Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 12
The Stanley Cup Journal

After 18 seasons, Hurricanes' defenseman Glen Wesley finally will get to have his name added to the Stanley Cup. Glen poses with the realization of his childhood dreams here at his North Carolina home. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
The Stanley Cup flew into Raleigh, North Carolina just before 11AM on Thursday, July 13, ready to spend a couple of days with Hurricanes' defenseman Glen Wesley. Wesley, who just completed his 18th NHL season, and eighth with Carolina, had withstood 1,311 regular season NHL contests before finally earning the opportunity to cradle hockey's biggest prize, and wasn't going to waste a second of his time with the Stanley Cup.

There to meet the Stanley Cup were Glen, his wife Barb, and their children Amanda, Matt and Josh. Glen and Barb were highschool sweethearts in Red Deer, Alberta and have now been married 18 years.

The five Wesleys drove with the Stanley Cup to Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, a military base the family regularly drives past on their way to the beach. Located about two and a half hours from Raleigh, the Wesleys felt that taking the Stanley Cup to the Wounded Warriors at Camp Lejeune would give them the opportunity to personally and appropriately thank the Marines for their service on behalf of the country.

Camp Lejeune, named to commemorate the efforts made in World War I by Major General John A. Lejeune, was built during the early skirmishes of the Second World War to prepare Marines for battle. At the time, the camp was little more than a stretch of beach along the Atlantic Ocean bordered by a pine forest. Today, Camp Lejeune is a 246-square mile military training facility that boasts a population of nearly 150,000 people.

These heroic 'Wounded Warriors' are receiving rehabilitation, yet several dream of the day that they might return to their units in the Middle East and continue protecting the country, and people, they love. (LCpl James P McLaughlin)
Glen, Barb and the kids were escorted to the barracks to meet several young men wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq and who are receiving physical and/or mental rehabilitation. As Glen stepped through the doors, holding the Stanley Cup over his head in triumph, the Marines exploded in excitement. They clapped, hooted and hollered. Those who question the impact that hockey and the Stanley Cup have made on the southern United States need only have witnessed the spontaneous outpouring of enthusiasm exhibited by the wounded Marines at Camp Lejeune.

Wesley placed Lord Stanley's Cup on a table. After some Stanley Cup history was presented, Glen opened the floor to questions from the Marines.

"How many beers will the Cup hold?" The crowd roared, and after a question like that opened the proceedings, all knew it was going to be a fun afternoon. Oh, by the way, the answer is fourteen.

Other questions included whether Glen still has all his own teeth ("Yeah, surprisingly, I do," came Wesley's response) and "What was the best fight you ever were in?" Glen smiled and said there've been too many to pick just one.

Glen took the Cup to Camp Lejeune in order to meet the 'Wounded Warriors.' These brave Marines, veterans of the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan, showed equal measures of courage and humour in the face of challenges as they celebrated with Wesley and the Stanley Cup. (LCpl James P McLaughlin)
What easily could have been a somber afternoon was, surprisingly, not like that at all. Each of the 43 Marines who make up the Wounded Warriors was injured abroad while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. After they had exhausted questions to him, Glen turned the tables and asked the boys what they had witnessed and how they had received their wounds. They were quick with a joke and not afraid at all to discuss their injuries. Several of the heroes had lost limbs, three had lost an eye. Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Maxwell, the founder of the Wounded Warriors, stepped up and prompted his crew to tell Glen and his family how they "got whacked." He himself was injured by a mortar blast in Iraq in 2004. Some were injured by suicide bombers. Others were near a bomb when it exploded. One Marine explained, "I got more metal in my leg than a hardware store!"

No one was pitied. All busted each others' chops. There were more one-liners than at a celebrity roast. These boys proved, unconditionally, that they love and respect each other, and depend on each other for their rehabilitation.

"You're not allowed to sit around and whine," explained Maxwell. "You can cry. Crying is okay. Whining is definitely not."

As much as the Hurricanes are Stanley Cup heroes, their star defensemen and his family met some real heroes on Thursday.

Each of the boys excitedly got his picture taken with the Stanley Cup. Glen was only too happy to shake their hands and sign pucks for the group.

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Later that afternoon, the Stanley Cup was taken to the Wesleys' beach house. Barb had handled the interior design and done an extraordinary job. Glen and his family had pictures taken at various spots in the house, then strode into the nearby Atlantic Ocean up to their knees, holding the Cup aloft.

The family took the Stanley Cup over to their church to show members of the congregation, their families and friends. Again, a brief history on the trophy was offered and parishioners scrambled to get their pictures taken with Glen and the Stanley Cup.

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The Wesley family returned to their Cary, North Carolina home about 10:30 that evening, and was greeted by Glen's Mom, stepfather, brother, sister, nephews, nieces, friends and neighbours. Glen could only laugh as his step-Dad showed no fear (or remorse) in proclaiming his love for the Edmonton Oilers. Funny, but he wasn't included in a lot of the family photos!

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Growing up in Red Deer, Glen Wesley idolized the Gretzky-era Oilers, but took great delight in beating that same franchise in the 2006 Stanley Cup final. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Back home in Cary on Friday, July 14, Glen took the Stanley Cup to a local chiropractor while his Mom had a little work done. Then, it was over to a friendly local car dealership to show the sales and the service crews the grand prize. Friends and fans showed up at the dealership and one salesperson later called Glen, all excited, to say, "Thanks a million, Glen. Not only did I get to have my picture taken with the Stanley Cup, but I sold a car to a 'Canes fan!"

Glen took the Cup back to his house for photos with the family around the pool. Then, it was over to Colonial Baptist Church in southeastern Cary for an exciting afternoon at the church where the family worships. Almost 4,000 crowded onto the church grounds. After viewing a terrific video that incorporated both action highlights and an interview conducted by Pastor David Loftis, the assembled multitude lined up for the opportunity to get a photograph with Glen and the Stanley Cup. When Wesley stepped into the church, he reeled, never imagining that that many people would come to meet him. Regrettably, time did not permit every single attendee in getting a photograph, but there was not a person who didn't get a greeting from the Carolina defenseman through the afternoon.

Back at the Wesley home, 80 or so people celebrated Glen's victory. They watched the Hurricanes DVD 'The Champions,' then had pictures taken inside and outside the house. Food and drink, as you might imagine, were a big part of the celebration. The kids got a real treat when the historic bowl was filled with a gigantic ice cream sundae. "Grab a spoon and dig in," implored Glen. Unlike household chores, it's amazing that the kids didn't need to be told twice!

Lord Stanley's Cup was later placed on the counter in the Wesley kitchen, and Glen reminisced about former teammates who already had their names engraved on the Cup. He then rubbed his finger over the name of his childhood hero — Wayne Gretzky — who has his name inscribed on the Cup four times from his days in Edmonton. As an aspiring player in Red Deer, the Oilers were Glen's team of choice back then, but out of necessity, any warmth towards the city and its team certain disappeared quickly from the opening faceoff of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

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Friday at 5 in the afternoon, the Stanley Cup was packed away, ready to join general manager Jim Rutherford's celebration. You'll read about a day that can't be beaten in the GM's Stanley Cup Journal on Friday.

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Kevin Shea is the Hockey Hall of Fame's Editor of Publications and On-Line Content.
His biography on Lord Frederick Stanley, 'LORD STANLEY-THE MAN BEHIND THE CUP,'
will be published in October 2006 by Fenn Publishing.
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