Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 2009, 09

Jordan sharing a moment with the Cup on the dock at his camp in Thunder Bay, ON. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
The Staal family is as close to a contemporary version of the sensational Sutter success as you will find in today's NHL. Jordan is the third eldest of four hockey-mad Staal boys from Thunder Bay. Eric, the oldest, is a fixture at forward with the Carolina Hurricanes, and gave the family its first taste of Stanley Cup success in 2006. Marc mans the blueline for New York's Rangers, and is second in line among the Staals. Youngest brother Jared was drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes in 2008.

Jordan was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins, and debuted in black, gold and white as an 18-year-old in 2006-07. The grizzled veteran, all of 21 now, is at the foundation of the exciting, young Penguins' squad that took the Stanley Cup this year.

On Monday, July 20, Jordan, girlfriend Heather and Jordan's Mom Linda met the Stanley Cup at the Thunder Bay International Airport. Together, they drove Jordan's reward for an extraordinary season to the family home, where a photographer, who covered all of Jordan's time with the Cup, snapped photo after photo.

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Jordan and the Stanley Cup sharing a moment outside the Nor West Arena where he and his brothers played minor hockey.
(Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
On their way to Jordan's camp on Shebandowan Lake, about 45 minutes away from Thunder Bay, they stopped to get a picture beside the sign that announced the hamlet of Stanley. The Cup had been there before — when Eric had the Cup after the Hurricanes' win. "This hamlet has seen the Stanley Cup more than most big cities," Jordan laughed.

Not much further along, the entourage stopped at the Nor-West Arena, which had a relatively new sign that honoured the local boys who had played there, including the Staal brothers.

Jordan's camp is next door to Eric's on the beautiful lake, and one of the features of which he is most proud is a Canadian flag at the end of his dock, something he pointed out on a frequent basis. Pictures were taken on that dock, in the sauna, in a hammock and in Jordan's new boat, which Eric was good enough to test out for him.

Jordan and the Cup looking out over the lake in Thunder Bay, ON. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
On the way back to town, the gang stopped at the Niagara of the North — Kakabeka Falls. The view of the water roaring down into the Kaministiqua River was breathtaking!

Back at home, all the boys were there with their partners, including Eric's wife, who is expecting their first child in September. Henry and Linda, the boys' parents, served nachos as well as Persians, an amazing pastry indigenous to Thunder Bay.

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Jordan brought the Cup to the Thunder
Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.
(Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
After sleeping with the Stanley Cup, Jordan yawned, stretched and poured a bowlful of Frosted Flakes into the Stanley Cup. "Breakfast of champions," he chuckled.

The first stop on that Tuesday morning was the pediatric ward of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. Arriving at 8:30, Jordan took the Cup around to the youngsters, stopping for pictures and autographs as he went. A large crowd of young patients had gathered in wait, and Staal was only to happy to sign hats, shirts or anything else thrust in front of him, smiling as he greeted each patient. For those too ill to join him by the reception desk in the ward, Jordan took the Stanley Cup to them, thrilling them beyond words.

Jordan brought the Cup to his Dad's Sunshine Sod Farms. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
From 10:00 until noon, the Stanley Cup joined Jordan at the Fort William Gardens. Mayor Lynn Peterson greeted the Stanley Cup champion who had furthered Thunder Bay's renown as the birthplace of a number of champions. Jordan replied with words of thanks to his hometown, and then settled in to sign autographs and pose with hockey's historic trophy. Over 2,000 fans got a picture of Jordan and the Cup, and as time was winding down, those who had yet to see the Cup got the opportunity as the Penguins' star walked the Cup through the crowd. "It's amazing," said Staal. "I never expected that many people at all. I guess it's a sign of how much Thunder Bay loves hockey!"

After finishing the public celebration at the Gardens, Jordan and his guests stopped at The Hoito for lunch. Thunder Bay has a large Finnish population, and The Hoito is a Finnish restaurant located on the ground floor of the historic Finnish Labour Temple. "The Hoito has the best pancakes you'll ever eat," Jordan boasted, and you know something? He was right!

Jordan and the Cup along with Major League Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins were guests of honour at the Northwoods League All-Star Game at Port Arthur Stadium. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
We all have heroes, and if listed, they would span the width and breadth of sports, pop culture and politics, medicine, martyrs and more. But there is one name that stops us all in our tracks, and that is Terry Fox. Through 1980, this courageous young man, running in his hop and drag method on a prosthetic leg, ran a route that was to take him from the Atlantic to the Pacific, raising awareness and funding for cancer. Just outside Thunder Bay on August 31, 1980, Terry's 'Marathon of Hope' came to a sudden and tragic halt when his cancer returned, ultimately stealing his life. Jordan visited the Terry Fox Monument, paying tribute to one of his heroes.

At the Thunder Bay Marina, Staal pointed into the distance at 'The Sleeping Giant,' a rock formation that resembles a giant lying on its back. Ojibway legend says that the giant is Nanabijou, who turned to stone when he told the 'white man' the secret location of a local silver mine.

Jared, Eric, Jordan and Marc Staal pose for a photo underneath the sign welcoming you to the Municipality of Oliver Paipoonge. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
"Feel like an ice cream sundae?" asked Jordan. He took the Stanley Cup to Merla-Mae Ice Cream. While three young ladies were dishing up treats at the front, Jordan arrived at the backdoor with the Cup, entering with intent on making a great sundae in the bowl of the Cup. "I don't think our boss would like this," sputtered one of the girls, not understanding the magnitude of the Cup. "You're not really supposed to be doing that!" Jordan replied, "I don't think he will mind when you tell him," and proceeded to make a delicious sundae in the Stanley Cup. On the way out, Jordan left the ladies a nice tip.

Quick stops at the accounting firm of a family friend and at a sports bar called The Penalty Box preceded a visit to Henry Staal's now world famous, 500-acre Sunshine Sod Farm. Jordan walked out into the fields and reclined with the Stanley Cup beside him. Back at the office, a number of Henry's clients were hoping for a glimpse of the Cup, and Jordan made certain they all got their pictures taken with the legacy left behind by Lord Stanley.

The family was getting ready for the Stanley Cup party, and over at one side, Eric and his wife Tanya were filling balloons with helium. "He knocks me out of the Eastern Finals and here I am blowing up balloons for him," laughed Eric.

Jordan arrives with the Cup at his parents home where the celebration continues.
(Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
Port Arthur Stadium is the home of the Thunder Bay Border Cats, but on July 21, it hosted the Northwoods League All-Star Game. The guests of honour were Major League Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, and Jordan Staal with the Stanley Cup. The two athletes rode into the stadium in a convertible, to thunderous applause. For the ceremonial first pitch, Fergie kicked and delivered a strike to Staal. After the anthems, the All-Stars got their pictures with the Stanley Cup. "G'wan, that there's not the real Cup, is it?" asked one ballplayer. Jordan simply smiled. "Yep, it sure is!" he replied.

Back at the celebration at the home of his parents, guests dug into roast beef sandwiches and salads. When Jordan heard the bass pumping from 'I Gotta Feeling' by the Black-Eyed Peas, he shouted, "Hey, that's our song," and started his Stanley Cup celebration dance.

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Matt Cooke and Mike Zigomanis share their days with the Cup with us on Friday, so be sure you're back then for the Stanley Cup Journal.

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



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