Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 19
The Stanley Cup Journal

Martin Gerber needs no 'alp' lifting the Stanley Cup over his head in triumph as he returns to his homeland of Switzerland. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Armed with a passport that would see plenty of activity over the next week, the Stanley Cup arrived in Zurich, Switzerland on Monday, July 30 as the guest of netminder Martin Gerber.

This was not the first visit to Switzerland for the Stanley Cup. In 2001, following Colorado's exciting Stanley Cup triumph, goaltender David Aebischer was the first to take the Cup to the Alps. But the trip never gets tired, no matter how often it is made, and the Swiss were excited and most genial hosts to hockey's championship mug.

Pleased to return home, the Carolina netminder was anxious to get pictures with the Cup at some of Switzerland's historic sites, including this ancient bridge. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Gerber made his NHL debut with Anaheim in 2002 and spent two seasons as a Duck. It was his good fortune to join Carolina in 2005-06. As the Hurricanes' primary goaltender through the entire campaign, he was replaced by back-up Cam Ward during the first-round playoff series with Montreal, and the rest, as they say, is history. "It's never fun to be watching," admitted the affable Gerber, "but Cam played great. He was unbelievably hot." Nonetheless, Martin Gerber will have his name engraved on hockey's cherished chalice as a member of the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes.Gerber has mixed emotions, though. He will not be in Raleigh's RBC Center this October when the team hoists the Stanley Cup banner to the rafters. Martin will be in the crease for the Ottawa Senators that evening, hoping, like teammate Cory Stillman, to take his Stanley Cup luck to his new home in Canada's capital.

Arriving at the airport, Gerber received the Stanley Cup and took it to a VIP room, where family, friends and a horde of journalists welcomed Martin and the Stanley Cup to Switzerland.

Once upon a time, in a land not unfamiliar to many, a small boy learned the rudimentary skills of tending goal, never dreaming that one day he might return, holding the Stanley Cup. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
After interviews and photos, Gerber loaded the Cup onto a limousine bus for the ride to Langnau, not far from Burgdorf, his birthplace. Langnau is a fabulously picturesque city, with an array of church spires with Swiss clocks and chimes, covered bridges and locals who nod and say "guten morgen" as you pass by. Martin was giddy as a teenager on his first date as he returned to his hometown, securing photos on a landmark bridge in the town. While there, some tourists stopped, their jaws practically bouncing off the pavement. "My God, we live in Ajax, Ontario (Canada) and have to come halfway around the world to see the Stanley Cup in person!" Shortly after pictures were taken with the tourists, a couple from North Carolina shook their heads in amazement. "Is that what I think it is?" Sure enough, it was, and Martin Gerber was only too happy to say hello to the incredulous couple.

Gerber then took the Stanley Cup to Wilhem Tell, a floating restaurant on Lake Lucerne, where family and friends, including members of the Swiss National Team, enjoyed champagne and hors d'oeuvres in view of the Cup.

Back on the bus, Martin and the Stanley Cup visited the arena in which he played as a youngster. A catered barbecue was held outside the rink, and featured twelve different kinds of meat. Twelve different kinds of meat!

Along with family, friends and teammates from the Swiss National Hockey Team, Martin Gerber celebrated with a drink that is as universal as the love of the Stanley Cup. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Martin and his girlfriend then took the Stanley Cup to Hotel Hirschen, where 1,200 fans had lined up to meet Gerber and get a photograph with the Cup. The line began outside the hotel, snaked through the lobby and past a display that honoured the goaltender and his accomplishments with photos and artifacts. The line then continued to where Martin and the Cup were seated within the hotel. While at the Hotel Hirschen, another press conference took place.

After smiling and signing for a couple of hours, it was off to the town square, where another 1,200 Swiss fans crowded the area and clapped with great enthusiasm as speeches were made honouring Martin. A special roar went up when Gerber was presented with a proclamation.

After the official business was completed, Gerber retreated to the hotel with his girlfriend for a private party that included friends and family. The festivities went all night, although the Stanley Cup could only stay until 3:30, when it returned to Zurich, ready to continue the European tour with a flight to Kiev, Ukraine.

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Next Tuesday, join Anton Babchuk in the Ukraine and Oleg Tverdovsky in Russia as the pages turn in the Stanley Cup Journal.

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Kevin Shea is the co-author of 'Lord Stanley-The Man Behind the Cup,' a biography on the man who
donated hockey's historic trophy. The book will be published by H.B. Fenn & Company in October 2006.
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