Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 32

The Detroit Red Wings' Todd McLellan joins a representitive from KidSport and the Mayor of Saskatoon Don Atchison for a photo with the Stanley Cup.
Todd McLellan (left) joins a representitive from KidSport (centre) and the Mayor of Saskatoon Don Atchison (right) for a photo with Stanley. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
At one time, during the golden Original Six era, NHL president Clarence Campbell actually circulated and enforced a non-fraternization rule. Players from opposing teams were threatened with a fine should they so much as say 'hello' to an opponent. It became ingrained that anyone, in or out of uniform and playing on a different team, was the enemy. You hated them on the ice; you hated them off the ice.

The hatred ran deep. In the decades of train travel for hockey teams, there were often home-and-home games, and the teams would frequently ride the same train. But one team would have one car and the other, another ... and never the twain shall meet (if you'll excuse the pun). Players would decline meals if it meant passing through the other team's cabin on the way to the dining car.

There is a classic story that best illustrates non-fraternization. While playing with the Montreal Canadiens, tough guy John Ferguson would literally cross to the other side of a street rather than pass by an opponent. He not only admitted it, he embraced it. Now, with players frequently changing teams, involved in charity golf tournaments and represented by the same agent, the non-fraternization rule has long been erased, and players are quite friendly, often best friends, with players on other teams.

The hockey family is now a tight knit fraternity, and as evidence, we offer the Stanley Cup story of Todd McLellan.

During 2007-08, Todd spent his third season as assistant coach of the Detroit Red Wings, working with head coach Mike Babcock and Paul MacLean, also an assistant coach. All three joined the Red Wings in 2005-06. Prior to joining Detroit, McLellan was head coach of the AHL Houston Aeros, and guided them to a Calder Cup championship in 2002-03. Todd also has coached in the IHL and WHL, where he was coach of the year in 1999-2000. As a player, Todd McLellan reached the show, playing 5 games with the New York Islanders in 1987-88.

The Detroit Red Wings' Todd McLellan and members of his family gather around the Stanley Cup for a few photos.
McLellan and members of his family gather around the Stanley Cup for a few photos. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
But with success comes more success and Todd McLellan was hired as head coach of the San Jose Sharks mere days after hoisting the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings. Detroit immediately felt the loss, but could do nothing but wish him well. "From the first moment Doug [Wilson, Sharks GM] called to the moment he offered the job, I felt comfortable," admitted McLellan. "I think the Sharks have done a tremendous job. You don't get that close to 50 wins for a number of years in a row without a lot of talent. It's a matter of getting over the hump. There are some real parallels between the Wings and the Sharks."

In an act of sheer class, the Red Wings made certain their former assistant coach got to revel in the Stanley Cup championship that he, in part, helped the team win. Todd added his fingerprints to Lord Stanley's mug on Monday, August 18.

The Stanley Cup made its entrance into Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, greeted by Todd, his wife Debbie and their boys, Tyson and Cale. Also welcoming hockey's Holy Grail were Matt Shaw, an assistant coach with the Minnesota Wild, and Bart Hunter, a former junior hockey star whose pedigree necessitates mentioning that he is the son of 'Wild Bill' Hunter, the Saskatoon legend who brought the World Hockey Association to Edmonton, and later, tried to wrestle the Blues away from St. Louis and move them to Saskatoon.

Todd took the Stanley Cup to City Hall, where it was put on display and ogled by several hundred Saskatoon hockey fans, who lined up to get pictures of the iconic trophy. Mayor Don Atchison warmly welcomed McLellan and the Stanley Cup, and former NHLer Garry Peters, a member of the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame, joined and looked on. While there, bringing the Stanley Cup to Saskatoon, Todd got a parking ticket. Noting the ticket on his windshield, Todd turned to look for the parking officer. He wasn't far away, and approached the car. But instead of tearing up the parking ticket, as Todd had hoped, the officer asked if he could get a photograph with the Stanley Cup. Todd agreed, but it wasn't the biggest smile ever splashed across his face.

The Stanley Cup on display during a luncheon for the Saskatoon Community Foundation taking place at the Sheraton Cavalier Saskatoon.
Lord Stanley's Mug was front and centre on display during the luncheon taking place at the Sheraton Cavalier Saskatoon. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
A luncheon took place next, held at the Sheraton Cavalier Saskatoon. Guests, including former Red Wings netminder Tim Cheveldae and the Atlanta Thrashers' Colby Armstrong, as well as several of Todd's former coaches, were asked to pay for their lunch, and proceeds were donated to the Saskatoon Community Foundation. 350 folks attended the lunch. During his speech, Todd laughingly mentioned the story of his parking ticket. Mockingly horrified, Mayor Atchison immediately snatched the ticket from McLellan's hand. "I'll take care of that," he said, adding, "Best twenty bucks this city ever spent!"

A unique fundraising angle offered the Stanley Cup during lunch to the table that bid the most money to the Foundation. A winning bid of $1,500 earned an appreciative trable the opportunity to sit in the presence of hockey history, and they utilized every moment of the luncheon for photographs and to study the names already engraved on the veneer of the trophy.

The Stanley Cup was going to be taken to Boston Pizza, and for another $20 charitable donation, guests could reserve a table at the restaurant, joining Todd and the Stanley Cup. Photos with the Cup were given to all of those at Boston Pizza.

Afterwards, the McLellan family took the Stanley Cup to the Saskatoon Zoo and Forestry Farm Park. In a rustic old barn on the site, another reception took place, offering light refreshments until 10:00PM. It appeared that the day was winding down, but Todd stopped dead in his tracks. "Come on, I'd be lame if I let the Stanley Cup go at 10 o'clock!" With that, he took the Cup to a friend's house for yet another celebration; one that turned out to be his last. "Maybe for this year, but you'd better be ready to bring the Cup to San Jose for next year," he smiled. But it was clear…Todd McLellan wasn't kidding!

* * *

Next time around, the Wings' other assistant coach gets a turn with the Cup, and you'll read about Paul MacLean's visit to Antigonish in the next 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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