sold-out America West Arena crowd witness their Coyotes spanking the San Jose Sharks, 4-1. The hockey-mad city hasn't been quite the same since!

In spite of a 6:30am arrival at the sensational Eagle Mountain Golf Course in nearby Fountain Hills, Sunday, June 12 was already a scorcher for the Stanley Cup. The Coyotes' alumni dribbled in for the 8 o'clock shotgun start. Former Coyotes Craig Janney, Jim Johnson and Jocelyn Lemieux were joined by one-time Winnipeg Jets' star Tim Watters, who had previously played in Phoenix with the Roadrunners of the International Hockey League. Cliff Fletcher, the Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Coyotes was there as was Mike Barnett, the team's general manager. Former GM Bobby Smith showed up, too, as did NHL friends Trevor Johansen and Derek King. Charlie Simmer, Phoenix's broadcast analyst, is the executive director of the Coyotes' Alumni Association, and scurried around to make certain all final details were attended to.

Placed on the 10th hole, the Stanley Cup watched NHL stars like Charlie Simmer, Craig Janney and Jocelyn Lemieux enjoy their day with colleagues on the course.
The picturesque golf course is breathtaking, with mountains and valleys married by lush rolling hills and a stunning panorama of the tranquil Sonoran Desert. The Stanley Cup was placed at the 10th hole, and as each foursome waited their turn, they got a photo with the historic trophy.

A friendly banquet followed the round of golf. Warm, enduring applause met the announcement that proceeds from the Coyotes' Alumni Association's first major fundraising event were being donated to the Youth Hockey Association of Arizona and the local Shriners' Hospital. The Phoenix Coyotes' Alumni Association's first annual golf tournament was won by Charlie Simmer, and you can imagine the ribbing taken by the Association's executive director took. Except…he wasn't there. Simmer had snuck out to coach his son's hockey game that evening. It was the championship game for young Jake Simmer and his teammates. Later, the Stanley Cup was taken to the arena just in time to see Jake and his team of eight and nine-year-olds win the championship. The entire team, wearing championship medals around their necks, surrounded the Stanley Cup like they had often seen done by NHLers and had their pictures taken holding up their index fingers and shouting, 'WE'RE NUMBER ONE!'

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The Stanley Cup left Phoenix Monday morning and flew into LAX. Although hot in Los Angeles, it wasn't as scorching as Phoenix had been. Y'know, the white gloves used to carry the Stanley Cup are worn out of respect for hockey's historic trophy, but on blazing days, they can also keep the Cup Keeper's fingers from getting burned.

The Stanley Cup was met at the airport by Vladimir Kulich, a 6'5" Czech actor remembered best as a warrior in Antonio Banderas' 1999 film, 'The Thirteenth Warrior.' It's hard not to notice Kulich, but he's even less conspicuous while accompanying the Stanley Cup through a crowded airport. Vladimir is a friend of former NHL star Ian Turnbull, who was assisting with the organization of the17th annual Dave Taylor Golf Classic.

Kulich and the Cup waved as they motored past Cher's oceanside home on the way to Taylor's tournament in Camarillo, California. They motored for about an hour and a half along the stunning Pacific Coast Highway in order to reach Spanish Hills Golf and Country Club, an extraordinary course that is as memorable for its vista of mountains and ocean as it is for its lush rolling countryside.

Dave Taylor, now Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Los Angeles Kings, joined Los Angeles as a rookie in 1977-78 and now, twenty-eight years later, is still a King. During a stellar 13-season playing career, Taylor earned close to a point a game. His role on the Triple Crown Line with Marcel Dionne and Charlie Simmer (the Stanley Cup's host in Phoenix) was legendary.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is the annual beneficiary of Taylor's benevolence, and each year, thanks to Dave Taylor, receives a cheque in the neighbourhood of $125,000. The golf tournament has become an annual affair and provides not only a sizeable charitable donation but a great day of camaraderie amongst Dave's hockey friends, which on this day, included Jimmy Fox (who also served as emcee), Marty McSorley and Ian Turnbull. The Stanley Cup was placed on the first tee, and as each foursome prepared to begin their round, enjoyed a photo with the Stanley Cup.

A film crew accompanied the Stanley Cup on site. Karl Johnson, a Hollywood director, is putting together a film titled, 'Saving Stanley,' the story of a group of friends trying to recover the Stanley Cup from evil Canadians who stole it. The film is a mockumentary; produced to look like a documentary but not, in fact, factual. 'Best in Show' and 'This is Spinal Tap' are two excellent examples of mockumentaries. The director spent the day getting film footage of celebrities talking about the Stanley Cup and incorporated Cup Keeper Mike Bolt into a starring role (we fear his head will expand to the point of not being able to wear a helmet!)

As the golfing day wound down, the participants relaxed over dinner while the Stanley Cup was prominent on a table in the room. After dinner and coffee, the Cup was taken to a restaurant so fans could leave their mark on the game by touching Lord Stanley's chalice.

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On Tuesday, the Stanley Cup pays tribute to Canadian grassroots hockey. We'll meet again then.

Kevin Shea is the Hockey Hall of Fame's Manager of Publishing and Editorial Services.
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