Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 27
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Shawn Thornton was drafted into the NHL by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1997. For an Oshawa boy living just east of the metropolis, this was a dream come true. But Shawn's career took him from the Leafs organization (he never got to pull on the Leafs' sweater at the NHL level) to the Chicago Black Hawks from 2002-03 until 2006-07, when he joined the Anaheim Ducks' organization.

Shawn began the season in the AHL, where he captained the Portland Pirates. But an injury to scrapper Todd Fedoruk meant a quick call to Portland to tell Thornton to pack his bags — he was head to Anaheim.

A year that began with the uncertainty of whether he'd play in the NHL finished with a season that saw Shawn play 48 games during the regular season, 15 more in the playoffs and culminated gulping victor's champagne from the bowl of the Stanley Cup.

Shawn Thornton's grandmother Maureen is rewarded for her continued support of her grandson throughout the 2007 playoffs. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Shawn had the Stanley Cup on Monday, August 13, and took it home to Oshawa. Met by Shawn, his wife Erin, their daughter Gracie, dog Dakota and friend Goalee from Virginia, it wasn't long before Baby Gracie was having her picture taken in the bowl of the Stanley Cup.

The Thorntons had a limo truck rented for the day, and were joined by Shawn's mother and father, Mark and Christine, and Erin's folks, Steve and Judy,

Stanley fills in as Thornton's caddy for a day as the Ducks' right winger tees off. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
The first stop was to take the Cup over to the retirement home in which his grandmother lives. Maureen is quite a character, and through the entire playoff run, insisted that everyone in the residence cheer for Anaheim and her grandson. Some of her housemates were likely afraid of what might happen, so begrudgingly cheered for the Ducks, but as the series went along, found they were thoroughly enjoying the experience!

Returning to the Thornton home, the group had a series of photographs taken to mark the occasion. After a stop at a local golf course with friends, with the Stanley Cup driven from hole to hole on a golf cart, Shawn took Lord Stanley's mug to The Keg, and enjoyed a fine meal with family as astonished onlookers gasped at seeing the Stanley Cup in Oshawa. Afterwards, it was off to the Waltzing Weasel, one of the Durham Region's most popular pubs. If you wanted to get your picture taken with the Stanley Cup, Shawn asked that you make a donation of any denomination that would be turned over to the Parkinson Society of Canada.

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Ric Jackman hangs out with the Stanley Cup at a Boston Pizza in Barrie, Ontario. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Ric Jackman was raised in Barrie, about an hour north of Toronto, and on Tuesday, August 14, he took the Stanley Cup home to meet his parents.

In a career that has had more twists and turns than a rollercoaster, Ric got to enjoy the rewards of persistence. Drafted in the first round of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft by the Dallas Stars, Ric has had stints with the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, and began the 2006-07 season with the Florida Panthers. In December, Jackman was placed on waivers by the Panthers, and was gobbled up in January by the Ducks, who saw a defenseman with size and a booming shot fitting nicely into their blueprint. Ric found a spot on the blueline with the Ducks, but back spasms almost robbed Ric of his chance at the Stanley Cup. Missing the last handful of regular season games, Jackman was out for all of Rounds One and Two and parts of the Conference Final against Detroit. But feeling healthy and strong coincided with a need to insert Ric into the line-up. In his first game in two months, Jackman scored a goal to help Anaheim to a 3-1 win over the Red Wings. In all, he got into seven playoff games on the march to the Stanley Cup. "Having a chance to play at the end where it's fun, and obviously to win the Stanley Cup, was real special," he stated.

The Stanley Cup arrived in Barrie in the latter part of the morning on Tuesday, August 14. Heading outside, for more than four hours, Ric posed with the Stanley Cup, greeting friends and neighbours as they came by to congratulate the champion. There were more people than Jackman expected, but he never let the smile leave his face once as the sun beat down on Barrie.

After the photos had been taken, Ric and the Cup went over to the Boston Pizza location on Bryne Drive. While his father-in-law's band entertained patrons, Jackman celebrated, signing autographs and sharing sips from the Cup with the patrons. The party continued until the wee hours of the morning.

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Anaheim Ducks tough guy Brad May and his family drop by his grandmother's home to show off the Stanley Cup. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
A veteran of the battles of fifteen NHL seasons, Brad May must have been haunted wondering whether he would ever have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup. But wonderful things happen to good people. After starting his sixteenth season, May was traded from Colorado to Anaheim on February 27, 2007. The Ducks clearly were looking at infusing some veteran savvy and moxy to their line-up, and came up with both in a package called Brad May.

When the Stanley Cup arrived at the Markham, Ontario home of Brad's Mom, Linell, on Wednesday, August 15, Brad had not yet arrived, but he showed up shortly afterwards, ready to start his celebration.

Brad first took the Stanley Cup to show his grandmother in Markham. There was a reception for Brad at Grace Anglican Church in Markham, the church attended by his mother and grandmother. Then, it was over to his father's house in Goodwood, a lovely home edging onto the Coppinwood Golf Club. While there, Brad visited his paternal grandmother in Uxbridge, then returned to the house where he saw a number of old friends, including George Burnett, who was his coach with the Niagara Falls Thunder. Over at the golf course, Brad set the Cup on display on the third tee, and members could get a picture with Lord Stanley's prize.

At the Duchess of Markham, Brad May (near) and former NHL'er Steve Thomas (far) coincidentally ran into each other. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
After lunch, it was over to the main street of Stouffville, where hundreds lined the street to catch a glimpse of Brad May and the Stanley Cup. "I just want to share it (the Stanley Cup)," said Brad. "It is so much greater than just us as hockey players. There's an idealism to winning the Stanley Cup, and in there is a fabric of Canada — being a kid, chasing a dream and celebrating when your friends succeed." He and his wife and their two children rode in a Corvette convertible the colour of the Stanley Cup. Led by the representatives from both the police and fire departments, the Mays laughed as they heard a recurring chant: "Stanley Cup, Lucky Duck!" Many along the parade route were wearing a specially designed t-shirt that read: May Day, August 15, 2007.

The parade route culminated in a huge gathering of fans at Bruce's Mill Conservation Area, where close to 2,000 people congregated at the Community Safety Village to see Brad and his Cup. The day was declared 'Brad May Day', and politicians talked about the ideal role model Brad portrays to local youth. York Region Police Chief Armand LaBarge gave Brad a ballcap, after congratulating him on his success, then posed for a photo with the Duck and his Cup.

That evening, Brad took the Stanley Cup to the Duchess of Markham, an outstanding bar housed in a heritage building in the beautiful town of Markham. Coincidentally, Brad ran into former NHL sniper Steve Thomas while there. Steve, who played with the Markham Waxers at the time he had a role in the Rob Lowe hockey movie 'Youngblood,' lives in the area, but couldn't stay to celebrate with May as his son had a soccer practice.

Brad May prepares to fly in style via his personal helicopter nicknamed "May Day" toward Muskoka Woods camp. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
After a few pints and many toasts with highschool pals, it was back to Stouffville and a visit to the Crossroads Restaurant on Main Street. Keith Acton, the former NHL star and an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs (and a Stanley Cup champion with the Oilers in 1988), just happened to be there, and wished Brad his heartiest congratulations. Many of May's childhood teammates from the Stouffville area congregated to celebrate with their long-time friend.

Thursday, August 16 meant a roadtrip for Brad and the Stanley Cup. May took the Cup up to his cottage on Lake Joseph in Ontario's extraordinary Muskoka region. Imagine rising to the faint cry of a loon in a sun-drenched cottage surrounded by wilderness. Life doesn't get much better! Add drinking freshly-brewed coffee with the Stanley Cup placed on the table in front of you and it's as though you have died and have gone to hockey heaven.

With the last of the coffee drained from the pot, Brad climbed into a black helicopter with 'May Day' and an image of the Stanley Cup on its side, was handed the Cup and took off for Muskoka Woods, a Christian camp where youngsters between 7 and 17 participate in all manner of sports and activities. Greeted by a constant 'Quack, quack, quack,' Brad spoke with the campers and let them get pictures taken with the Stanley Cup.

Then, May took the Cup across the street to a special place called Camp Oochigeas. Princess Oochigeas was a young girl who showed great courage in overcoming some physical challenges. The camp has borrowed the name of the brave princess for its own purposes. Camp Oochigeas gives children challenged by cancer a place to briefly escape from the routine of doctors and hospitals and experience a 400-acre wilderness along with other children facing the same obstacles. Brad sat with the children, spoke with them and showed a side that belies the player we so often see on the ice. The children adored May, clinging to him like ugly on an ape.

Brad May and his wife Brigitte hoist the Cup at en entrepreneur's cottage in Muskoka. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
After waving goodbye to his new friends, Brad hoisted the Stanley Cup over his head, leaving an indelible impression on the youngsters at Camp Oochigeas. At that point, a motor boat took Brad and the Stanley Cup over to the incredible cottage of Bob Genovese, an entrepreneur. 'Roughing it' has a whole different connotation to Genovese, who used his manmade waterfall as a spectacular backdrop to photos with Brad May and the Stanley Cup. Quite a party was taking place, with hockey celebrities Wendel Clark, Don Lever and agents Don Meehan and Pat Morris in attendance. The Stanley Cup's cousin was there, too. The owner of the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League, Michael Andlauer, is a neighbour of Brad's on Lake Joseph, and had the Calder Cup there with him following Hamilton's championship win last spring. It's very rare to have both the Calder and Stanley Cups together, so the photographs were fast and furious capturing the two, side-by-side, there on Lake Joseph.

Two days of celebrating sadly came to an end for Brad May. "I don't think you can ever match the emotion you share with your teammates on that night (when the Stanley Cup is awarded), but this has been nice," May summarized. "It's an unbelievable feeling to actually touch people and put some smiles on some faces."

Brad May certainly did that!

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The Stanley Cup Journal catches up with the coaches when we next meet. Join Randy Carlyle and Dave Farrish right here on Friday as we get to watch the Stanley Cup celebrations.

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).

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