On Thursday, June 14, the Stanley Cup was flown from Orange County to Toronto in order to participate in the televised 2007 National Hockey League Awards Show. "Tonight, we celebrate the outstanding achievements of an outstanding season," stated Gary Bettman, the NHL's commissioner.
Straight from the Keepers of the Cup!
View videos from the summer-long travels with the Stanley Cup.
Hosted by broadcaster Ron McLean, as literate and witty as always, the Anaheim Ducks had considerable presence. Introduced by the host, the audience erupted when Scott Niedermayer, Sammy Pahlsson and Chris Pronger stepped on stage with the Stanley Cup.
Pahlsson was nominated for the Selke Trophy as top defensive forward, an honour that was presented by Frank Selke Jr. and Doug Gilmour to Carolina's Rod Brind'Amour.
Both Niedermayer and Pronger were up for the Norris Trophy, awarded to the NHL's top defenseman. Larry Murphy handed the trophy to winner Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings.
The night truly belonged to Sidney Crosby. He was awarded the Pearson Award by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (a hockey historian himself), the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's top point-getter by junior phenom John Tavares of the Oshawa Generals and the Hart Trophy as the regular season MVP by Gordie Howe.
In a televised presentation, Jean Beliveau awarded the Rocket Richard Trophy to Tampa's Vincent Lecavalier, Cam Neely handed the Bill Masterton Trophy for perseverance and dedication to Phil Kessel of the Bruins while Saku Koivu was awarded the King Clancy Trophy for community service in absentia (which is not far from Finland).
|Vincent Lecavalier (left) proudly accepts the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy
presented annually to the goal-scoring leader during the regular season. The award was presented this year by Henri Richard (right), brother of the late Maurice Richard. (Steve Poirier/HHOF)
The Minnesota Wild tandem of Niklas Backstrom and Manny Fernandez earned the Jennings Trophy for the lowest goals against average, while TV personality George Stroumboulopoulos and wrestler Trish Stratus handed Martin Brodeur the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goaltender.
The three beautiful ladies in the recording trio Shaye presented Pavel Datsyuk of Detroit with the Lady Byng Trophy as most gentlemanly player. Young Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins was not available to receive the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year, presented by Dale Hawerchuk. The Jack Adams Trophy as coach of the year went to Vancouver's Alain Vigneault, presented by Pat Quinn.
The NHL's First All-Star Team was also announced, with Martin Brodeur in goal, Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin and Dany Heatley at the three forward positions while Nicklas Lidstrom and Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer were named as the duo on defense.
The Trews and the sensational Finger 11 entertained during the show, then the latter played at the exclusive after-party at the tony Carlu Theatre. Guests celebrated in three adjoining rooms with an array of magnificent dishes of their choosing, rubbing shoulders with hockey stars of both a current and heritage vintage.
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One week later, on June 21, 2007, the Stanley Cup again left Orange County, but this time it was to be present at the annual NHL Draft, being held at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, home of the NHL's Blue Jackets.
|The Stanley Cup sits front and centre at the dinner table with the scouting staff of the Anaheim Ducks at Hyde Park Steak House in Columbus, Ohio.
The Stanley Cup, along with all the NHL merit trophies, was prominent at the Top Prospects Preview, not so subtly reminding the young players that a pot of gold lies at the end of the hockey rainbow.
That evening, the team of scouts for the Anaheim Ducks congregated over an excellent meal at the Hyde Park Steak House, who had prepared a special menu just for the Stanley Cup champions. With Brian Burke, the Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Anaheim presiding over dinner, the birddogs from all over the globe gathered to relax before the draft, the culmination of their hours of dedicated hard work through the hockey season.
Although the Stanley Cup celebration is special to all the Ducks' staff, it holds special significance to Rick Paterson, the Ducks' Director of Professional Scouting, as this is victory number four for him he was an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins when they won the Stanley Cup in 1991 and 1992, and was the chief scout for the Tampa Bay Lightning when they were victorious in 2004. But why would this one be sweeter? Two days after the Ducks circled the rink hoisting the Stanley Cup this spring, Rick and his wife Kathy welcomed twins into this world!
As the scouts kibitzed around the table, the Stanley Cup was brought out as a special surprise. Speeches were made and photographs taken. Rick Nash, the star forward of the Blue Jackets, was in the restaurant at the same time, but kept his distance, not wanting to jinx Columbus's chances at winning hockey's greatest prize. But other diners weren't so discriminating, and made their way over to the Anaheim table to get a look at the prestigious Stanley Cup.
|The unsung heroes of the Ducks, better known as scouting staff, celebrate like the Ducks' players with the Stanley Cup. (Phil Pritchard /HHOF)
On Friday, June 22, the Stanley Cup was exhibited in the lobby of the Nationwide Arena as the NHL teams made their first round selections. Although there was a thirty-minute wait for fans to get a photo with Lord Stanley's legacy, it was an interminable wait for a group of excited, anxious young men, hoping to hear their names called by a National Hockey League team.
John McConnell, the owner of the host Columbus Blue Jackets, addressed the waiting crowd by way of a massive screen within the arena, and was received with thunderous applause. Columbus was an outstanding host for the event, and the Blue Jackets did an admirable job in making the city and hockey fans proud of their affiliation.
Like a track announcer at the Indianapolis, NHL Commissioner got the teams, prospects and fans prepared, then announced the start of the NHL Entry Draft. Selecting first, after winning the lottery, was the Chicago Black Hawks. General Manager Dale Tallon got the proceedings underway by announcing that the first pick overall was Patrick Kane, a Buffalo native who starred for the London Knights in 2006-07. Kane scored 62 goals and 145 points in 58 regular season games this past season, making him the highest-scoring player in the Canadian Hockey League. In 16 playoff games, Patrick added 31 additional points.
"You never think it's going to happen, but as a kid, you're always announcing yourself as the number one pick and breaking all these records in your basement," admitted Kane. "It's just a dream come true!"
GM Tallon commented, "He's got something special. We're going to give him every chance to succeed -- put him with some good players and see what happens."
|Hockey enthusiasts waited anxiously to get their photo with the Stanley Cup which was exhibited in the lobby of the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Phil Pritchard /HHOF)
The Philadelphia Flyers were the second franchise to select, and chose James Van Riemsdyk, a local boy from Middletown, New Jersey who scored 33 goals and 63 points in 42 games with the United States Under-18 Team last season.
"This is the best moment of my life, right now," James giggled.
Paul Holmgren, general manager of the Flyers, was pleased with the pick. "He's big, he can skate and he has good hands."
The third pick belonged to the Phoenix Coyotes, and after owner/coach Wayne Gretzky strode to the podium, the arena erupted in a spontaneous standing ovation in tribute to 'The Great One.' Mildly embarrassed, Gretzky announced that the Phoenix pick would be Kyle Turris, the 2007 Canadian Junior Hockey Player of the Year while starring with the Burnaby Express of the British Columbia Hockey League.
"When Wayne Gretzky called my name from that stage, I was speechless," said Turris, who led the BCHL with 66 goals during 2006-07. "It was an unbelievable feeling that I can't fully describe." Born in New Westminster, BC, Turris added, "I'm so thrilled and honoured to be joining the Phoenix Coyotes!"
The second through seventh rounds of the NHL Draft continued on Saturday, and again, the Stanley Cup and the other trophies were displayed. There was a hundred-person wait to get photographs with the Cup through most of the afternoon. Many of the prospects and their families ventured over to see the Stanley Cup, but the young men refused to touch the Cup, a longstanding superstition within the NHL.
That evening, the Anaheim scouts and management gathered en masse in a hotel suite to celebrate the weekend's successes, with the Stanley Cup sitting in a corner of the room. Alain Chainey, Anaheim's Director of Amateur Scouting, stated, "Winning the Stanley Cup is the Lotto 6/49 of sports," and with a sea of smiles and nods, he didn't find a soul who didn't agree.
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On Friday, you won't want to miss the Stanley Cup's trip to Dryden, Ontario with Chris Pronger. See you back here then!
Kevin Shea is one of the contributors to 'Travels With Stanley' by The Keepers of the Cup, a book of geography and history lessons taught through the travels of the Stanley Cup (Fenn Publishing).
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