Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 01
The Stanley Cup Journal

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman presents the
Stanley Cup to the proud captain of the triumphant Tampa Bay Lightning. After twenty-two sensational
yet frustrating seasons, Dave Andreychuk could finally add the single piece missing from his hockey resume -- the Stanley Cup!
There is no more exciting scenario in hockey.

An 82-game schedule, four rounds of playoffs and the entire season comes down to one game. One solitary game.

Two teams looking for the elusive sixteenth victory that will allow them to be forever known as the 2004 Stanley Cup champions. For some of the team members, this was the first of several they'll collect through their careers. For others, it will be the sole opportunity to cradle hockey's most cherished award.

The Stanley Cup arrived in Tampa Bay early Sunday afternoon, having made the trip from Calgary by way of Toronto. For a city not traditionally known as a 'hockey town,' Tampa was electric. Absolutely electric. The newspapers were filled with stories, profiles and editorials. WDAE 620 AM spat out hour after hour of Lightning jolts. The Sunshine Network made certain everyone in the region was aware that the Tampa Bay Lightning were perched on the precipice of hockey history.

Ruslan Fedotenko scored both goals, including the Stanley Cup-winning goal at 14:38 of the second period, in Tampa's deciding 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames on June 7.
Monday, June 8. Game day. The final contest of a magical, almost mythical season for both franchises. Since the National Hockey League debuted in 1917, no team that had eliminated the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs had ever gone on to win the Stanley Cup. Tampa Bay had defeated the Canadiens in the second round in four consecutive games. Would it be a new chapter or history repeating itself?

The Stanley Cup was polished to a gleaming sheen by the two representatives of the Hockey Hall of Fame who were entrusted with the trophy for this final game. Philip Pritchard, the Vice President of Hockey Operations, and Craig Campbell, Manager of the Resource Centre, rubbed, preened and polished the one hundred and eleven-year-old trophy so it would sparkle amidst the lights, cameras and action in the St. Pete Times Forum.

At 7:00PM, one hour prior to the opening face-off, a silver Dodge Durango swung in front of the hotel to pick up the handlers plus both the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the most valuable player in the playoffs. Carefully packed in its large blue travel container, the Cup was carried into the Forum at 7:15, and tucked into a security area near the Zamboni entrance under the watchful eye of local police, venue security and NHL security.

Right after the conclusion of the first period, the Stanley Cup was taken to the on-ice officials' room, where its precious silver patina would receive one final rub, then await the game's logical conclusion.

Martin St. Louis shares a special moment with his son Ryan Martin
Martin St. Louis, who started his career in Calgary before joining Tampa Bay, shares a special moment during the celebration with his son, Ryan Martin
With Tampa Bay up 2-0 midway through the third period, the Stanley Cup was removed from its case and readied for presentation to the captain of the winning team by National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman. But wait! Calgary scored on a powerplay at 9:21. It was now a tighter contest and both teams were desperate for the win.

There was no need for overtime. The Lightning held on and collected the Stanley Cup for the first time in the franchise's existence. Final score: 2-1. The sound was deafening as Pritchard and Campbell waited on their cue to carry the Stanley Cup down the red carpet to centre ice where they'd be met by the NHL's commissioner.

With the signal given, the boys from the Hockey Hall of Fame navigated their way to the ice surface, traveling along the now abandoned Lightning bench to the red carpet. Without realizing the roar could escalate further, as Pritchard and Campbell stepped out onto the red carpet with the Cup, the decibel level grew significantly louder. "The fans were definitely ready to celebrate," laughs Phil Pritchard. "Having the home team win on home ice in Game 7 of a Stanley Cup final is pretty phenomenal."

Every year since 1993, Gary Bettman has taken the Stanley Cup and awarded it to the captain of the championship team. "The crowd was so deafening, I was standing beside Mr. Bettman and I couldn't hear a word he was saying," states Craig Campbell.

Conn Smythe Trophy winner Brad Richards waves to family in the stands as he celebrates his first Stanley Cup win with his parents on the home ice of the
St. Pete Times Forum.
22,717 were shoehorned into the Forum to see the game inside, but thousands more watched the proceedings unfold on the streets around the area. The game was projected onto a building, turning the streets into a gigantic tailgate party. The projected image got better defined in the day's half-light as dusk descended on Tampa Bay. Thousands, stretched out on sleeping bags, sharing the emotions of their colleagues inside the St. Pete Times Forum.

Dave Andreychuk, who had waited twenty-two years for the opportunity to sip champagne from the Stanley Cup, was handed the most prized trophy in sports. The Lightning's captain beamed as he raised the trophy over his head. Twenty-two years and six teams later and the Hamilton, Ontario native was finally able to live out his childhood dream. "It has taken me awhile to get to this point, and I can't put into words the things that are going through your mind but it's a lot more than expected," Andreychuk later told CBC television.

Each member of the Lightning took his turn holding the Stanley Cup over his head in triumph, a tradition reserved solely for those who have earned the right to do so. "You go through such an emotional rollercoaster - so many ups and downs to get here that to be able to finish it off is indescribable," said Freddy Modin.

After 1,597 regular season games without winning hockey's greatest prize - more than any other player in NHL history - Dave Andreychuk finally got the opportunity to cradle the Stanley Cup as his Lightning defeated the Calgary Flames in the seventh game of the
2004 Stanley Cup Final.
It was a relatively short celebration on-ice. After each Tampa Bay victor had enjoyed a brief skate cradling the Cup, the 2004 Stanley Cup champions took to the ice for a team photograph. Then, the grinning Andreychuk took Lord Stanley's mug to the Lightning dressing room, where the team's families waited. Wives, children and parents got the opportunity to spend time with the trophy while Andreychuk returned to the ice beside his teammates.

The team left the ice surface collectively, to the thunderous ovation of a Lightning crowd. "How 700 people can fit into a 42-person dressing room, I'll never know," laughed Pritchard as he and Campbell made their way to the celebration going on beneath the stands. One of those with a special reason to smile was back-up netminder John Grahame. His father Ron was a goalie for the Boston Bruins in 1977-78, but never enjoyed a Stanley Cup celebration. But Charlotte Grahame, John's mother, was Pierre Lacroix's executive assistant with the Colorado Avalanche and as such, had her named etched into the Stanley Cup. Now, Charlotte and John become the first mother-son combination to have their names on the Stanley Cup.

As the celebration wound down, the Lightning players asked all the guests to kindly leave the dressing room. The players and coach, now immortalized in history together, wanted a few private moments to cherish the feat they had just accomplished.

Later, a team party was held in Icons, the bar found within the St. Pete Times Forum. Much, much later into the night, the Stanley Cup was packed back into its case. In its first night as the treasure of Tampa Bay, the Stanley Cup went home with the captain - Dave Andreychuk - a most deserving honour for the veteran who hours before held the dubious distinction of having played the most National Hockey League games without winning a Stanley Cup championship.

That has all changed now!

On Friday, the 'Stanley Cup Journal' follows the parade route as the Lightning shares the Stanley Cup with the City of Tampa.

Kevin Shea is the Manager, Special Projects and Publishing, for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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