Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals 2004: 13
The Stanley Cup Journal

The Lightning's dressing room attendants Casey Taylor, 'Lightning Rod' Harris, Vince Humphries and Chris Bottini shared a day of celebration with the Stanley Cup, and started with a visit to Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
In the spirit of sharing the wealth, the Tampa Bay Lightning allowed their dressing room attendants the golden opportunity to spend Thursday, July 1 with the Stanley Cup.

The home dressing room attendants, Chris Bottini and Vince Humphries, and the visiting team's dressing room attendants, 'Lightning Rod' Harris and Casey Taylor, rented a Winnebago for the day's adventure. They picked up hockey's Holy Grail in the morning and spirited it over to St. Petersburg for a visit to Tropicana Field and baseball's Devil Rays. The Stanley Cup was placed on a table in the middle of Tampa Bay's dressing room, and as the ball players came in, they stopped and examined hockey's highest award. Local hero Tino Martinez, outfielders Carl Crawford and Rocco Baldelli, designated hitter Aubrey Huff, catcher Brook Fordyce, pitchers Lance Carter and Doug Waechter and manager Lou Pinella spent the most time with the Stanley Cup, and as the bowl was filled with baseballs, Coach Pinella thanked the Lightning staff for bringing the Cup. "We are very honoured to have such a prestigious trophy in our dressing room."

Tampa native and Devil Rays star Tino Martinez enjoyed holding hockey's ultimate prize.
Noting that the Devil Rays were playing the Toronto Blue Jays, the attendants crossed to the visiting dressing room, where outfielder Reed Johnson and Chris Woodward, the Jays' shortstop, took special delight in seeing hockey's highest honour.

The Stanley Cup then was taken to Rod Harris's home in the Palm Harbour area. After having a photograph taken that will be used on 2004's Christmas card, 'Lightning Rod' and his family entertained a party of a hundred guests at their home.

Casey Taylor then took the Cup to his Tampa home, where friends and family, including his Dad Bobby, the Lightning's TV colour analyst, enjoyed a few hours with the trophy.

When it was Chris Bottini's turn with the Stanley Cup, he took it to the coast guard base in Clearwater, where three hundred servicemen enjoyed a celebration with the Lightning's championship reward.

The Stanley Cup was guest of honour at City Hall in Treasure Island, Florida.
Vince Humphries then escorted the Cup to Wimauma when it came to his turn. Fifty people waited at the Humphries home for Vince to carry the gleaming trophy through his front door.

That evening, the four attendants took the Stanley Cup to several local establishments. First stop was Bilmar Station, a large Tampa sports bar that was host to four hundred family and friends of the four dressing room attendants. The Stanley Cup closed the night out at Good Time Charlie's, Chris Bottini's preferred local watering hole.

The Stanley Cup traveled to Treasure Island, a community on the Gulf side of Florida, on Friday, July 2, where it was the guest of honour at the home of Rick Paterson, Tampa Bay's Chief Pro Scout, and his wife Kathy, who is the Lightning's Hockey Operations Executive Assistant, assisting General Manager Jay Feaster.

Rick played with the Chicago Black Hawks between 1978 and 1988, before moving into the coaching ranks. He earned Stanley Cup rings as an assistant coach with the champion Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992.

Coach John Tortorella derived great inspiration on his second visit with the Stanley Cup to MacDill Air Force Base.
The vehicle rolled up to the steps of Treasure Island's City Hall. Rick and Kathy brought the Stanley Cup in to show Mayor Mary Maloof and her staff. Rick also brought his rings from Pittsburgh and Kathy provided information on the Stanley Cup for all those interested in hockey's most revered trophy.

For several days, the Patersons had distributed flyers inviting the residents of Treasure Island to stop by their home to see the Stanley Cup. From two o'clock until seven, a steady parade of residents dropped by. Rick and Kathy had the Stanley Cup set up on their driveway, with the garage opened and terrific hockey memorabilia displayed, including a collection of Rick's sweaters and game-used sticks from Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. It was a searing day, and then the weather took a turn and a storm broke over Treasure Island. The Stanley Cup was shuffled into the garage. "Can't take a chance that the Cup might be hit by lightning," said Rick. "I don't need anybody welded to the Cup!"

That evening, the Stanley Cup was paraded to a succession of bars and restaurants along St. Pete Beach. The initial stop was to the Don CeSar Hotel, a historic pink hotel built in 1928 and named after the first owner's favourite opera performer, Don Caesar de Bazan. After Don CeSar's, the Cup stopped into Philthy Phil's, the VIP Lounge and Ricky T's, and then was taken back to the Patersons' home where it sat next to the television set while a group of close friends watched the Tampa Bay Lightning's Stanley Cup DVD.

Brittany, John, Chris and Dominick Tortorella enjoyed watching the sun set on another fabulous day in Pass-A-Grille, Florida.
The Stanley Cup Tour took the trophy to the Tortorellas on Saturday, July 3. Coach John Tortorella and his wife Chris have two children, Brittany and Dominick, and through the summer, the family stays at their beach house in Pass-A-Grille on Florida's Gulf of Mexico coast. John decided to deviate from his original plan. "Hope you guys don't mind, but I've changed the plans," he told those at the beach house. "Instead of taking the Stanley Cup out fishing, I'm taking the Stanley Cup back to the MacDill Air Force Base." Within moments, Tortorella's friend Mack Wilkinson, recently retired from the service, showed up at the door ready to escort John and the Cup to the base.

The Stanley Cup was set up in a hospitality area at the Air Force Base. Although it was the Fourth of July weekend and a holiday for many, a large number of visitors came by to see the Stanley Cup. Photos were taken with General Doug Brown, the Commander of the United States Special Operations Command. General Brown invited the Lightning coach and his Cup up to his office. After several security checks, the Stanley Cup was allowed to sit in the office of General Brown.

General Doug Brown talked at length about the key to success being mental toughness. This struck a resounding chord with John Tortorella, who listened intently to the general. "I've got to get this through to the guys," Tortorella said. "General Brown, would you come speak to my players at some point?" Brown agreed, and gave a special medallion to Tortorella and Wilkinson. It was apparent to all that John Tortorella had immensely enjoyed his return to the MacDill Air Force Base.

John then took the Stanley Cup to the Tampa Bay Palms Golf and Country Club, located on the grounds of the base. The trophy sat in the clubhouse as a special treat for those playing a round that day.

Back to the beach at Pass-A-Grille and John and Chris hosted a private party for a hundred people. While celebrating his day with the Stanley Cup, the Lightning coach reflected back on his afternoon at MacDill. "The Stanley Cup always goes to bars. I wanted to take it someplace where it can make a difference. Those people serving their country give guys like us the opportunity to play hockey and to actually win the Cup."

Come join the Stanley Cup Journal again on Friday and discover how hockey's historic trophy spent the Fourth of July.

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

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