Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals 2004: 09
The Stanley Cup Journal

Lightning Associate Coach Craig Ramsay enjoys a Stanley Cup celebration
After a full NHL career as a player and terrific efforts as a coach with several NHL franchises, Craig Ramsay finally got to enjoy a Stanley Cup celebration as an associate coach of the Lightning in 2003-04.
Craig Ramsay never got to experience the elation of a Stanley Cup celebration through his 1,070 games as a member of the Buffalo Sabres between 1971-72 and 1984-85. And through coaching stints in Buffalo, Florida, Ottawa and Philadelphia, Ramsay never got to sip champagne or lift the Stanley Cup over his head in the victory poses favoured by Stanley Cup winners. It took an associate coaching position with the Tampa Bay Lightning for Craig Ramsay to finally get his name engraved on the Stanley Cup.

Craig Ramsay assists head coach John Tortorella in preparing the Lightning for competition, focusing primarily on the defensive aspects of the game. It's an area he knows well, parlaying his superior defensive abilities as a player not only into an outstanding NHL career, but as the 1985 recipient of the Selke Award as the NHL's best defensive forward.

The Stanley Cup spent Saturday, June 19 in Tampa, first with the staff and employees getting photos, then joining General Manager Jay Feaster at a party for friends and family in a restaurant at the Forum. But the evening was reserved for Craig Ramsay and his guests.

One of Ramsay's friends owns a house on the lip of the Saddlebrook Golf Course in Wesley Chapel, a tiny community fifteen miles north of Tampa. Craig first took the Stanley Cup to the house in the Saddlebrook Resort so his friends could have photos taken. Then, they wandered over to the main clubhouse so members could get a chance to view the legendary trophy. Nikolai Khabibulin showed up and joined Ramsay and the Stanley Cup when they went back to the home owned by Craig's friend.

Craig's wife Susan was on her way to Ottawa, but his oldest son Travis was there. A video of Game Seven between Tampa Bay and Calgary played in the background as friends mingled and snacked. Craig glanced up at the screen and shook his head. "I didn't know what I was going to do at that point," he remarked. "I had used every tool and trick in my repertoire and if Calgary shut our defensive game down, I didn't have anything else to throw at them." Ramsay chuckled, but his boys came through and the Stanley Cup sitting on a nearby table was proof in the pudding.

Ramsay and Khabibulin stood chatting. "Y'know when I knew we were going to be all right, Habby," Craig mused. "Before Game Seven, you were in the dressing room — calm and composed. There was a quiet confidence and it made me feel good about the way the scales would tip by the end of the game!"

The Stanley Cup sits regally, perched in front of one of the Launch Pads at Complex 39 at the
Kennedy Space Center.
There are a couple of people over at NASA — National Aeronautics and Space Administration — who love hockey. Not just love it; eat, sleep and breathe the game. They contacted the Tampa Bay Lightning to see if there was any possibility that the Stanley Cup could be brought to the Kennedy Space Center for a visit with the staff. GM Jay Feaster loved the idea, so on Monday, June 21, the Stanley Cup was packed up and joined Feaster and Director of Public Relations Jay Preble for a unique celebration that began at 6:30AM.

The immense 144,000 acre Kennedy Space Center complex sits along the Atlantic coast of Florida, midway between Jacksonville and Miami. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is one portion of the massive site.

The visit started at the Orbiter Processing Facility. An orbiter is one of three elements used in a Space Shuttle. It is the reusable winged spaceplane that comprises part of the Space Shuttle along with the solid rocket boosters and the external tank that contains both liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen for the orbiter's three engines. An orbiter resembles a DC-9 jet. NASA is preparing to launch the orbiter Discovery on March 4, 2005 and is going through necessary preparations for the ten-year old craft.

The Stanley Cup at NASA's Wall of Fame
The Stanley Cup looks over the names of other dignitaries who have visited and signed the Wall of Fame at NASA.
The Orbiter Processing Facility has three bays, almost like a gargantuan mechanic's bay at your local garage except each of these bays is 197 feet long, 150 feet wide and 95 feet tall. The Lightning executives stood slack-jawed holding the Stanley Cup under one of the enormous wings of the Shuttle, Discovery.

There is a restricted area upstairs that leads to the hatch where the astronauts climb in and climb out of the orbiter. Children are not allowed in the area. In fact, neither is jewellery, as each of the guests was asked to remove watches, rings and chains before they donned a special jumpsuit including a special hood that pulls over your head and neck. The hatch is adjacent to a wall that is signed by special guests, including all the astronauts. "Ohmigawd," pointed Jay Preble. "There's Clint Eastwood's signature!"

The cabin was still being constructed but the guests were able to climb into the orbiter. The Stanley Cup had to wait outside — it was too large to fit through the hatch. "Now gentleman," started one of the executives with the Kennedy Space Center. "Because space is restrictive here, it is imperative that you tell me if you or the Stanley Cup accidentally hit anything - wires, tubes - anything." The Jays - Feaster and Preble - took great pains not to nudge anything at all while they were on the premises.

Cup keeper Mike Bolt is dressed and ready to board the Shuttle
Cup keeper Mike Bolt is suited up and standing in the Space Shuttle Discovery's payload bay. Unfortunately, the Stanley Cup had to stay outside.
It was a thrill never to be forgotten by the Tampa Bay crew, who were able to return the favour a little while later. Taking the Stanley Cup to the training auditorium, 600 NASA employees got the opportunity to view the Stanley Cup.

Before a Shuttle is launched, it is taken to the Vehicle Assembly Building, and the Lightning guests carried the Stanley Cup to this huge edifice. In fact, huge doesn't do it justice — the Vehicle Assembly Building is arguably the largest building in the world! This building alone takes up eight acres, and is 525 feet tall, 716 feet long and 518 feet wide! This is where the Shuttle is assembled before blasting of into space. Remnants of the tragic Challenger, which was destroyed during a 1986 launch, are housed on the sixteenth floor of the Vehicle Assembly Building.

The final stop was one of the Launch Pads at Complex 39. Each is a quarter square mile in size. It takes a Crawler Transporter eight hours to move a Shuttle from the Vehicle Assembly Building down the three-mile Crawlerway strip to one of the Launch Pads. Some victors have remarked that the Stanley Cup is surprisingly heavy. At thirty-four and a half pounds, the Cup pales in comparison to the Space Shuttle and Mobile Launcher Platform that combine for 11 million pounds. Come to think of it, maybe the Tampa Bay Lightning DO comprehend this huge volume, as going into Game Six of the Stanley Cup final, they were carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders!

The extraordinary tour came to an end at 3:30, and the Stanley Cup was packed away having experienced one of the more incredible visits of its legendary life.

On Wednesday, the Stanley Cup Journal takes us to the home of Tampa Bay Lightning president Ron Campbell, then on to the birthplace of the Hockey Fights Cancer campaign — the Moffitt Cancer Center.

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

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