Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 10

On the evening of Sunday, June 22, the Stanley Cup was boarded into a ten-passenger plane in Detroit and flown to Bay Harbor, near the tip of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, some 280 miles (454 kilometres) from Detroit.

It would be near impossible for the first-time visitor to conceive that this charming and elegant community on Lake Michigan once was blighted by a dust-spewing cement plant, but for the better part of a century, mining and cement were the principal industries in the area. But after the plant closed in the 1980's, a concerted effort by local government converted 2.5 million cubic yards of kiln dust into an extraordinary reclamation project of which Michiganders should be exceedingly proud.

Shortly after 11:30 that evening, the plane touched down at Harbor Springs Airport, and out popped the Red Wings' Darren McCarty with the Stanley Cup. "Here it is, boys," he shouted, hoisting the trophy over his head. There, waiting for the Cup, was McCarty's teammate and dear friend Kris Draper, as well as a small group of friends.

The lead 'shouter' of Grinder, the band in which McCarty performs, carefully handed hockey's Holy Grail to Draper, and the entourage headed off to Teddy Griffin's Roadhouse.

Darren McCarty arrives via a ten-passenger plane in
Bay Harbor, Michigan. (Bill Wellman/HHOF).
The owner, Joe Griffin (the bar is named after his son), is a monster Red Wings fan, and has his bar decorated in red and white memorabilia, including photos of Detroit legends like Lindsay and Howe. But for that night, the patrons cared about just one thing: "We want the Cup! We want the Cup! We want the Cup!" they chanted, and their patience was rewarded as McCarty and Draper carried Lord Stanley's legacy into the crowded bar just in front of midnight.

Griffin, Draper and McCarty filled the bowl of the Cup with beer, and until 3:00AM, guests got to sip from the greatest beer stein ever created, and on this memorable evening, they partied like….well, partied like they did when the Wings won the Cup in 1997, 1998 and 2002.

At oh-my-God o'clock, the Stanley Cup was packed away and taken by Draper to a fabulous nearby hotel, tiptoeing in so not to disturb his wife and kids.

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Kris Draper and his 6-year-old son Kienan hone their hockey skills with Stanley. (Bill Wellman/HHOF).
The friendship between McCarty and Draper is special. The friendship is forever forged by having their names linked on four Stanley Cup championships in Detroit, but this year, it took on a deeper significance yet.

After the championship in 2002, Darren played in Calgary for two seasons and suffered a number of personal setbacks. To start the 2007-08 season, he didn't even have a team, and was out of hockey until December 2007. McCarty and Draper met over lunch and talked about their lives, and Darren expressed interest in returning to hockey. When Kris asked him how serious he was about returning, McCarty vowed to make every effort possible to rejoin the Red Wings.

Draper insisted that McCarty get back in shape, and set him up at CORE, a sports fitness facility he co-owns. Kris then agreed to arrange for a minor league contract with the Flint Generals of the International Hockey League, a team in which he has a financial stake.

McCarty worked hard both on and off the ice, and in March, he was summoned to join the Red Wings. "To get him back on the team was exciting, not only for me as a friend, but for him as well, considering everything he's been through," explained Draper. "When we won the Cup, he jumped onto the ice and skated up to me and said, 'Thanks!' To me, that really meant a lot." Kris added, "You have to remember that in November, he wasn't even playing hockey, and by June, he's a Stanley Cup champion again. That's just great."

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That's one way to get your children to eat their breakfast. Kris Drapper's son Kienan and daughter Kennedi enjoy a bowl of Fruit Loops out of the bowl of the Stanley Cup. (Bill Wellman/HHOF)
On Monday, June 23, the Stanley Cup became the greatest cereal bowl ever imagined, when 8-year-old Kennedi and 6-year-old Kienan Draper ate Fruit Loops from the bowl. Baby Kamryn Rose, born two days before the commencement of the Stanley Cup final, looked on with envy, but hoped her Dad would win another championship or two in Detroit so she, too, could eat cereal out of the Cup.

Kris then took the Stanley Cup down to the waterfront so that local fans and hotel staff could get a look at hockey's biggest prize.

That afternoon, the Stanley Cup was flown back to Detroit, and was prepared for a party beyond compare as part of the International Freedom Festival.

Detroit, Michigan and neighbouring Windsor, Ontario share a border (the Detroit River), and collaboratively, celebrate their respective countries' birthdays (Canada Day is July 1st and Independence Day, July 4th) with a gigantic celebration called the International Freedom Festival. Traditionally, more than 3 million people celebrate the multi-day festival, which is kicked off with one of the most massive (and impressive) fireworks displays staged anywhere in the world. The fireworks are set off from barges in the Detroit River, so that spectators on either side of the water can view the spectacular event.

Prior to the fireworks, the Stanley Cup was taken to a party for 700 Joe Louis Arena suiteholders staged in a multi-level parking garage that had been impressively converted into a multi-level party. Guests enjoyed food and drink and photographs with the Red Wings' finest silverware — the Stanley Cup.

At dusk, the fireworks began. "Ooooh! Aaaaaah!" For a trophy that has been around the world several times, seen the greatest sights and met the most wonderful people, the Stanley Cup couldn't help but be impressed by the dazzling and delightful pyrotechnics.

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June 24, a Tuesday, began with Chris Ilitch, vice-president of the Detroit Red Wings, taking the Stanley Cup to News/Talk 760, WJR, a perennial powerhouse in Detroit's competitive radio market. Morning announcer Paul W. Smith welcomed Chris and his Cup and chatted about the importance of the win for Detroit. In their conversation, Ilitch stated, "This is the championship for the entire community and as such, we are working very hard to get the Stanley Cup out to the people." He then added, "It really is about inspiratiion. Our intent is to use the Stanley Cup to really show the people of this region that, like their team, through hard work, teamwork and perseverance, we can accomplish anything."

Next, the Stanley Cup was again polished and preened for a visit to City Hall, where Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams greeted the prize Detroit had claimed earlier in the month. Although Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was not able to be there, the elected officials present got an up close and personal look at hockey's championship trophy.

That evening, Jennings Trophy co-recipient Chris Osgood, one of the 2008 playoff heroes, took the Stanley Cup to a local Irish pub. "It's going to be a small affair," he suggested. "I invited about twenty-five people." Oh my! Each told a friend, who then told another friend, and when Chris and the Cup arrived, the pub was more loaded than a few of the patrons. Nevertheless, a great (and safe) time was enjoyed by all.

* * *

The Cup sits under the magnificent grand dome of the Michigan State Capital Building in Lansing, Michigan.
(Bill Wellman/HHOF)
The itinerary for Wednesday included a trip to Lansing, the state capital and sixth largest city in Michigan.The grand dome of the State Capital Building is magnificent, and inside, the welcome was equally warm and wonderful. Chris Ilitch again spoke effusively about the significance of this Stanley Cup championship on a state that is facing sizeable hurdles. His words were emotional, and welcomed by those in attendance.

Afterwards, is was back to Detroit, and a special visit to Cheli's Chili Bar. But rather than a riotous celebration, this visit was decidedly different. Chris Chelios, the owner of the restaurant, made the Stanley Cup's trip to his restaurant this time an occasion to reflect on the memories of some members of his extended family. In 2007, two employees of Cheli's Chili Bar, Mark Barnard and Megan Soroka, were murdered. Then, as if the Cheli's family hadn't suffered enough, in late May, assistant manager Brandon Rotz drowned. Chelios used the occasion to thank his staff for holding things together. "I feel so sorry for the families, but this kind of helps a little bit and soothes the losses a little. But in the end, they're still not here." He then asked all the staff to always remember their former co-workers.

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Stanley goes to camp. Campers at YWCA Camp Cavell were thrilled to welcome hockey's ultimate prize. (Bill Wellman/HHOF)
The campers at YWCA Camp Cavell were beside themselves with excitement on Thursday, June 26. Whispers turned to screams of excitement: "The Stanley Cup is coming to visit Camp Cavell!" It was no rumour — escorted onto the grounds of the camp by a golf cart, the Stanley Cup arrived in Lexington, Michigan, an outstanding site 90 miles (145 kilometres) north of Detroit on sparkling Lake Huron. The Stanley Cup was a very special treat for campers suffering from Muscular Dystrophy, as well as the volunteers and the youngsters attending day camp at Camp Cavell. The worst-kept secret in Lexington was divulged by the sea of red and white jerseys and t-shirts that greeted the Stanley Cup upon its arrival.

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On Tuesday, Canadians will celebrate Canada Day by enjoying meals of back bacon with maple syrup, dropping loonies into ceramic Mountie banks, petting beavers and reading Stanley Cup Journal entries about the Stanley Cup's visits with Aaron Downey and Kyle Quincey. Hope you'll join us!

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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