Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 13

Brad Stuart and family pose for a photo with Lord Stanley
as a future Red Wing star catches a few 'z' s.
(Bill Wellman/HHOF)
It seemed only appropriate that the Stanley Cup spend Canada Day (July 1) in Canada, celebrating that country's 141st birthday (Shut up! You don't look a day over 120!), and then spend Independence Day (July 4) in the United States, where 232 candles were being lit on birthday cakes from New York to L.A. (look, I've told you a million times, I never exaggerate!).

The Stanley Cup arrived in California in time to enjoy Thursday, July 3 with Brad Stuart and his family at their home in Manhattan Beach.

Brad debuted in the NHL with the San Jose Sharks in 1999-2000, and during his sixth season in the Bay Area, was sent to Boston as part of the Joe Thornton deal. But several outstanding things happened to Brad while he found his way in San Jose, the best of which was meeting his future wife Melissa and her daughter Cierra.


Brad's stepdaughter Cierra proves that eating cake out of the bowl of the Cup isn't as easy as it looks. (Bill Wellman/HHOF)
This past season, Stuart was playing for the Los Angeles Kings when, in late February, he was informed that he had been traded to the Detroit Red Wings for future draft picks. From worst to first, Brad left the Kings and joined the Wings, where he was part of a solid defence that contributed significantly to Detroit's Stanley Cup championship. The Red Wings appreciated Brad's contributions to such an extent that on July 1, they re-signed him to a sizeable four-year contract. In doing so, he turned down a huge offer from the Calgary Flames so that his stepdaughter could stay in the U.S.

Brad got the Stanley Cup mid-afternoon on July 3, and enjoyed the opportunity to share it with family and some close friends. His in-laws came in from San Jose to enjoy the celebration. Brad kept it fairly low-key, but was thrilled nevertheless.

After some incredible shrimp that Brad grilled on the barbecue, he and Melissa cut the Stanley Cup cake that had been created for the occasion. Brad's stepdaughter, 13-year-old Cierra, insisted that she eat her cake from the bowl of the Stanley Cup, and did just that, digging into the mountain of moist goodness that was surrounded by Lord Stanley's chalice.

* * *

Cuba Gooding Jr. (centre) and two of the 'Keepers of the Cup' inspect Stanley at John Wildman's beachfront Malibu mansion. (HHOF Images)
From Manhattan Beach, the Stanley Cup was driven up to Santa Monica, then followed the scenic Pacific Coast Highway along the coast to Malibu, where it arrived at the summer home of Chris Chelios at 9:30 on the morning of the Fourth of July. Chris greeted the big prize along with his wife Tracee, and kids Dean, Jake, Caley and Tara.

The first stop was breakfast at Coogie's Beach Café. There waiting for the Chelios party, was as diverse a crowd of acquaintances as could ever be imagined: Detroit Red Wings senior executive Chris Ilitch and his wife Kelly, Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos and wife Danielle, musician Kid Rock and his son, Bobby Junior, plus John Wildman, the owner of the Bally Total Fitness chain.

While enjoying the breakfast celebration, Rob Reiner, celebrated director ('This is Spinal Tap', 'Stand By Me', 'The Bucket List') and actor (Meathead on 'All in the Family') saw the Stanley Cup and came over to say hello to Chelios and the group, then got his picture taken with the beautiful trophy.

(left to right) Chris Chelios, Kid Rock, Jeremy Piven, and Wayne Gretzky gather for a photo with the Cup. (Bill Wellman/HHOF)
Chelios and much of the group then went over to Kid Rock's massive Malibu home, where photos were taken with the Stanley Cup.

Each year, Bally's owner, John Wildman, holds a Fourth of July party at his beachfront Malibu mansion, but this year, a Stanley Cup celebration was rolled into the event for added measure. If you read the list of revelers, you'd swear it was the Academy Awards or Emmy Awards: Cuba Gooding Jr. (Oscar-winning Best Supporting Actor as the football star player in 'Jerry Maguire'), Ray Liotta (whose brilliant film acting resume includes 'Field of Dreams', 'Goodfellas', 'The Rat Pack' and 'Something Wild'), John C. McGinley (Dr. Perry Cox on 'Scrubs'), Jeremy Piven (Emmy winner for Best Supporting Actor as Hollywood agent Ari Gold on 'Entourage'), David Spade (an alumnus of 'Saturday Night Live', as well as star of 'Just Shoot Me' and 'Rules of Engagement') and D.B. Sweeney (whose long list of film successes includes portraying 'Shoeless' Joe Jackson in 'Eight Men Out'). Sweeney is an especially good pal of the Chelios family. In fact, Chris is godfather to Sweeney's son, Cade. Chelios also appeared with Sweeney in the films 'The Cutting Edge' and 'Two Tickets to Paradise'

The Californian sky is lit up with fireworks celebrating the Fourth of July. (Bill Wellman/HHOF)
From the sports world, the party also included hockey legend Wayne Gretzky with his wife Janet, newly-elected Hall of Fame member Igor Larionov, who brought along his son, Red Wings teammates Dan Cleary, Jiri Hudler, Darren McCarty and assistant equipment manager Chris Scoppetto, Sheldon Souray of the Edmonton Oilers, tennis player Jennifer Capriati, surfer Laird Hamilton and professional volleyball star Gabrielle Reece.

From the music world, attendees included Kid Rock as well as Joey Scoleri, the high-powered executive with Hollywood Records. On invitation from Chelios, Joey brought his band, Steal Thunder, a talented group of execs from Hollywood Records, who play 1970's hard rock covers around the Los Angeles just for laughs.

With a flank of beef spitting on the rotisserie, Steal Thunder took the stage. Jeremy Piven got up and beat the heat by keeping the beat on the bongos. Then, Kid Rock decided to rock the stage. With the Stanley Cup front and centre on stage, Scoleri moved from vocals to guitar as Kid Rock (who his friends refer to as Bobby) led the party through 'Rock n' Roll' by Led Zeppelin, 'Gimme Three Steps' by Lynyrd Skynyrd, his own single 'All Summer Long' into 'Sweet Home Alabama' and then concluded with Grand Funk's take on 'Some Kinda Wonderful'. And it was!!

Word filtered through the hills of Malibu that the Stanley Cup was at the Wildmans' Fourth of July party, and guests were surprised to see Tom Hanks and Sylvester Stallone wander into the celebration. "I heard the Stanley Cup was here," said Hanks, who was excited to see hockey's greatest prize.

At dusk, fireworks were set off from a barge anchored in the Pacific, illuminating the Southern California sky. By 10PM, Chris took the Stanley Cup back to his nearby home.

Chelios and Kid Rock on stage with Steal Thunder and the Stanley Cup. (HHOF Images)
This was the third Stanley Cup celebration for Chris Chelios, who at 46 years of age, is the oldest player ever to win the Cup. Chris was part of the Montreal Canadiens victory in 1986 and in Detroit's last celebration in 2002. Defying all logic, it's almost incomprehensible how Chris can continue to play elite hockey when most of the league's stars are less than half his age. He is older than Mike Babcock, his own coach, and only Gordie Howe was older when still active in the National Hockey League.

In tribute to maintaining his extraordinary fitness level, Chelios is likely the hardest working athlete in hockey. Rising at 5:45 during the summer, Chris begins his day with circuit training, then lifts weights before heading off on an exhilarating (or excruciating, depending on whose butt is on the bike) ninety-minutes of mountain biking through the hills around Malibu. During the hockey season, Chris performs something he calls an 'aerobic wash' — riding a stationary bike in the sauna for 45 minutes while gulping back two jugs of water as he pedals.

How long will he keep playing is anyone's guess, including Chelios. "I don't want to set an age," he says. "Mentally, I love the game just like I did when I first started to skate as a kid. Nothing's changed. The first thing I want to do when I wake up is go to the rink."

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The pages of the Stanley Cup Journal continue to turn throughout the summer of '08, and on Friday, we'll visit centre Mark Hartigan for his day with Lord Stanley's magnificent mug.

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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