Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 10
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After a long, dark ride from Dryden, Ontario following Chris Pronger's day of celebration, the Stanley Cup spent Thursday, June 28 in Bemidji, Minnesota as the special guest of Joe Motzko.

The expression, 'Timing is everything' couldn't have been more appropriate to the hockey career of Joe Motzko. After starring with the St. Cloud State University Huskies, where he led the team in scoring and earned MVP honours in his senior year, Joe was signed as a free agent by the Columbus Blue Jackets, joining the NHL club during the 2003-04 campaign. But while spending most of the time in the AHL, there was light on the horizon when the Anaheim Ducks picked up Motzko, Mark Hartigan and a draft pick from the Blue Jackets in return for Curtis Glencross, Zenon Konopka and a draft choice on January 26, 2007. Little did Joe (or anyone else) realize how bright that light on the horizon would be!

Motzko finished the season with the AHL Portland Pirates. Figuring his hockey season was over, Joe was prepared to pack his skates and head home when he got a call to report to Detroit, as the Ducks may be in need of his talents. Joe made his Duck debut on May 20 in a 2-1 overtime win over the Red Wings, and even got himself on the scoresheet, drawing a holding minor in the third period.

Anaheim Ducks forward Joe Motzko hoists the Stanley Cup at the entrance of his home town; Bemidji, Minnesota. (Bill Wellman/HHOF)

Joe played again against Detroit on May 22, and then got the opportunity to play in the Stanley Cup Final when he was summoned to join the Ducks in a 3-2 win over Ottawa on June 4.

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After crossing the Canadian/U.S. border at International Falls, where the customs agent was so incredulous that the big blue case contained the Stanley Cup, she insisted on seeing for herself, hockey's 'big prize' continued on to Bemidji, Minnesota, home of Joe Motzko.

Bemidji is a First Nations word meaning 'lake with cross waters,' and it couldn't be more appropriate, as the Mississippi River crosses Lake Bemidji, and the town of Bemidji is near the source of the 'Mighty Mississipp'' as it snakes it way through the heartland of the United States on a 2,552-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico.

Joe Motzko and the Stanley Cup were both welcome guests at Slim's Bar and Grill in; Bemidji, Minnesota. (Bill Wellman/HHOF)
Joe Motzko started June 28 by having photographs taken with a handful of family and friends. They began at the 'Welcome to Bemidji' sign at the entrance to the city of 12,000 residents. Further stops included Joe's former high school, businesses owned by a couple of buddies and the golf course at which he's a member. At the tourist information centre in Bemidji stand two gigantic statues, one of legendary lumberjack Paul Bunyan and the other of his pet Ox, Blue, reminding residents and visitors of the area's lore and legends. Motzko ensured that there were photos taken with Bunyan, Blue and Lord Stanley's legacy.

In the afternoon, Motzko made a requisite stop at Slim's Bar and Grill, stopping long enough for the locals visiting the favourite watering hole to experience the Stanley Cup, then left straight for a local rink where, for two hours, Joe signed autographs while the Stanley Cup posed for pictures.

The Stanley Cup accompanied by Joe Motzko made a special stop at the tourist information centre and posed for a photo with legendary lumberjack Paul Bunyan and his pet Ox, Blue. It was the second time in as many years the Cup visited Paul Bunyan and his pet Ox as Carolina's Director of Pro Scouting Marshall Johnston brought hockey ultimate prize home last summer. (Bill Wellman/HHOF)
From 3:00 until 9, Joe's mother and father hosted a Stanley Cup celebration for 200 at their home right on Lake Bemidji. Joe took the Stanley Cup out on a pontoon boat where friends and neighbours enjoyed drinks from the bowl of the Cup. Hoover, one of Joe's buddies, pulled out his guitar and composed hilarious songs about Joe and the Cup.

A large sign out front of Slim's notified locals 'SEE JOE MOTZKO WITH STANLEY CUP', and that's where the evening ended. On a good night, Slim's hosts 20-25 guests, but the lure of the Stanley Cup, returning to Bemidji with Joe Motzko, brought out a capacity crowd of revellers anxious to see hockey's greatest reward. At 1AM, the Stanley Cup made its exit with Motzko, got one last hoist and kiss, and was off on its next adventure.

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Ducks' rookie Ryan Carter had the Cup next, and for an account of his day in White Bear Lake, Minnesota (and a special sidetrip he made while there), you'll need to join us here Friday for another chapter in the Stanley Cup Journal.

Kevin Shea is one of the contributors to 'Travels With Stanley' by The Keepers of the Cup, a book of geography and history lessons taught through the travels of the Stanley Cup (Fenn Publishing).

All Photographs are property of the Hockey Hall of Fame and may not be reproduced without prior written consent. For more information regarding use of our photographs please contact us.

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