Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals 2004: 06
The Stanley Cup Journal

Brad Richards established Richy's Rascals to give children suffering from cancer an opportunity to enjoy attending Lightning games as his guest. Here, he invited the Rascals an his pal, Martin St.Louis, for a day of fun and celebration at Game Works.
The Stanley Cup left New York for Tampa on Tuesday, June 15 to spend the day with Brad Richards. Although not his official twenty-four hour visit with the Stanley Cup, the day had been reserved for the Conn Smythe Trophy winner in order to spend time with some special friends.

At every Lightning home game, Brad Richards fills suite #521 with friends. These are extra special friends. He calls them Richy's Rascals, and they are chosen to attend the game through the Pediatric Cancer Foundation in Tampa. Some aren't able to bounce and cheer and thrust their little fists in the air, but for two or three hours, watching Brad and the Lightning play hockey makes them forget the shooting pains in their tortured little bodies; nullifies the nausea that wreaks havoc with their systems. For these children battling an opponent even tougher than the Calgary Flames, Brad Richards is about the greatest guy in the entire world for giving them this opportunity.

When Richards was a precocious ten-year-old pulling on his skates in Murray Harbour, PEI, he watched his eight-year old cousin Jamie succumb to cancer. Even as a child himself, he vowed that if he ever was in a position to help, he would do whatever he could do to try to make life better for those battling this brutal disease.

A proud Maritimer, Brad Richards is very pleased to be the first champion to enjoy lobster bisque from a very special bowl.
At 10AM that Tuesday, Richards invited his Richy's Rascals to join him and the Stanley Cup at Game Works in Ybor City. The arcade was buzzing like a wet bee as the excitement level grew in the arcade/restaurant. Special friend Martin St. Louis dropped by to say hi to the gang. Coach John Tortorella came a little bit later, too. The children chomped on pizza and scooped up spoonfuls of ice cream. At times, little fingers covered in tomato sauce, strings of cheese hanging from newly washed clothing and vanilla ice cream dripping off sticky elbows was the order of the day. The boys and girls got their pictures taken with their heroes and the Stanley Cup. That morning, the Stanley Cup wore pizza sauce and ice cream too, but you know — it didn't matter. A huge smile takes precedence over a good scrub every time.

Some of those children will remember their day with Brad Richards and the Stanley Cup for the rest of their lives. The heartbreaking truth is that for some of Richy's Rascals, that life will be far, far too short.

Brad Richards enjoys a great meal and in his mind, the food doesn't get any better than at Bern's Steak House. Often after a game, Richards and a few of the boys will drop in for a meal, and they are always well taken care of by the staff no matter what time they arrive. "There's a guy there, Eric Renaud, the sommelier - he's a good hockey fan," explains Brad. "He does what he can to help us out. It might be 10:30 at night and he'll make sure we get in and get some food. You can't ask for better food or better wine." To thank them for their many kindnesses, Brad and some friends brought the Stanley Cup to the steak house.

They toured through the extensive wine cellar, noting bottles whose contents had remained intact since the early 1800s. Then, it was time to eat. "Has lobster bisque ever been eaten out of the Stanley Cup," Richards asked, and proceeded to eat not only the tasty broth, but his salad and later, ice cream, out of Lord Stanley's bowl. For an entrée, Brad devoured the filet — his usual choice at Bern's, then, ordered the banana cheese pie for dessert.

Brad's friends had some gifts for the Conn Smythe Trophy winner. Richards was particularly taken by the giant Pez beer dispenser. "Cool," he smiled. "I'm taking this home to PEI with me!"

Richards took the Cup table by table through the restaurant to show the patrons, who were amazed to find the Lightning star and hockey's most cherished trophy in the restaurant. "I'm still amazed that we won the Cup," Brad mused. "I can't believe that the Stanley Cup is sitting here and we're going to get our names on it!"

* * *

Waiting for clearance to enter the MacDill Air Force Base, guard dogs performed their duties by sniffing the Stanley Cup, then it was on to Hangar 3.
By eight o'clock on the morning of Wednesday, June 16, the Stanley Cup was in line outside of Hangar Three at the MacDill Air Force Base, waiting for clearance to enter the United States' Central Command. Ahead in the line-up were John Tortorella, coach of the Lightning, and general manager Jay Feaster.

At the gate, military personnel searched the vehicle and a guard dog sniffed the Stanley Cup. Everything was in order and the trophy proceeded into the hangar. Waiting there were 5,000 cheering military personnel, excited at being able to celebrate with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

MacDill is a 5,000 acre complex located just eight miles away from Tampa. Originally built to train personnel during World War II, today it is an operational base employing 6,000 military personnel and civilians.

John Tortorella ensured that all in attendance at MacDill Air Force Base knew how much their contributions were appreciated.
Standing on a stage in front of a monstrous video screen, Tortorella and Feaster quickly discovered that the Stanley Cup's appearance was being transmitted live to bases in Iraq and Afghanistan as well.

Both Feaster and Tortorella, hoisting the Cup for all to witness, spoke about the importance of MacDill's role in world peace. Holding the Stanley Cup aloft amidst an incredible reception, John Tortorella admitted, "This is such a small, little thing compared to what you do for us." With that statement, the decibel level increased exponentially.

John told personnel how nervous he had been. "I was a wreck," he said, shaking his head. "It's one thing to talk to the media, but those people out there, they're risking their lives for God's sake!" Tortorella was reminded that there was reason to be nervous when coaching in the seventh game of a Stanley Cup final. "Yeah, you're right," he stated. "But this was different."

Coach Tortorella and GM Jay Feaster raised the
Stanley Cup to thunderous applause from
the 5,000 personnel on hand.
The personnel at MacDill had another important visitor on that Wednesday. President George Bush flew in to address the base. President Bush's visit was to thank the military men and women for all they had been doing in the war against terrorism.

Before he got into the body of his speech to the MacDill Base, President Bush acknowledged Coach Tortorella and GM Jay Feaster. "I know we've got people from the Tampa Bay Lightning here," the president stated, pointing. Acknowledging the heat of the afternoon, Bush added, "It seems like it would be hard to skate on ice in this kind of weather!"

Come back Friday, when you and the Stanley Cup go to New York City, in the Stanley Cup Journal.

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

Spirit Of Hockey, shop online now!
Find out about renting the facilities at the Hockey Hall of Fame
Donate your hockey artifacts to the Hockey Hall of Fame