Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 03
The Stanley Cup Journal

It is a proven scientific fact that the bowl of the Stanley Cup holds substantially more than the beak of a pelican. Here, feathered friends flock together with the Stanley Cup at the St. Petersburg Pier. (Scott Audette)
Lightning truly does strike twice.

On June 7, 2004, the Tampa Bay Lightning outmanoeuvred Calgary's Flames to collect the first Stanley Cup championship in the franchise's brief history. It was a hysterical evening for Tampa Bay, and a historic time for the Lightning. One year later, the franchise celebrated for a second time, inviting the Stanley Cup and other NHL trophies to revisit the scene of last year's celebration.

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The Stanley Cup, bright and gleaming in the Florida sun, arrived in Tampa on Sunday, June 5. Late in the afternoon, it was whisked over to the Sirata Beach Resort on St. Pete's Beach, where Team Sandtastic had meticulously created a remarkable 14-foot replica of Lord Stanley's prized trophy out of sand.

'Y'ever been ta sea, Stanley?' Now, having climbed aboard The Eagle, one of the tall ships anchored in St. Petersburg, the Stanley Cup can say, 'Aye aye, matey!'
(Scott Audette)
The Sarasota-based company did a terrific job, and proudly stood by as the actual Stanley Cup was posed next to its silicon-based replica. While there, Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster Bob Cole, accompanied by his wife, happened to be strolling by, enjoy a vacation in the area. It's not often that hockey play-by-play announcers get to enjoy a vacation in June! He, along with hundreds of fans, came by to see the 'Sand-ley Cup' and its inspiration.

Monday morning, June 6, the Stanley Cup was taken to Don CeSar's, an extraordinary flamingo-pink Mediterranean-styled castle on St. Pete's Beach. Lightning defenseman Stan Neckar, coincidentally, was there at the same time and was ecstatic beyond words to be able to see his name engraved on the Stanley Cup for the first time. Last July 23, Neckar spent time with the Stanley Cup in Prague but that was prior to the Cup being engraved. It sure is a small world…but I wouldn't want to paint it!

After leaving Don CeSar's, the Cup was photographed on the Skyway Bridge and then moved over to the St. Peterburg Pier. Pelicans immediately circled the Stanley Cup like buzzards over roadkill — everybody loves Lord Stanley's legacy! The Cup was given a tour of one of the sensational tall ships anchored there. The Eagle, built in Germany in 1936, is magnificent and with all the rigging, (more than 5 miles worth), gave the appearance of a pirate ship. Or maybe it was just the Cup keeper's wishful thinking, as he quietly sang, 'Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum.'

The Stanley Cup looks up to Dolly the giraffe (doesn't everybody?) on the Serengeti
Plain of Busch Gardens. (Scott Audette)
World renowned Busch Gardens was the next stop for the Stanley Cup. With a double wooden rollercoaster named Gwazi in the background prompting squeals of delight, the Cup was transported to meet Dolly on the Serengeti Plain. Dolly is a female giraffe that insisted on peering into the bowl of the Stanley Cup. Of course, it was a whole lot easier for Dolly to look into than most!

Afterwards, the Cup was taken to the Budweiser Clydesdale Hamlet. The beautiful but immense Clydesdales pranced and preened before the beautiful trophy before it was sent on its way once again.

Dinner was spent in Ybor City, Florida's Latin Quarter near Tampa. After a meal at a sensational Cuban restaurant with patrons shocked but delighted to discover the Stanley Cup seated in their midst, it was off to a birthday party for Mary Jane Campbell, the wife of Lightning president Ron Campbell. The Campbell home, located right on the bay in South Tampa, was a magnificent setting for a party and as the sun set majestically on the horizon, it reflected in blazing orange on the Stanley Cup.

The orange globe of a setting sun served as a magnificent backdrop on a perfect evening at the South Tampa home of Lightning president Ron Campbell.
(Scott Audette)
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June 7 was the exact one year anniversary of the Lightning's Stanley Cup victory. Hockey's most cherished award arrived at noon for a barbecue held outside the St. Pete Times Forum. Fans arrived in droves (and some in cars, too), availing themselves of hotdogs and hamburgers barbecued by the hundreds.

The Cup was taken to the XO Club inside the Forum, where other trophies won by Lightning players in 2003-04 awaited — the Prince of Wales for the Eastern Conference playoff champion, the Art Ross for the leading regular season scorer (Martin St. Louis), the Hart Trophy, awarded to the most valuable player during the regular season (St. Louis), the Pearson, given to the season's MVP but voted on by the NHL players (St. Louis), the Lady Byng for the NHL's most gentlemanly player (Brad Richards) and the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the playoff MVP (Richards).

By 2:30, the trophies were toted to the Tampa dressing room. Dana Heinze, the Lightning's assistant equipment manager, had completely renovated the room, installing new stalls and laying new carpeting. The seven impressive trophies were carefully placed around the Lightning logo, then GM Jay Feaster and his staff posed for photographs amidst the trophies.

Returning to the scene of the crime: these witnesses returned to the site where the Lightning stole the Stanley Cup championship one year prior. (Craig Campbell/HHOF)
At five, season ticket holders were invited to relive the jubilation of one year prior. Hundreds waited outside for several hours, anxious to see the trophies up close and personal, and now appropriately including the engraved names of the winners. The moment the doors swung open, the crowd swarmed the trophies during this exclusive opportunity, running their index fingers over the names of favourite Lightning stars. Then, at 6:30, the public was welcomed to spend the evening reliving the magical event of June 7, 2004. The theme was 'one' — one year after winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history, fans enjoyed food and beverages for $1. At eight o'clock, the Cup was taken onto the stage at one end of the Forum as the final contest of the 2003-04 season was shown on the scoreboard. 10,000 Lightning fans sat on the edge of their seats. Even though they knew the outcome, it was as though the game was being newly played. Then, as the clock counted down the seconds, the faithful shouted out, 'TEN! NINE! EIGHT! SEVEN! SIX! FIVE! FOUR! THREE! TWO! ONE!' Immediately, a sea of confetti fell on the crowd as fireworks danced over the heads of the screaming throng. At deafening decibels, Queen sang 'We are the champions' and the Tampa crowd chanted along with Freddie Mercury to every word of the sports anthem. It was nearly as magical a moment as the original celebration 365 days before!

One year later, a frenzied crowd of 10,000 witnessed, for a second time, the Stanley Cup victory of the reigning champions -- the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
A lot has gone on through the passage of a year. The Boston Red Sox destroyed the Curse of the Bambino by winning the World Series for the first time since 1918. 'Tsunami' became a word we wished we had never heard. 'Ray,' 'Million Dollar Baby' and 'The Passion of the Christ' arrived and Marlon Brando, Johnny Carson and Pope John Paul II left us. We discovered Hoobastank and Lived Like We Were Dying. But above and beyond all else, the Tampa Bay Lightning continue as the reigning Stanley Cup champions!

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On Friday, lather on the sunscreen as the Stanley Cup tans in the Southwestern United States, visiting Los Angeles and Phoenix.

Kevin Shea is the Manager of Publishing and Editorial Content for the Hockey Hall of Fame.
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