Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 29

Detroit Red Wing's European Scout Vladimir Havluj speaks to the crowd of media at Prague Airport. (Phil Pritchard/HHOF)
If there was any doubt about the worldwide popularity of the Stanley Cup, it was extinguished after leaving Finland and flying into the Czech Republic on Wednesday, August 6. There to greet the world's foremost hockey trophy was Vladimir Havluj, Detroit's Prague-based European scout.

Arriving at Prague Airport, the Stanley Cup was mobbed by media members, snapping photographs and firing questions at Havluj, now the recipient of four Stanley Cup championships. While journalists crowded the busy airport, newlyweds Paul and Lisa Landry walked through customs and were ready to begin their honeymoon, but craned their necks to see what the commotion was all about. Spotting the Stanley Cup, the besotted couple were incredulous. "We've never seen the Stanley Cup while in Canada, and here we are, half a world away, and we run into the Stanley Cup," they laughed. "And the reaction here is the same as it would be at home!"

From the Czech capital, the Cup was driven with Havluj to Kladno, and the arena there. Where once Jaromir Jagr tore up the icelanes, today, a private reception was held to celebrate Detroit's championship.

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The Cup was taken back to Prague, then on to Pardubice, about an hour-and-a-half away, in the company of Jakub Kindl. A first round draft pick in 2005, Kindl has yet to make his NHL debut, but his development with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins bodes well for an imminent inauguration.

Jakub Kindl gathers with dignitaries from the city of Pardubice as well as staff from HC Moeller Pardubice. (Phil Pritchard/HHOF)

The Pardubice hockey club, along with dignitaries from the city, held a lunch for the young defenceman, after which, Kindl took the Stanley Cup to his hometown — Sumperk — about two hours away. There, the Cup was put on display outside the city square for local fans to see up close and personal. But curiously, Jakub refused to touch the Stanley Cup through his entire time with the trophy. "I cannot pick up the Stanley Cup because I did nothing to earn it," he stated sincerely. "But one day; one day I will help Detroit win the Stanley Cup, and then, I will only be too happy to lift the Cup!"

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Jiri Hudler (left) joins teammates Dominik Hasek (centre) and Tomas Kopecky (right) on a horse-drawn carriage.
(Mike Bolt/HHOF)
That afternoon, Jiri Hudler took possession of the Stanley Cup, and took it into the mountains in the eastern side of the Czech Republic to historic Moravia. There, in Vsetin, Jiri met up with family and friends at a bed and breakfast in. The B&B had a wonderful wine cellar, and the celebrants toasted Hudler with a traditional alcoholic drink indigenous to that area made from plums and aged 10-15 years.

The next day, a horse-drawn carriage awaited Jiri on the top of the mountain, and joined by teammates Dominik Hasek, Tomas Kopecky and scout Vladimir Havluj, they took the Stanley Cup into town, greeted in the square by thousands of fans.

Following the celebration, Hudler took the Stanley Cup to Olomouc, his hometown, where another celebration was held in the shadow of the St. Wenceslas Cathedral. That night, Jiri hosted a private dinner at the local tennis club, which coincidentally, was hosting the Under-14 tennis tournament. Afterwards, Hudler took the Cup out on the town, visiting several businesses and a number of restaurants, all the while expressing his pride in being part of a Stanley Cup-winning team. Although the Czech Republic is close to his heart, he spent the entire summer in Malibu, working out with Chris Chelios, and only returned to his homeland for a week so he could bring the Stanley Cup home.

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Dominik Hasek takes his turn with the Cup on Friday, when the Stanley Cup Journal returns.

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

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