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

The highlights of Carolina's 2006 playoff run were skillfully compiled and edited for a three-hour video titled 'The Champions,' and launched at an invitation-only party Monday, July 10.

During the release of the DVD 'The Champions,' the Carolina cheerleaders got up close and personal with Lord Stanley's Cup. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
Passes to the event, held at Raleigh's Meymandi Concert Hall in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, were more scarce than goals against Cam Ward during the post-season, so radio and television promotions provided the only opportunities to attend the launch party of 'The Champions.' The video, which incorporated exclusive interviews with players and coaches into the highlights, and added the pivotal Game 7 in its entirety, was produced by Warner Home Video, the National Hockey League and NHL Productions.

At 6PM, one hour prior to the party, a V.I.P. cocktail reception was held at which invitees got the opportunity to mingle with Eric Staal and Erik Cole while nibbling on hors d'ouevres. Both boys signed autographs for the appreciative fans. P At 7, a thousand fans crowded into the hall, focusing intently on the stage. The announcer introduced Erik Cole, who carried the Stanley Cup onto the stage, raising it over his head in triumph as the invited fans wildly roared their approval. Eric Staal then joined his teammate on stage and the cheering extended that much longer.

A 60-minute excerpt from 'The Champions' was screened, enabling the fans to re-live their teams' glorious moments once again. Many purchased the DVD afterwards, leaving with a permanent souvenir of a glorious spring.

The video is being marketed across North America by Warner, who is making certain it is available for fans at their favourite DVD outlet.

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Securing the Cobourg Arena for a hockey game with his long-time pals was an exciting part of Justin Williams' day with the Stanley Cup. But the Hurricanes' forward donned the goal pads and protected the net for his team as the boys competed for the bragging rights associated with the Stanley Cup.
(Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Twenty-four year old Justin Williams just completed his fifth NHL season; his second with Carolina after being traded from the Flyers. On Wednesday, July 12, the day he earned with the Stanley Cup, the young winger took the trophy to his hometown of Cobourg, Ontario.

Historic Cobourg, a town of 18,000, is midway between Toronto and Kingston, Ontario, but was the centre of the universe for the Williams family. The Stanley Cup arrived at the home of Justin's parents, Craig and Denise Williams on Wednesday morning. "I can't believe we're having coffee with the Stanley Cup in our home," said Denise, shaking her head in astonishment.

Justin and his Dad took the trophy to the Lakeland Group, where Craig works, to show his colleagues. The company is used to awards — they won Cobourg's Manufacturing Business of the Year in 2005, but having the Stanley Cup in the house was another thing altogether.

After an hour, Justin took the Cup to the Cobourg Arena. He pulled on his ball hockey equipment for a three-game tournament with childhood friends, neighbours and former junior teammates, including his pal Jim Ramsay, who was part of the Plymouth Whalers for two seasons along with Williams.

Astonishingly, the Stanley Cup winger plays goal in ball hockey, and was struggling a little in the early going. "Pick it up, you sieve," yelled Ramsay. "Oh yeah. Rammer," laughed Justin. "I've had pork chops that're tougher than you!" The two friends laughed as the ball banged into the corner of the rink.

After losing the first game, Justin's squad won the second game. The third contest was tighter than a mouse's ear, but ended in a thrilling 10-9 loss for the Hurricanes' forward. "Damn (or a word similar to it)," barked Justin. The winning team got to crowd around the Stanley Cup for a souvenir photo, just like Hurricanes did a couple of weeks back.

Justin's team lost the best-of-three tournament by a single goal. Here, he poses with the winning team and their reward -- Lord Stanley's chalice. The afternoon took all the participants back to some cherished childhood memories. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Justin took the Cup back to his parents' home, then jumped into the shower before embarking on the next phase of his day with Lord Stanley's legacy. Williams, who scored an empty net goal in Game 7 that proved to be the insurance marker for the 'Canes, was hosting a golf tournament with proceeds assisting Northumberland Hospital. The one o'clock shotgun start was in jeopardy as the rain continued to pour on the golf course. NHL stars Jonathan Cheechoo, Simon Gagne and Keith Primeau were set to join Justin on the links, as were retired greats Craig Ramsay and Jim McKenny.

Fans lined up for hours to see the Stanley Cup, which was protected under a tent on the course. Although golf was officially cancelled at 3:30, the participants retired to the 19th Hole, sitting around and swapping stories.

A dinner of chicken and steak was served, and no one seemed to mind that they didn't get a round of golf in. Emcee Jim McKenny, a high-flying (at times, literally) defenseman with Toronto in the 1960's, was funny as hell as he hosted the tourney.

A full-sized city bus took Williams and his friends to a night of clubbing in the Entertainment District of downtown Toronto. On the trip from Cobourg, Justin and his friends enjoyed sips from the bowl of the Stanley Cup. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
After the event, Justin and four or five friends boarded a full-size bus that took them to downtown Toronto. "I have never had so few passengers on a bus this size," laughed the driver. "Of course, I've never had the Stanley Cup on my bus, either!"

The bus pulled up in front of Lot 332, a huge club at 332 Richmond Street in Toronto's Entertainment District. The gang grabbed the Cup and enjoyed a night of house music and a lot of attention as they partied into the wee hours of the morning. The adventure ended at 3:45 AM, with Justin and his friends retiring at the Westin Hotel while the Stanley Cup was polished, packed and prepared for its next assignment.

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Friday, the Stanley Cup Journal spends a couple of days with Glen Wesley. Make a note to join us then!

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Kevin Shea writes the Stanley Cup Journal every Tuesday and Friday through the summer of 2006.
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