Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 2009, 04

Philippe Boucher was greeted by guests at his cottage in Lac St. Joseph, QC.
(Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
The Stanley Cup arrived in Quebec City at 6:00PM on Saturday, July 4, ready to spend a day with Philippe Boucher, the Penguins’ steady, veteran blueliner. Met by Boucher’s brother-in-law as well as a family friend, the Stanley Cup was driven through a grey, drizzly day towards Lac St-Joseph, where Philippe and his family own a cottage. But as if by Divine Intervention, as the Cup was nearing its destination, the skies cleared and the rain stopped.

The party of 200 was already in full swing when the Stanley Cup arrived. Philippe hurried the trophy into the cottage so he could get family pictures taken. Philippe, wife Lucie and children Mathieu and Vanessa posed with the glorious championship silverware, then enjoyed a drink out of the Cup.

Boucher sharing a moment with the Cup on his boat. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
Philippe descended the stairs with the Stanley Cup held aloft as the revellers greeted the champion and his reward. Speaking in French, Boucher thanked everyone present for their ongoing support, then everyone dug into delicious smoked meat sandwiches and cheesecake.

Several NHL players were among the invited guests at Philippe’s party. Penguins’ netminder Mathieu Garon was there to share the celebration with his teammate. Eric Belanger, who spent last season with the Minnesota Wild, was at the party. He had played with Philippe in Los Angeles with the Kings. Stephane Robidas and Junior Lessard, both teammates of Boucher’s with the Dallas Stars, were there, too. Also there was Marc Chouinard, who spent last season playing in Germany.

Boucher's daughter Vanessa enjoying some Fruit Loops for breakfast.
(Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
Hockey players are extraordinarily superstitious, and the long-held belief that players not touch the Stanley Cup until they’ve actually won it is widely kept as virtual law. But Eric Belanger was particularly amusing. Although he refused to touch the Cup, he teased over and over again, putting his fingers close and then drawing them back quickly. Even when he was having his photo taken with the Cup, he put his arms around the Cup making it appear that he was touching the trophy but made certain he maintained a minute distance between him and the Cup.

Prior to taking the helicopter from Lac St. Joseph across the river to Levis Boucher and his wife Lucie along with their children Mathieu and Vanessa gather for a family picture. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
Stephane Robidas inadvertently touched the Cup and thought, to hell with it and fully grasped it. "Ah, this feels really good. I could learn to like this when Dallas wins the Cup this year," he said to derisive taunts from the Penguins’ fans in attendance.

Philippe and some of the boys decided to take the Stanley Cup for a boat ride. Piling into one of two vessels — a motor boat and a pontoon boat — they floated out into the middle of the lake, where they anchored and traded hockey stories.

Philippe earlier had been asked if he would bring the Cup to a local reception, but politely declined as he had already made his own plans. But sound travels amazingly well on a lake, and when he heard a party in progress around 1:30 that morning, thought it was likely the party he had been asked to attend so decided he’d drop in with the Stanley Cup. When the boys arrived, they discovered that the party was, in fact, a wedding reception. "I feel like that movie ‘Wedding Crashers,’" he laughed. Boucher, the Cup and the newly-wed bride and groom posed for photos that will assuredly be the highlight of the couple’s wedding album.

Philippe and his son Mathieu ride along with the Stanley Cup in a parade held in Boucher's hometown of St- Apollinaire, QC. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
The boys took the boats back to the cottage where they celebrated until 4:00 in the morning. Eleven-year-old Mathieu stayed up with his Dad and friends right until the end. "I am so proud of him," smiled Philippe.

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Sunday morning, July 5, began with Mathieu and Vanessa eating their Fruit Loops out of the historic bowl of the Stanley Cup. Mathieu was telling his Mom and Dad facts about the Stanley Cup that left the couple shaking their heads in astonishment. "He was telling me stuff about the Cup I didn’t know," stated Philippe.

The Pens’ defenceman took the Stanley Cup to a local church where he met the mayor of Lac St-Joseph and had pictures taken. Nearby, a helicopter landed in a vacant field, readied to take Philippe and the Cup across the river to Levis and Club de Golf la Tempete, a golf course owned in part by Boucher.

Boucher proudly hoisting the Cup during the parade held in his hometown of St-Apollinaire, QC. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
After visiting the golf club, Philippe prepared for a parade in his honour scheduled for his hometown, St-Apollinaire. When he arrived, the parade route, which started on avenue Boucher ("No, it’s not named after me," laughed Philippe, "although many people think it is!") was already lined with people, including family, friends and former classmates. The parade slowly moved along as Boucher said hello to friends and fans. "Oh look, there’s 43 Boucher! I should have grown up in that house!" As he moved along the parade route, Philippe sprayed champagne on the crowd in celebration.

The afternoon had a fundraising element to it. In 1997, Philippe initiated his own foundation to raise money for children in need ( and a good deal of money was raised for such a noble cause. More than a thousand people, gathered in groups, got their pictures taken with St-Apollinaire’s local boy made good.

Hungry, Philippe then took the Stanley Cup through a McDonald’s drive-thru, followed by a quick visit to his in-laws’ home.

Philippe took the opportunity to pose with the Cup and some of the supporters who came out to help raise funds for the Philippe Boucher Foundation.
(Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
The final event of a terrific celebration was a banquet for 200 at one of Quebec City’s finest restaurants, Chez Maurice. Located on historic Grande Allee, the restaurant had carved a platform out of ice on which the Stanley Cup majestically sat while Philippe Boucher and his family and friends enjoyed a great meal and the final moments of their Stanley Cup celebration.

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On Tuesday, the Stanley Cup Journal will turn the page to the next celebration.

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

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