Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 07
The Stanley Cup Journal

It depends who you ask as to what was more beautiful -- the whitewater rapids of Elk Falls or the Stanley Cup. Rod Brind'Amour, ironically, chooses both. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
One of the enduring practices that makes the Stanley Cup so revered is the concept of awarding the Stanley Cup to each member of the winning team for a period of approximately twenty-four hours. To be honoured with the opportunity to celebrate with hockey's historic Stanley Cup, donated to hockey in 1893 by Canadian Governor General Lord Frederick Arthur Stanley, is a precedent that sets hockey championships apart from those of all other major sports.

The practice of sharing the Cup with members of the championship team began in 1995 with the New Jersey Devils. Prior to that, the celebration was a team affair and seldom did individuals get the opportunity to share their victory with family and friends. Going back several decades, team members often didn't even get to cradle the Cup. More often than not, the Cup was placed on a table at centre ice, the league president presented the trophy to the team captain who accepted it, then placed it back on the table or carried it to the dressing room. After an official team portrait, in uniform with the Stanley Cup the next morning, most team members never got the chance to see Lord Stanley's mug again, let alone examine their names engraved in the silver patina of the Cup's barrel.

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This summer, the Stanley Cup will again log thousands of travel miles. As plans are being finalized, it appears the Cup will travel to three Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario), seven states (North Carolina, North Dakota, Michigan, Maine, Missouri, New York and Minnesota) as well as to the Czech Republic, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and the Ukraine.

Every Hurricane player can celebrate in the way he best sees fit, but you know that every celebration, no matter how public or private, will include a drink (or two) out of the bowl of the Stanley Cup.

Hall of Famer Red Kelly laughs every time he witnesses this time-honoured tradition take place. "In the last game (of the Stanley Cup final), I had my knee frozen and I passed out in the shower," began Red. "They took me to the hospital on a stretcher. Mr. Pearson (the Canadian Prime Minister) was at the game and he came into the dressing room and I didn't even get to see him. I was on crutches and didn't get to be part of any of the celebration. (Leaf owner) Harold Ballard brought the Cup and a couple bottles of champagne and a photographer out to my house and they took a picture of my family around the Cup. I put my newborn son Conn (named after former Leaf owner, Conn Smythe) in the Cup and they took a picture. And the look on Conn's face -- he did the whole load in the Cup! Our family always chuckles when they see guys drinking the champagne out of the Cup."

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In an area of Elk Falls, not far from Campbell River, BC, Rod reflected back on childhood memories splashing around in the refreshing water chiselled into the local rock. A chiselled Brind'Amour holds the Stanley Cup. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Although born in Ottawa, Ontario, Rod Brind'Amour considers Campbell River, British Columbia his hometown, as he lived there from the age of two. After first winning the Stanley Cup and then being awarded the Selke Trophy at the 2006 NHL Awards, Brind'Amour was excited about returning home to Campbell River.

Located on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, Campbell River is called the 'Salmon Capital of Canada' for good reason. Like Brind'Amour, thousands of hearty fish return home every summer. In the captain's case, it's to bond. For the salmon, it's to spawn.

The Stanley Cup was flown from Vancouver over the Georgia Strait to Campbell River, arriving at noon on Sunday, June 25. It was met there by two of the many people who worked on the Rod Brind'Amour Cystic Fibrosis Golf Classic, which had taken place the day before. They took the Cup to the hotel where Rod and teammate Mike Commodore were waiting. After a short visit with family and friends, the Hurricane workhorses were front and centre in a celebratory parade through the centre of Campbell River. Almost 6,000 residents lined Shoppers Row and cheered wildly as Brind'Amour and Commodore, with the Stanley Cup riding shotgun, waved to the crowd from an open convertible, leading the parade through town.

The parade concluded at the Tyree Plaza, where acting mayor Roy Grant welcomed Campbell River's favourite citizen and announced, much to the astonishment of the 'Canes' captain, that a street was to be named in his honour! Brind'Amour Road will be found in a newly-constructed subdivision, at the corners of Jubilee Parkway and Highway 19A. No one runs over Rod on the ice, so this will be the only way anyone will be able to make that claim.

Rod, Mike Commodore and the Stanley Cup went back to the Brind'Amour family home where Rod's father Bob, mother Linda and brother Michel, a Toronto police officer, waited with great anticipation. Good food was spread out waiting for the return of the conquering heroes.

Carolina teammates Mike Commodore (left) and Rod Brind'Amour cradle hockey's most cherished trophy above the waters near Rod's hometown of Campbell River, located on the east side of Vancouver Island. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Rod then took the Stanley Cup to nearby Elk Falls, an extraordinary Provincial Park with a stunning waterfall and rapids seemingly carved out of the middle of a rough-hewn forest. Rod and his friends had hoped to wade in the river, but there was a nearby emergency that necessitated that no one enter the water in that area.

Returning home, the Brind'Amours served dinner. Every time someone called out, 'Hey Mike,' four guys answered -- Mike Commodore, Rod's friend Mike from Philadelphia, another pal named Mike from North Carolina and the keeper of the Cup, Mike Bolt. Bob and Linda Brind'Amour had prepared a beautiful barbecue (Rod's Dad called it a 'Bob-ecue') of fresh salmon and pork chops.

On Monday (June 26), Rod decided to take his buddies fishing. Although they left the Stanley Cup behind at the family home, Rod and the boys drowned a few worms…and that was about all, although 'Philadelphia Mike' swore he had one that got away. Bob Brind'Amour drove the Cup to meet the boys, and then proceeded back up to Elk Falls, which by then, had re-opened. Amidst the stunning rustic scenery, Rod, Mike Commodore and the Stanley Cup waded out into the river for photos, although Brind'Amour ensured that the trophy never touched the water's surface. It was a refreshing afternoon, both with the swirling, crystal clear water flowing around the athletes and refreshing to see the strain erased from the faces and shoulders of the Hurricane stars. "Man, this is the same place we used to swim before I went away to play hockey," smiled Brind'Amour. At that point, Mike Commodore headed to the hotel while Rod and his family returned home. Friends of Rod's parents were there waiting to say hello to Bob and Linda's kid, and to see the Stanley Cup. After photos, all enjoyed another barbecue. At 7PM, the Stanley Cup was packed up and flown back to Vancouver.

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On Tuesday, the Stanley Cup takes Carolina's Cam Ward and Eric Staal for a tour of New York City, and you'll bite into the Big Apple right here with the 'Stanley Cup Journal.'

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Kevin Shea is the Editor, Publications and On-Line Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame. His book, 'Lord Stanley-The Man Behind the Cup,' will be published in October 2006 by Fenn Publishing.
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