Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals 2004: 10
The Stanley Cup Journal

A huge crowd gathered in the plant at the St. Pete Times on Tuesday, June 22. It was an exciting morning for the employees, as the Stanley Cup was being brought by for observation and photographs. It takes a lot of dedicated employees to ensure that a top quality newspaper is produced every day, and the crew behind the scenes -- on the presses, in the trucks, on the desks - really enjoyed taking a break long enough to see the Stanley Cup won by their hometown team.

In the evening, the Cup was taken over to the home of Ron Campbell, the President of the Tampa Bay Lightning. There was only one problem - Ron was in New York at the NHL's Board of Governors meeting at the time. Ron had arranged to have the Stanley Cup spend the evening with his wife Mary Jane, children Andrea, Holly and R.J. along with friends and neighbours. The trophy was placed on a table in the gazebo near the pool of the Campbells' gorgeous South Tampa home, and as the sun set on the Bay, it provided a magnificent backdrop that silhouetted the Stanley Cup.

The Campbells served hors d'oeuvres and sandwiches and spent the evening talking about Tampa's successful season before the Stanley Cup was bundled into its case and left at 1AM.

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The Moffitt Cancer Center offered patients, employees, friends and families the opportunity to spend some time with a special visitor.
John Cullen had a good, solid season with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1996-97. But towards the tail-end of a 55-point season, Cullen had battled a persistent flu. As a precautionary measure, Cullen visited a doctor who took a battery of tests. John was horrified to find out he didn't have the flu - he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Cancer.

The Lightning forward started treatment, armed with the knowledge that his chance at full recovery was 92%. John underwent radiation and chemotherapy that robbed him of his hair and his strength, but the treatments had a negligible effect and in November 1997, John was forced to undergo a bone marrow transplant to save his life. During the transplant, Cullen's heart stopped for a full minute, but surgeons were able to resuscitate him.

John Cullen not only survived but he made a valiant attempt to return to his chosen career. Dressed in the Lightning black, white and silver for the first time in more than a season, Cullen scored a goal in his first game since returning; an exhibition game in Europe. But after four regular season games, it became apparent to both Cullen and the Lightning that the cancer treatments had stolen his ability to play professional hockey. After a brief stint in the minors, John Cullen retired on November 27, 1999 and accepted a coaching position with the Tampa Bay Lightning. "My goal was to come back and play, to make it back after a bone marrow transplant and all the radiation I had, and I did it," Cullen said on the eve of his retirement. "The greatest thing was just to get back, but more importantly is being healthy."

Even stuffed animals couldn't resist a close view of the Cup.
In the fall of 1998, inspired by Cullen's battle, Timm Harmon, the co-chair of the Moffitt Cancer Center Foundation, approached the Tampa Bay Lightning about a partnership between the team and the world renowned Cancer Center. "Look, I'm not a scientist and I can't find a cure for cancer, but I know how to raise money," said Harmon, a cancer survivor himself. Through his passionate presentation to Lightning executives, Timm found a willing, new partner. "Because of the recent cancer occurrences with the team and their desire to be a responsible part of the Tampa Bay community, they (the Lightning) were quick to agree," Harmon stated. In fact, Ron Campbell, the team president, sits on the Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute Foundation board.

The Moffitt and Lightning tandem spawned another phenomenal partnership — one with the National Hockey League. In December 1998, the NHL adopted cancer as its primary cause, and 'Hockey Fights Cancer' was initiated. To date, more than $6.5 million has been raised to help battle the brutal disease that has touched, in one manner or another, most readers of 'Stanley Cup Journal.'

The Stanley Cup visited the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa on Wednesday, June 23, and was positioned strategically in the main lobby. A massive line-up numbering close to a thousand got the chance to visit the most prized trophy in sports. The Cup touched a lot of people during that two hour window on Wednesday, and we can only hope that efforts proffered by the incredible Moffitt Cancer Center touch an exponential number as they work towards eradicating cancer in our lifetimes.

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It's unlikely you'll find this baby high chair at your neighbourhood store.
Tampa General Hospital was the next destination for the Stanley Cup. It sat in the cafeteria of the hospital so patients, guests and medical staff could enjoy a look at the Lightning's hard-earned hockey reward. But then, the Cup took an unexpected side trip. Dr. Fadi Matar was in the midst of a cardiac catechization, and the Stanley Cup was moved into an observation area used for teaching purposes by the hospital. The young lady on the operating table had consented to a visit by the Stanley Cup, had signed a waiver and so, the Cup was carefully carried into the operating room. The patient was entirely covered and sported a broad smile as the trophy was brought over for her to see.

Okay, the Stanley Cup has been battled over for 110 years and has seen its share of stitches and blood. It sat on the sidelines while the Calgary Flames and the Tampa Bay Lightning displayed enormous heart. For goodness sake, the Stanley Cup has even sat beside the Hart Trophy on hundreds of occasions. But we can truthfully report that this is the first time the Stanley Cup has ever been privy to an actual heart operation.

On Friday, we travel to Raleigh, North Carolina for the NHL Entry Draft in 'Stanley Cup Journal.'

Kevin Shea is a hockey author and manager at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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