After a pleasant visit of several hours with Maureen Nyeholt, the executive assistant to Executive Vice President and General Manager, Brian Burke, the Stanley Cup readied itself for a day with Chris Pronger. Late on Friday evening, July 20, a party at The Cannery in Newport Beach, California was in full-flight when Chris Pronger glanced up and saw the trophy being carried in. Although not the designated look-out, Chris was most anxious to welcome the Cup. "Here it is, boys!" he shouted, and at 11PM, the revelry stopped dead for an instant as the breathtakingly beautiful Stanley Cup arrived at the party.
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The celebrants stayed for awhile, toasting the Anaheim Ducks victory, before pouring into a bus that took them to Muldoon's Irish Pub. Although a special area near the bar had been cordoned off for the Stanley Cup and its pals, few in the bar paid any attention to the rope and clambered over to look, touch and get photographed with the Stanley Cup, much to the annoyance of Pronger.
Later that night, the Stanley Cup returned with Chris to his home in the exclusive Shady Canyon area of Irvine, one of Orange County's most beautiful areas. Chris and his wife Lauren have two boys Jack and George. Chris's parents, Jim and Elsa, were also in to enjoy Chris's California day with Lord Stanley's legacy.
On Saturday morning, July 21, while Jack and George ate their cereal out of the Cup, Elsa was preparing her special breakfast of Finnish pancakes. Of all the wonderful memories of his childhood in Dryden, Ontario, few rival his Mom's special 'pannukakku.'
|Chris Pronger's two sons George (left) and Jack (right) enjoy scooping cereal out of the bowl of the Stanley Cup. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
Finnish pancakes are a tradition in northern Ontario, where pockets of immigrants from Finland arrived and settled as early as a century ago. 'Pannukakku, or Finnish pancakes, are thinner than most traditional pancakes, almost like crepes, which only meant that Chris and his brother Sean could eat that many more. No wonder they grew so tall!
Although Elsa won't surrender her cherished, closely-guarded recipe, we peeked over her shoulder as she prepared the special breakfast treat. Here now, as a courtesy to readers of Stanley Cup Journal, is the close approximation of Elsa Pronger's secret recipe for 'pannukakku.'
- 3 eggs (chicken, not duck)
- 1 cup of milk
- 1/4 cup of flour
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- jam (optional)
- syrup (optional)
- powdered sugar (optional)
- beat eggs in bowl until fluffy
- add the milk, flour, sugar and salt, beating continuously
- the mixture should now have the consistency of THICK cream
- pour into two buttered 8-inch round cake pans lined with wax paper
- the batter should be only about 1/3" deep
- bake in oven at 425 degrees (225 C.) for 15 to 20 minutes
- turn onto a serving dish and peel the paper off
- serve hot with jam, syrup, or sprinkled sugar
- also taste great with fresh cut strawberries drizzled with maple syrup
And there you go. Mmmmmm! Fresh from the Pronger kitchen to you!
|Chris Pronger, his two boys, and his wife pose for photos with the Cup prior to their celebratory party in the family's backyard. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
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While Chris and the family gobbled Elsa's 'pannukakku,' the media covered the Stanley Cup's presence at the Pronger home.
By 11 on that Saturday morning, Chris was at the Shady Canyon Golf Course with the Stanley Cup. The trophy was placed by the swimming pool for the three hour-duration of the visit, and golfers got to come by and examine the Cup, most also snapping a picture.
A monstrous but private house party was scheduled for six o'clock that evening. Invitees began arriving dressed in their best casual attire, and valet parking took care of their cars. As guests approached the Pronger home, they were greeted by the sight of votive candles surrounding the pool, making the light on the water dance. The Stanley Cup was on display in the living room, and guests had a professional photograph taken with the Cup as they proceeded into the Pronger party.
An array of food was laid out for guests, who included Chris's brother Sean (a former Duck himself) as well as teammates Sean O'Donnell and George Parros, who noshed on salads, grilled salmon, chicken, steak and pork sandwiches. As folks ate, Chris stepped forward. "Hey everybody! Thanks a million for joining us for our Stanley Cup celebration. We're going to have some fun tonight!! No doubt! We have a special guest with us here tonight. Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for my good friend Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray!"
|Pronger takes a moment to kick back and relax with the Stanley Cup in his sight.
"Hey, before I do our new song, 'Into Yesterday,' I want to insist that I first get to drink out of the Cup," joked the amiable McGrath. "Yeah, cranberry and vodka out of the Stanley Cup! That's what I'm talkin' about!!"
Chris then revealed a secret to his guests. "I knew it was a special day today when I woke up with the Stanley Cup in my bed. Then, Lauren reminded me that today was our sixth anniversary! Wooohooooooo!" The men clapped and hooted while the women booed in jest.
The guests mingled about, chatting and laughing. Then, Chris announced, "Hey everybody, it's time to move down to Club Pronger!!!" Chris had cleared out the family's large garage, and a deejay, booming sound system and light show had turned the garage into a pulsating, vibrating dance club, serving wings, ribs and assorted beverages.
The party was in full bloom when the police arrived at 2AM. "Good morning, Mr. Pronger. Look, we know you're having a good time and we want you to have a good time, but we're responding to a noise complaint from a residence a quarter-mile away! You'll have to bring the volume down or we'll have to shut you down."
|A local Police Officer poses for a quick photo with the Ducks' star defenseman and the Stanley Cup. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
Chris just looked, never for one moment losing his grin. "Aw, come on, officers. The police have arrived during ALL my parties! Come on, get your picture taken with the Stanley Cup! Cops with the Cup. Woohoooo!!"
With the block-rocking beats still pounding, although slightly muted, the representatives of the local constabulary had their photos taken beside the Stanley Cup.
It may only have been a coincidence, but the party began to wind down shortly after the visit from the police. Chris said good night to his guests, hoisted the Stanley Cup one final time and warned, "If anybody wakes me in the next twelve hours, they're going to be very sorry!" With that, Chris Pronger disappeared into the darkness.
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When next we meet up, the Stanley Cup Journal will be visiting Chris Kunitz and
Ryan Getzlaf in Regina, Saskatchewan. Now if anybody wakes me up in the next?..
Kevin Shea is one of the contributors to 'Travels With Stanley' by The Keepers of the Cup, a book of geography and history lessons taught through the travels of the Stanley Cup (Fenn Publishing).
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