Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 27
The Stanley Cup Journal

Ray and Brijet Whitney enjoy the scenery with the Stanley Cup during their day-long celebration.(Mike Bolt/HHOF)
The Stanley Cup jetted through the prairie skies early on Saturday, August 19, accompanied by two Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta boys — Ray Whitney and Mike Commodore. The irony, of course is that the Hurricanes made their Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup led, in part, by team members who grew up in the shadow of the team Carolina defeated in the grueling 7-game final. Ray Whitney, Mike Commodore and goaltending hero Cam Ward all grew up around Edmonton and were well-versed in the lore of the Oilers.

For a city of 15,000, Fort Saskatchewan has been the focus of a great deal of attention lately. The hometown of Evangeline Lilly from the TV show 'Lost,' it is also, almost unbelievably, the hometown of two members of the Stanley Cup-winning Hurricanes. Fort Saskatchewan is a historic town located on the Saskatchewan River 15 minutes from Edmonton.

After touching down in Edmonton, Ray Whitney took his turn first with the Stanley Cup. At 9:30, Ray stopped in to visit his grandmother, who lives in a retirement home. She was thrilled to see her grandson achieve such a pinnacle after having watched him as a young boy taking his first wobbly steps on the local ice rinks.

Mike Commodore and Ray Whitney pose in front of the helicopter that took the Stanley Cup to Bear Mountain Golf & Country Club on Vancouver Island. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
A civic presentation was next up. At 11 that morning, almost 3,000 fans crammed into Legacy Park to catch a glimpse of both local heroes and the beautiful trophy they were bringing back to the community. Richard Matvichuk, also a Fort Saskatchewan native, had brought the Stanley Cup home in 1999 after winning with the Dallas Stars. As he was presenting the keys to the city to Whitney and Commodore, Mayor Jim Sheasgreen said, "There are about 700 players fortunate enough to play in the NHL in any one season. These players not only come from Canada, but from the U.S. and spots all around the world. To have two members from the same hometown, OUR hometown, play on the same team and win the Stanley Cup, is simply extraordinary and a reason for this city to be very, very proud!" Minor hockey players crowded the park, and were some of the first in line when Ray and Mike posed for photos between 12:30 and 3:00.

After enjoying a bite to eat, Ray took the Stanley Cup to his home, giving gathered family and friends the chance to drink out of hockey's historic mug. While there, Whitney very proudly showed his guests his new acquisition — a golf green built in his backyard.

A party was held that evening at the Fort Saskatchewan Sportsplex Arena. It was the completion of a full-circle for Ray, who as a toddler was put on the ice at that same arena and, in earnest, taught himself to skate.

Ray didn't miss the opportunity to visit one of his greatest fans -- his grandmother -- who insisted on wearing her autographed Hurricanes t-shirt in time for her grandson's visit. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
For those watching the Stanley Cup celebration on TV when it happened, or for those of you who are party to the YouTube website phenomenon, you may have witnessed an expletive leap unknowingly from Whitney's lips when he was handed the Stanley Cup on the ice at the RBC Center in Raleigh. "Effin' eh, boys," is quickly becoming legendary, and Ray's pals wouldn't let him forget his moment of broadcast notoriety for a single second. Ray's buddies created an unbelievable 'mock-umentary' chronicling his life, teasing him about his height ("forget the National Hockey League, Ray, you should be playing Midget Hockey -- literally!") and finishing, of course, with the fact that when the world's spotlight was directed on him, his now famous line was the most intelligent thing that Ray could come up with. Everyone, including Ray, roared at the great video put together by his friends.

The party concluded late, and the Stanley Cup was taken back to Ray's house.

Early the next morning, Sunday, August 20, a helicopter picked up Ray and the Stanley Cup and flew them to an incredible golf course just west of Victoria, British Columbia, on beautiful Vancouver Island. Owned principally by Len Barrie, a former teammate of Ray's in Florida, investors in Bear Mountain Golf & Country Club include several hockey players, including Ray Whitney, Trevor Kidd, Joe Nieuwendyk, Gary Roberts, Todd Simpson, Ryan Smyth and Mike Vernon. The Calgary Herald wrote, 'As Bear Mountain winds and weaves its way around 18 holes, it offers dramatic elevation changes, challenging golf and incredible views.

The helicopter dropped Ray and the Stanley Cup on the 18th hole, giving him a magnificent panoramic view of the area. He was greeted by his friend, Lenny Barrie, who marveled at the fact the Stanley Cup was there at Bear Mountain. Ray and the Cup stayed for two-and-a-half hours, having pictures taken in front of immensely beautiful mountains before flying back, by helicopter, to Edmonton.

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Mike Commodore was set to enjoy his day, and took the Stanley Cup to Sherwood Park, a suburb of Edmonton and now the home of his parents. Friends and family were waiting in the backyard, all attired in matching cartoon t-shirts that poked fun at Mike's mop of playoff hair, massive red beard and the robe that became his 2006 playoff trademark.

A sea of fans converged on Legacy Park in Fort Saskatchewan, excited about meeting their two local heroes. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
After celebrating at home with his parents Ray and Bridget (who prefer to be known as Gus and Betty - who knew?), Mike climbed into a limo bus with the Stanley Cup and made the trip south towards Calgary. On the way, Commodore stopped into Red Deer and visited with his grandmother, who lives in the city about midway between Edmonton and Calgary.

Mike is no stranger to Stanley Cup celebrations, having been included in parties held by several of his teammates through the summer, and now was hosting his own. At Joey Tomato's Kitchen in the Eau Claire Market, friends guzzled champagne from the bowl of the Cup as Mike poured more into the silver basin. Then, they headed down to The Mynt Ultralounge in the heart of Calgary's downtown core for a celebration that embraced all three floors of the Calgary hotspot.

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The Stanley Cup had a great time in the arms of Ray Whitney and Mike Commodore, and stayed in the Edmonton area for a day with newlywed Conn Smythe winner, Cam Ward. Visit the Stanley Cup Journal on Tuesday and we'll tell you all about it!

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Kevin Shea, along with co-author John Jason Wilson, will have his latest book,
'LORD STANLEY-THE MAN BEHIND THE CUP,' published in October 2006 by Fenn Publishing.
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