Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 07
The Stanley Cup Journal

Dickie Duff left Kirkland Lake to attend St. Michael's College in 1952. During three seasons at the Roman Catholic highschool, Duff showed the Toronto Maple Leafs that he was NHL-calibre. He'd go on to win 6 Stanley Cup championships during his career. (Imperial Oil-Turofsky/HHOF)
One of the enduring practices that makes the Stanley Cup so revered is the concept of awarding the Stanley Cup to each member of the winning team for a period of approximately twenty-four hours. To be honoured with the opportunity to celebrate with hockey's historic Stanley Cup, donated to hockey in 1893 by Canadian governor-general Lord Frederick Arthur Stanley, is a precedent that sets hockey championships apart from those of all other major sports.

The practice of sharing the Cup with members of the championship team began in 1995 with the New Jersey Devils. Prior to that, the celebration was a team affair and seldom did individuals get the opportunity to share their victory with family and friends. Going back several decades, team members often didn't even get to cradle the Cup. More often than not, the Cup was placed on a table at centre ice, the league president presented the trophy to the team captain who accepted it, then placed it back on the table or carried it to the dressing room. After an official team portrait the next morning, in uniform, with the Stanley Cup, most team members never got the chance to see Lord Stanley's mug again, let alone examine their names engraved in the silver patina of the Cup's barrel.

In lieu of having a Stanley Cup-winning team this summer, it was decided to honour many of the veterans who won the Stanley Cup in the decades before the practice of individual celebrations was initiated. A flurry of phonecalls was made to celebrated names like Johnny Bower, Elmer Lach, Ted Lindsay, Bert Olmstead and Milt Schmidt. But it's not just about Honoured Members — it's the pluggers, policemen and point-preventers all who are being offered the chance to spend time with the Stanley Cup. The reaction has been extraordinary; many of the stories, remarkable.

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After working his way into the Majors' line-up, Kelly and the team went to the Memorial Cup final once and won the junior championship in 1947. Red won 4 Stanley Cup championships as a defenceman in Detroit, and another four playing centre in Toronto.
(Imperial Oil-Turofsky/HHOF)
Few junior franchises have earned the respect and accolades of historians as thoroughly as the St. Michael's Majors of the Ontario Hockey League. Through its ninety-year history, St. Mike's, located in Toronto, has sent a staggering number of alumni to the National Hockey League while the franchise itself has won the Memorial Cup on four occasions — 1934, 1945, 1947 and 1961.

Two of the alumni who graduated from St. Mike's to the NHL returned to their alma mater on Thursday, June 23 and brought a friend…the Stanley Cup!

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8-time Stanley Cup winner Red Kelly (left) stands with 6-time champion Dick Duff, flanking hockey's most-prized trophy.
(Mike Bolt)
Dick Duff was recruited from Kirkland Lake for St. Mike's, joining the school and team in 1952-53. He led the Majors in scoring in 1953-54 (75 points) and 1954-55 (53 points). The Majors finished in the middle of the pack those years, but boasted alumni like Dick's brother Les, Frank Mahovlich and future Maple Leafs' GM, Gerry McNamara.

Leonard 'Red' Kelly also attended the all-boys' highschool. "My Dad, who originally had gone to St. Mike's way back, called St. Mike's. He knew some of the priests there and so he got me into St. Mike's." But joining the St. Mike's hockey team was easier said than done. "I tried out for the 'A' team and I was cut after one practice. I tried out for the 'B' team, and I was cut after one practice. I tried out for the midget team and I was cut after one practice. Now I'm out on the open-air rink playing with some of the teachers -- they were going through to be priests -- and one of them was an assistant to the coach of the midget team. After playing against him, he went to Father Flanagan and said, 'You'd better take another look at this guy.'" Kelly was added to the midget team, which won the championship that year (1943-44). Red graduated to the B team in 1944-45 and they won the championship. In 1945-46, playing with Major A Majors, St. Mike's went as far as the Memorial Cup final, but lost to Winnipeg.

Red Kelly and Dick Duff took the Stanley Cup to their alma mater, St. Michael's College, where they signed autographs for students and their families. (Mike Bolt)
Vengeance was sweet for St. Mike's. "The next year (1946-47), we won the Memorial Cup in four straight against Moose Jaw," recalls Red. That championship squad featured Hall of Famer Joe Primeau as coach, with Red Kelly and Benny Woit graduating to the Detroit Red Wings, Les Costello, Ray Hannigan, Fleming MacKell, Rudy Migay and Tod Sloan moving to the Maple Leafs and Ed Harrison and Ed Sandford off to the Boston Bruins. Another team member, Johnny McLellan, didn't get to the NHL but later coached the Maple Leafs.

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The Stanley Cup arrived at St. Michael's College just before noon on Thursday, June 23. All students and their families were invited to return to St. Mike's to meet Dick Duff, Red Kelly and get a photograph taken with the Stanley Cup. Duff and Kelly are two of the most decorated NHL veterans. Dickie Duff won the Stanley Cup with Toronto in 1962 and 1963, then followed with Stanley Cup celebrations with Montreal in 1965, 1966, 1968 and 1969. Red Kelly was recipient of the Stanley Cup with Detroit in 1950, 1952, 1954 and 1955, then followed with four more with the Maple Leafs — 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1967.

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Both Duff and Kelly celebrated the Toronto Maple Leafs' championship together in 1962 and got their names engraved for eternity on the Stanley Cup. (Dave Sandford/HHOF)
The first stop for the Stanley Cup was the teacher's lounge of the college, where staff had their pictures taken standing beside hockey's highest team award. The Cup was then carried to the arena where it was greeted in the Alumni Room by Mr. Duff and Mr. Kelly. The Stanley Cup winners happily met more than two hundred fans who lined up to get autographs and pictures with the Stanley Cup.

Duff and Kelly kibitzed about the Leafs dynasty. "In the last game (of the Stanley Cup final), I had my knee frozen and I passed out in the shower," began Red. "They took me to the hospital on a stretcher. Mr. Pearson (the prime minister) was at the game and he came into the dressing room and I didn't even get to see him. I was on crutches and didn't get to be part of any of the celebration. (Leaf owner) Harold Ballard brought the Cup and a couple bottles of champagne and a photographer out to my house and they took a picture of my family around the Cup. I put my newborn son Conn (named after former Leaf owner, Conn Smythe) in the Cup and they took a picture. And the look on Conn's face -- he did the whole load in the Cup! Our family always chuckles when they see guys drinking the champagne out of the Cup."

On Friday, the Stanley Cup will visit another champion; one of the greatest ever to play the game. Discover how Bobby Orr celebrated with the Cup this summer when you join us on the Stanley Cup Journal.

Kevin Shea is the Hockey Hall of Fame's Manager of Publishing and Editorial Services.

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