Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals 2004: 22
The Stanley Cup Journal

At an Arkhangelsk brewer, Dmitry was greeted by performers dressed in traditional Russian costumes. Although briefly considering the suggestion of re-designing Tampa's jerseys to reflect his heritage, Afanasenkov decided he really liked the Lightning bolt!
Tuesday, the twentieth of July, the Stanley Cup arrived in Arkhangelsk, Russia, having touched down in Moscow on the originating flight from Kiev. The day had been reserved for Dmitry Afanasenkov, the Lightning's twenty-four year old star-in-the-making.

Dmitry earned the opportunity for full-time NHL employment this season after getting a couple of sniffs over the past few years and impressed enough that he was selected by the Russian Hockey Federation to participate in this fall's World Cup. Afanasenkov was born in the historic city of Arkhangelsk, a sprawling city founded in 1584. Arkhangelsk is in the northern-most part of Russia, where winters are prolonged and summers relatively short. The temperature can drop to bone-chilling lows, making it necessary to moved quickly…which explains Afanasenkov's speed.

As the jet touched down on the Arkhangelsk runway, it was greeted by a marching band waiting on the tarmac. Afanasenkov beamed as the Stanley Cup was placed in his hands. Surrounding him were family and media, equally eager to see hockey's premier trophy. A private family dinner was held featuring a traditional Russian meal of salmon, herring and mushrooms julienne.

Afanasenkov enjoyed his carriage ride through the open-air museum, although he did complain about the view behind the horses. The horse got its revenge, though, kicking up enough allergens to cause Dmitry to visit a local hospital.
First stop Wednesday morning — the mayor's office, where, in front of awaiting media, Afanasenkov received a special citation from the City of Arkhangelsk. Then, the Cup was taken to a local brewery where Dmitry and his guests were welcomed by singers dressed in traditional Russian garb. During a wonderful lunch at the brewery, Dmitry was asked to partake in a local custom. Pieces of bread were placed on the Stanley Cup, which Afanasenkov would take, dip in salt then take a bite.

After lunch, the Afanasenkov posse visited the Museum of Wooden Architecture; a tribute to Arkhangelsk's primary industry through the years — pulp and paper. The tour of the open-air museum included a ride through the area in a horse-drawn carriage.

By two that afternoon, the entourage retired to a private resort where they again indulged in a sumptuous feast of Russian foods — fish, salads, breads and the requisite vodka. Dmitry's family, friends, early coaches and others special to him gathered to celebrate with the young Lightning star. But while those Afanasenkov cares about most were enjoying the luncheon, Dmitry grew more and more ill, breaking out in blotches to the point where he found it necessary to be taken to the hospital. It turns out Afanasenkov has an allergy to horses, and the carriage ride prompted the allergies to kick in in a big way. Although he returned to the luncheon by 6:30, Dmitry was disappointed that he had missed so much of it and the chance to visit with the special invitees.

A stunning cruise of the Dvina River afforded Dmitry and his guests a view of this breath-taking sunset.
A special boat cruise on the Dvina River took place on that Wednesday evening; a terrific opportunity for Dmitry, his wife and their three-month old daughter to visit with family, friends, Dmitry's former teammates and neighbours on the incredible body of water that leads to the White Sea, which in turn, flows northward emptying into the Barents Sea. The close-knit group watched the extraordinary sunset together. Because Arkhangelsk is so far north, the sun was setting at midnight! While the boat cruised Dvina's calm surface, a plethora of toasts were made to the culture, the traditions and the hospitality of Russia, as well as to its young star Dmitry Afanasenkov and the Stanley Cup.

Afanasenkov and the Stanley Cup took a sightseeing tour that included the massive statue of Lenin in Petrovskiy Park
The cruise ended and its crew found their beds. Thursday morning, Dmitry took the Stanley Cup on a sightseeing tour of Arkhangelsk, where they saw amazing sculptures and monuments. Likely the most impressive was a massive statue of Vladimir Lenin located in Petrovskiy Park in the heart of Arkhangelsk. Lenin headed the Soviet government from 1917 until he retired in 1922.

Two American couples who traveled to Arkhangelsk to take home their newly-adopted babies also took home a souvenir of their precious new bundles with Dmitry Afanasenkov and the Stanley Cup.
A capacity crowd was sardined into a local rink for a special celebration in honour of the Stanley Cup's arrival in Arkhangelsk due to the victory by Dmitry Afanasenkov and his Tampa teammates. Videos were screened and speeches delivered in tribute to the wonderful accomplishment.

In the hotel lobby waiting to head off to the airport, Afanasenkov ran into two American couples; massive hockey fans, too. They were ecstatic to see the Stanley Cup up close and personal, but the nature of their visit took a different path entirely. Both couples were in Arkhangelsk to pick up their newly adopted children! The couple from just outside Washington, DC adopted a beautiful little girl they named Alexandra. The Connecticut couple was there to take home their precious little boy, Brook. Two years ago, this lovely couple had adopted Brook's older brother. Both sets of beaming new parents posed in Arkhangelsk with Dmitry, the Stanley Cup and their new angels.

The Stanley Cup Journal boards for Prague next, where we spend time with Stan Neckar and Pavel Kubina. Please stay seated until we've come to a full and complete stop.

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

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