Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 2009, 18

Hal visited his old school, Nashoba Regional High School where students, faculty, alumni and friends were invited to get their picture taken with the Stanley Cup. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Hal Gill met the Stanley Cup at the airport late in the afternoon of August 12 and took it to Little Italy in the north end of Boston. The 'big dig' now over, the narrow streets are so welcoming, with a terrific mix of traditional and trendy, making it that much more welcoming.

Hal, his wife Anne and kids Isabelle and Sophie were there with Hal's pal Andrew Raycroft. The two played together in Boston and in Toronto, but true to the unwritten rules of hockey, Raycroft refused to touch the Stanley as he had not yet won a championship himself.

Pictures were taken, beverages consumed and stories told, but all in all, it was a quiet evening with the giant defenceman and his family and friends.

Hal sharing a moment with the Cup at his Uncle Dave's farm in Sterling, MA.
(Mike Bolt/HHOF)
The next morning, Gill took the Stanley Cup to Bolton, Massachusetts, about 45 minutes west of Boston, and the neighbourhood in which he grew up. The first stop was his old school, Nashoba Regional High School. The current Chieftains were there en masse, and Gill pulled on a Chieftains' jersey like he had done so many times in the past. Students, faculty, alumni and friends were invited to join Hal to get their picture taken in the hallowed halls of Nashoba with the iconic hockey reward, with funds raised going to the school's athletic department.

Twenty minutes further west again, and the Gill family arrived at Uncle Dave's farm in Sterling, Massachusetts. Sterling is found in the foothills of Mount Wachusett and may be best known as the home of Mary Sawyer, who had a little lamb whose fleece was white as snow. There is a statue of Mary's little lamb in the Town Common.

Hal and family sharing a moment with the Cup in Boston, MA. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
On August 13, most of the photographs in Sterling were not of sheep but of Lord Stanley's Cup. The Gill family party was taking place there. The Stanley Cup was placed on a bale of hay so that all the relatives could get a look and a photo with Hal, their hockey hero. Once the bowl was filled with ice cream, the kids swarmed over the Cup like ants on a picnic sandwich. Through the afternoon, Hal was raising money for the Home for Little Wanderers, a long-standing agency in Massachusetts that looks out for the well-being of children.

Gill and the gang returned to Boston's North End for a great meal at Lucia Ristorante, then visited the local firehall. The fire chief is no stranger to hockey – his son is Keith Tkachuk of the St. Louis Blues.

Hal and the Stanley Cup in Boston, MA.
(Mike Bolt/HHOF)
The Stanley Cup was then transported over to a party on the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat in the world. 'Old Ironsides' is a wooden-hulled frigate belonging to the United States Navy, and is berthed at Pier 1 at one end of Boston's Freedom Trail.

As if the historic setting wasn't magnificent enough, embellished by the magnificent Stanley Cup, the catering by Tresca was equally amazing. By the way, the hostess was the daughter of Bruins' Hall of Famer Ray Bourque.

A quick stop at a nearby bar to show patrons the Stanley Cup preceded a return to Hal's home, and he and Anne sat with some friends on their rooftop deck enjoying the moment as moonlight encroached on the party.

Mark and his family sharing a moment with the Stanley Cup at their home in Rhode Island. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
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Mark Eaton's turn with the trophy was Sunday, August 16. The pride of Wilmington, Delaware, the defenceman decided to spend his time with the Stanley Cup at his home in Rhode Island. Mark is married to Dorrie, a native Rhode Islander, and they have two girls, Kylie and Adriana.

After landing at the airport in Providence, Mark drove with the Stanley Cup to Smithfield, just 15 minutes away. There, at noon, he did an autograph/photograph session at Wide World of Indoor Sports in the Pound Hill Business Park, and selected the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which gives hope to children battling life-threatening illnesses, as the beneficiary.

A private party was held for Mark and the Stanley Cup at Bell Mer in Newport, RI.
(Mike Bolt/HHOF)
More than a thousand fans came by to excitedly congratulate Mark and to see the Stanley Cup, but few were more delighted than Kevin Labelle and his brothers Kenny and Kreg. You see, Kevin was getting married that afternoon at 3:45, but when he discovered that the Cup was in town, he and his brothers had to be there. It wasn't hard to pick them out – they were the only ones in tuxedos!

During the summer months, Mark works out with champion bodybuilder Anthony Ianiero at Flex Appeal in East Greenwich. He clearly is a good student – outside, a sign boasted: 'Mark Eaton Works Out Here!'

Mark and his wife Dorrie pose for a picture overlooking the Narragansett Bay in Newport, RI while the Stanley Cup looks on. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Time for personal pictures, so Mark chose the incredible Cliff Walk along the eastern shore of Newport as an appropriate setting. The shoreline is sensational and the natural beauty of the area breathtaking, so the Stanley Cup fit in perfectly.

Mark's daughter Adriana feeds him some cake and ice cream out of the bowl of the Stanley Cup.
(Mike Bolt/HHOF)
A private party was held at Bell Mer in Newport, an amazing banquet hall overlooking Narragansett Bay. A number of Eaton's teammates from the 1997-98 edition of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish arrived to celebrate their friend's success. The party was wonderfully planned and executed by Sarah True and the team at Be Inspired.

The evening finished with a stop at a bar to show fans the Cup, and the enthusiasm was, as expected, over the top.

Early Monday morning, Mark and Dorrie took the kids and the Cup to Friends Market, owned by Dorrie's grandfather in Providence. Then it was back to Smithfield for a birthday party, with cake, icing and all, in the bowl of the Cup.

Mark had thoroughly enjoyed his time with the Stanley Cup. "I didn't know what to expect," he admitted. "It worked out well, and I think we made a lot of people happy."

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We'll flip to the next entry in the Stanley Cup Journal on Tuesday, and discover what Ruslan Fedotenko does on his day with Lord Stanley's legacy.

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

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