Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 2010, 22

Cristobal Huet with the Stanley Cup in France for the first time at la Bastille in Grenoble
Cristobal Huet with the Stanley Cup in France for the first time at la Bastille in Grenoble. (Catherine Steenkeste)
Bonjour, mes amis. Bienvenue a l'Histoire de la Coupe Stanley!

The Stanley Cup has traversed the globe. It has more miles on it than Sir Richard Branson. And yet, as astonishing as it seems, the Stanley Cup has never visited France. That is, until Sunday, August 8.

The Stanley Cup left Trencin, Slovakia early that morning, and was driven to Vienna. A flight then took Lord Stanley's legacy to gorgeous Geneva, Switzerland, where it was met by Cristobal's mother-in-law and her friend. From there, the Cup witnessed the extraordinary scenery of being driven through the Alps on its way to Grenoble, France, Cristobal's hometown.

The car wound its way through the French Alps and arrived at the top of a mountain, where Cristobal and his Swiss-born wife were waiting. Huet's smile said it all as he lifted the Cup and thrust it far into the air in triumph; a most impressive sight with the snow-capped mountains providing a backdrop.

Cristobal Huet and the Stanley Cup pose for a picture with members of his family and friends in Grenoble
Cristobal Huet and the Stanley Cup pose for a picture with members of his family and friends in Grenoble.
(Catherine Steenkeste)
The Huets took the Stanley Cup on a cable car into Grenoble, a breath-taking city in south-eastern France located at the foot of the French Alps where the Drac River meets the Isere. Until August 8, Grenoble was likely best-remembered as the site of the Winter Olympics in 1968. The Stanley Cup changed all that!

In the town, family and friends from around the world were waiting for the Stanley Cup's arrival with the victorious netminder. There was a happy mix of people from France with friends from Chicago, Montreal and Los Angeles. The group took the Cup to Musee Dauphinois, a museum housed in a 17th century convent that boasts a sensational rose garden. Memorable photos were taken with all of those in attendance.

Cristobal Huet and the Stanley Cup visited the sick children of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire of Grenoble
Cristobal Huet and the Stanley Cup visited the sick children of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire of Grenoble. (Catherine Steenkeste)
Cristobal's wife, along with members of the French Ice Hockey Federation, did a masterful job of creating an itinerary that was uber-efficient yet highly entertaining. In fact, a binder, with a minute-by-minute agenda, had been prepared for Stanley's arrival.

A bus awaited Cristobal and the Cup, and sped off to the first of its many destinations. Lunch was served en route (how's that for French vocabulary?), and arrived at the arena where Huet played in his youth. While the rink is no longer in use, it still plays a prominent role in Cristobal's hockey journey. And then, up next, they drove to the arena that replaced it. There, a public reception took place, and Cristobal was overcome with emotion as he watched a banner reading: 'Cristobal Huet, Stanley Cup champion,' raised to the rafters. More than 4,000 fans showed up to honour Cristobal, and he stood on the ice and met every one, smiling for pictures and signing autographs. Also joining Huet were teammates from his past, including former star Philippe Bozon, the only other NHL player to come from France. Team photos were taken with the Stanley Cup, as well as individual souvenirs for Cristobal's hockey friends.

Cristobal Huet shows off the Stanley Cup to his fans in Grenoble at the ice rink Pole Sud during a ceremony. (Catherine Steenkeste)
Arriving at Grenoble's town square, Huet was greeted by a reception that included bands and a full-on celebration. While many celebrities, including film-maker Jean-Luc Godard, have originated from Grenoble, only Cristobal Huet has been able to bring the legendary Stanley Cup home.

The evening concluded in an awesome mountain resort, where Cristobal had rented every room to house his family and friends. The entourage feasted on a luxury buffet, and just before midnight, an incredible fireworks display began; breathtaking with the mountains providing a scenic background.

It was a short night, as at 3:00AM, a private plane took Cristobal, his wife and a handful of guests to Paris! Passengers gazed in awe at the scenery as the plane lifted itself over the mountain peaks. Breakfast was served to weary but excited guests.

Cristobal Huet and the Stanley Cup spent some time signing autographs  for fans at Grenoble's town square
Cristobal Huet and the Stanley Cup spent some time signing autographs for fans at Grenoble's town square.
(Catherine Steenkeste)
Landing in Paris, a bus awaited, ready to take the party on a tour of the city. And no visit to Paris is complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower. The bus driver knew the perfect vantage point for photos — a spot some two miles away that offered an impeccable view of the tower in all its magnificent glory. But two miles away simply wasn't the end of the visit to the Eiffel Tower visit. In fact, a tour of the Tower followed.

Funny enough, the Eiffel Tower really shouldn't exist today. The iron lattice tower was built in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel as the entrance arch to the World's Fair in Paris that year. Its builder possessed a permit for his tower to stand for twenty years, at which time, it would be dismantled. In fact, the design was the winner of a contest, and the rules stated that the structure must be designed so it could be easily demolished. And although the Tower was greeted with derision at the time of its construction, residents gradually warmed to the unique structure and it was allowed to remain erect. Today, at 1,063 feet (324 metres), it is an iconic symbol known worldwide and is the most-visited paid monument in the world.

Cristobal Huet and the Stanley Cup posing for a picture in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
Cristobal Huet and the Stanley Cup posing for a picture in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
(Catherine Steenkeste)
The Eiffel Tower opens to the public each day at 9:30, but the Stanley Cup received special permission to visit an hour earlier. From its observation deck, the Tower provided an extraordinary panoramic view of the city. But as Cristobal and the Cup descended, the tower was opening for tourists, and these visitors, coming from all parts of the world, easily recognized hockey's iconic trophy at the iconic Parisian landmark. As Huet exited, there was already a two-and-a-half hour line-up to get into the Eiffel Tower, which greets 30,000 guests every day. Many in line, coincidentally, were wearing hockey jerseys, and excitedly called out to Huet and snapped photos of the trophy and its holder. Cristobal happily posed with fans and had his picture taken with the Stanley Cup. A herd of fans surrounded him at the base of the Eiffel Tower, and had the Cup not had to make a hasty retreat in order to fly to Sweden, Cristobal would likely STILL be there now!

As Huet and the Cup were courteously led away, the fans graciously said goodbye to the Stanley Cup along with Cristobal. "There is nothing I have treasured more than being the first player from France to bring the Stanley Cup to my homeland," he said with enormous pride.

Cristobal Huet posing for a picture at the top of the Eiffel Tower with his wife Corine and one of his son's Ewan in Paris
Cristobal Huet posing for a picture at the top of the Eiffel Tower with his wife Corine and one of his son's Ewan in Paris. (Catherine Steenkeste)
With a hockey resume that took him from les Bruleurs de Loups to the Los Angeles Kings, the Montreal Canadiens, the Washington Capitals and, of course, the Chicago Blackhawks, it appears that Cristobal will spend the 2010-11 season on loan to HC Fribourg of the Swiss league, not far from Grenoble and the country of birth of Cristobal's wife. But don't think it's au revoir to dreams of the Stanley Cup — you just know that Cristobal Huet would love nothing more than to bring la Coupe Stanley back home once again.

* * *

The Stanley Cup is packed and ready to visit Sweden this time, and you'll discover how Niklas Hjalmarsson celebrated in Tuesday's Stanley Cup Journal.

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



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