Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 31

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Detroit's assistant equipment manager Chris Scoppetto takes Stanley out for lunch at Pepe's Pizzeria. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
The Cup returned from Russian on Wednesday, August 13, arriving at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport. Chris Scoppetto, Detroit's assistant equipment manager, enjoyed his time with Lord Stanley's mug.

Greeting the trophy at the airport, Chris took the Cup to his parents' house in New Haven, Connecticut. Waiting there were his wife Trekka and his folks, Lou and Marsha. After a visit there, Chris took the Stanley Cup to Pepe's Pizzeria, followed by a visit to Ristorante Luce in Hamden, his favourite spot in the area. There, while the Scoppetto family dined on Arctic char and filet mignon, fans lined up to get a photo with the Stanley Cup.

Chris hoists the Stanley Cup next to the welcome sign for Hamden, Connecticut 'Home of the Sleeping Giant'. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
The next day (August 13), Chris made good on a promise to his young nieces and nephews, and allowed them to eat ice cream out of the Cup. On his way to visit a friend at renowned Quinnipiac University, Chris stopped and had his picture taken with the Cup in front of the sign that welcomes visitors to Hamden, 'Home of the Sleeping Giant.'

When Chris was a kid, he loved going to a drive-in restaurant, so a trip to Greenwoods, now housed in that drive-in's location, took him back to a wonderful place. Of course, anywhere the Stanley Cup shows up is a wonderful place, and the regulars lined up to take photos of the historic Cup.

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Detroit's Director of Hockey Administration Ryan Martin takes turns posing for photos with members of his family.
(Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
That afternoon, Ryan Martin took his turn. Martin, the team's Director of Hockey Administration, lives in historic Simsbury, Connecticut; former home of actresses Jessica Biel and Sigourney Weaver. Ryan pulled his car into the Golf Club of Avon to show his duffer buddies the Stanley Cup. Next up was a visit to Simsbury's world famous International Skating Center of Connecticut, where several world champion figure skaters have trained, including Olympic gold medalists Shizuka Arakawa, Sasha Cohen, Ekaterina Gordeeva and Alexei Yagudin. Fans were allowed to have their pictures taken with the Cup. The evening ended with incredible meals at Ryan's favourite restaurant, Terrazza Italia.

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As the sun came up on Friday, August 15, Ryan's mother was making pancakes in the family's beautiful 1800's farmhouse. It's always difficult to surrender Stanley's Cup, but after pictures were taken around the house, it was Brian Rafalski's turn to celebrate.

Rafalski had twice earlier earned a visit with the Cup -- in 2000 and 2003 while a member of the New Jersey Devils. Although a local Detroit boy (born and raised in Dearborn, a suburb of the Motor City), like previous years, Brian spent time with the glorious hockey trophy in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he and his wife Felicity and their three kids make their summer home.

Brian Rafalski and his wife Felicity join their three sons for a family photo with hockey's ultimate prize. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
Flying from the eastern seaboard to America's heartland meant that the Stanley Cup didn't arrive in Appleton until 11:30 on Friday night. But that still gave Brian time to celebrate with the Cup. Greeted by Rafalski and his buddies, the Stanley Cup was immediately taken to Buffalo Wild Wings, then on to Waupaca for a visit to the Wheelhouse Restaurant. Brian had the Cup's bowl filled with beer and fans got to drink from the trophy. Brian then took the Stanley Cup back to his house, and while he and his friends played poker on the patio, the Cup looked on.

By 10:00 on the morning of Saturday, August 16, the Stanley Cup was on the road to the King Veterans Home, where it was placed in the bingo hall so that the residents and visitors could rekindle some memories by seeing the actual Stanley Cup up close and personal.

After everyone had spent time with the Cup, Brian had an idea. "We've got to go to Cheesie Bob's," he exclaimed. "They've got the best cheese curds. And the squeakier, the better!"

Now, although Wisconsin's state motto is 'Forward,' it could just as easily be 'The Cheese State.' There's not a Packers fan around who hasn't at one time worn a cheesehead, and with dairy farming so prevalent in the state, there are cheeses available everywhere: hard, soft, runny, stinky, old, mild…you name it, you can get it in Wisconsin.

At Cheesie Bob's, they picked up the requisite cheese curds, while some of Rafalski's pals modelled cheeseheads and, yes, cheese bras.

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At Cheesie Bob's, Rafalski tries on his new helmet for the upcoming 2008-09 NHL season. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
Brian decided to surprise a friend at the Keystone Hat Company, by arriving unannounced with the Stanley Cup. Sneaking in through the back door with the big silver trophy, Brian's friend thought his business was being broken into, and it wasn't until Brian revealed himself and the Cup that his buddy's heart rate settled down into a rhythm somewhat close to normal.

Lunch was spent at the Country Inn, where patrons stopped dead in their tracks, leaving their pool and dart games to see the Stanley Cup. Brian had presented an interesting fundraising idea in order to raise money for Tammy McDonald, a local girl battling cancer. "The last time (2003), I did something with the Cup myself, and this time, I decided to change things up a little bit," said Brian. "It's for a good cause, for Tammy and her medical bills, and I hope it helps!"

Brian offered the extraordinary opportunity for a fan with the highest bid to have the Stanley Cup for a half hour. Bill McDonald won the auction, bidding $1,500 to Tammy's cause, and when he won, immediately called all his friends to show up at his house to celebrate with the Stanley Cup. One hundred people showed up at Bill's home, and got the thrill of their lives.

The Cup was then taken to Brian Rafalski's housed for a backyard party. A pig was roasting on a spit as 180 invited guests arrived to celebrate Brian's win with the Wings. While the pork was carved onto beautiful, fresh kaiser rolls, a canoe full of corn was also being roasted. An inflatable castle had the kids all bouncing, while several guests played volleyball by the dock. As dusk turned to darkness, fireworks lit up the Wisconsin sky at 9:30.

At 10:00, a boat picked up about 80 of the guests to take them to the other side of the lake and a stop at the Harbor Bar. Everybody left the boat and partied until 2:30 that morning. Groggy but smiling, Brian stayed up to drive the Stanley Cup to the airport an hour later.

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The Stanley Cup next flew to Calgary to commence a day of celebrating with Brad Stuart, and we'll visit there next in the Stanley Cup Journal.

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

All Photographs are property of the Hockey Hall of Fame or Getty Images and may not be reproduced without prior written consent. For more information regarding use of our photographs please contact us.
 
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