Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 24
The Stanley Cup Journal

(August 1, 2003) — Bobby Carpenter spent eighteen seasons as a warrior in NHL trenches, battling first for the Washington Capitals, then later playing with the Rangers, Kings, Bruins and the New Jersey Devils. Carpenter retired as a Devil on August 16, 1999, having collected 728 points in 1,178 National Hockey League games. At the time, Bobby was just the fifth American-born player to have played in 1,000 NHL contests, following Neal Broten, Dave Christian, Joey Mullen and Gordie Roberts.

The Carpenters -- assistant coach Bobby with wife Julie and kids Robert, Brendan and Alexandra.
After retiring, Carpenter was hired by the Devils to join the coaching staff, and assisted the team during the 2000 Stanley Cup championship run. This season just completed, aiding Head Coach Pat Burns, Bobby played a key role in the Devils' acknowledged tenacity. Bobby Carpenter knows about determination - in 1981, he jumped straight from high school (St. John's Prep in Danvers, Massachusetts) to the NHL and proceeded to score 32 goals as an 18-year old rookie.

"In 2000 when the Devils won the Cup, I had a party for more than 700 people," Bobby winces. "That was a wild time! This time, though, it's for a few close friends and my family," Bobby smiled as he waited for the arrival of hockey's most cherished trophy. Right on schedule, at 11:30 Saturday morning, the Stanley Cup arrived at the Carpenter home in Alton Bay, New Hampshire.

The first order of business was a series of professional photographs with Bobby, his wife Julie and their children Alexandra, Robert and Brendan. With the Stanley Cup situated in their midst, it wasn't difficult for the Carpenters to find their A-game smiles. Then, by mid-afternoon, the party began. Sitting on the Eastern Seaboard, it was appropriate to have a clambake and lobster feast, and no one left the party hungry…or without butter dripping down their chin!

Bobby Carpenter with buddy Chippy (back left) and the ball hockey-playing kids.
While relaxing around the yard, Bobby proposed a ball hockey game, and had no shortage of competitors volunteering to play. Bobby took one side with a gaggle of kids while his friend Chippy lined up on the other side with the rest of the children. "Hey, what about me?" asked Walt, the Cup's keeper. Chippy and Bobby flipped a coin. "Damn, I lost," Chippy said. "Walt, I guess you're on my side." The first team to 20 won the ball hockey contest…and the Stanley Cup! The teams battled, and the game was closerthanthis, but Chippy's team scored Goal Number 20 to capture their own version of the Stanley Cup championship. Walt was the netminder on Chippy's team, and exhausted, remarked, "Bobby Carpenter hasn't lost his scoring touch, that's for sure!" In fact, Carpenter was the first U.S.-born NHL player to score fifty or more goals in a single season, firing 53 with the Capitals in 1984-85.

To relax after the game, many of the twenty invited guests climbed into the Jacuzzi. Afterwards, the friends sat by the fire pit, regaling each other with wonderful memories of long-standing friendship while the Stanley Cup cast its own unique shadow from the light of the dancing flames. But as the group enjoyed a quiet evening, Bobby's competitive urges got the better of him. "Okay, who's in for a game of shuffleboard? Whaddya think, winner gets the Stanley Cup?"

The small group sat enjoying the celebration of both the hockey championship and of good friendship until three in the morning. Although it was very late, all knew the night's conclusion had arrived far too soon. The Stanley Cup would be on its way to another destination at the crack of dawn.

At 7AM, the trophy was back on the highway. It's an incredible one-hour journey between Alton Bay, New Hampshire and York, Maine, with the scenery providing breath-taking greenery and some of the most incredible architecture imaginable. York was settled in 1630 and is one of the oldest towns in the United States, so history literally permeates the entire region. And it's in York, Maine that David Conte, the Director of Scouting for the New Jersey Devils, added a new chapter of history by returning to the town of 13,000 with the Stanley Cup.

Once upon a time, David Conte was quite a hockey player himself. Born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Conte attended Colgate University in Upstate New York where he was selected the most valuable player in 1971. After graduating, David played two seasons of hockey in Finland, two in Italy and a fifth season in Spain. He then joined the Washington Capitals organization as a scout for five seasons before the Devils hired him in 1984. Conte completed his tenth season as New Jersey's Director of Scouting this spring with his third Stanley Cup championship. Amongst his peers, David is regarded as the best in the business, and with a franchise comprised of homegrown talent like Martin Brodeur, Sergei Brylin, Scott Gomez, John Madden and Scott Niedermayer, you can understand why. "What a great team," Conte began. "They just showed so much heart; so much desire. It's guys like Jamie Langenbrunner and Brian Gionta who epitomize what I mean. They're tough boys. People think a tough guy has to lay out big hits, but that's so wrong. Langenbrunner and Gionta absorbed anything that came at them and just kept going. That's why the Devils won the Stanley Cup - because of incredible work ethic. What a great group of guys!"

David Conte still plays hockey regularly, and his first stop was 8:30 Sunday morning for his weekly pick-up game at the Dover Ice Arena in nearby Dover, New Hampshire. The hockey pals played a spirited game with the Stanley Cup on display nearby for inspiration. After the game, each of the players pulled out a camera and had a photograph taken in full hockey gear alongside the Cup. Afterwards, David crossed the street with the Stanley Cup to show the gang at Philbrick's Sports.

David Conte surprises his local fruit stand with a visit from the Stanley Cup.
David then took the Stanley Cup to his favoured golf course, the spectacular Ledges Golf Club in York. It's difficult to concentrate with scenery that beautiful, let alone catching a glimpse of a wild critter ducking out of its hiding spot to get a better look at the proceedings. David placed the Cup on the first tee, making it available for his colleagues at the Club to get a photograph with the Devils' hard-won reward. But as much as the golfers were in awe, few could imagine the excitement when Conte brought the Stanley Cup to York Corner Gardens. "Oh my God, this is great! Thank you so much for bringing the Stanley Cup to our fruitstand!"

David then took the Stanley Cup down to York Harbour where a friend owns a boat. David's son Jeremy was waiting there along with David's friend Elly and her daughter Mary. Other friends also arrived for the trip. The boat skimmed northeast along the rocky Maine coast dotted with periodic white sandy beaches. It tucked around Cape Neddick, then proceeded past Bald Head Cliff on its way to Ogunquit and extraordinary Perkins Cove, the tidewater basin where the Josias River meets the Atlantic Ocean. Throughout the trip, people on the shore would do double takes as they'd glance up at the beautiful boat and see something they certainly weren't expecting "Lookit! The Stanley Cup! Can you believe it?" they'd shout, waving madly.

It had been a glorious day on the water, but there was a house party waiting back at David's house. After docking back at York Harbour, Conte drove the Stanley Cup to his home, a terrific old Victorian house filled with New England knickknacks. "I like this area a whole lot," David explained. "I wanted to get a property along the Southern Maine Coast." Through the course of the afternoon, David Conte and the Stanley Cup were greeted by 400 friends and acquaintances. Each feasted on lobster and clams in a tent set up in Conte's backyard. "Hey, don't forget to try my own homemade salsa," he insisted.

The party wound down at eleven o'clock Sunday night. David explained, "It's important to get a great sleep. We're going to be up at five for a very special treat." Monday morning was barely a notion when David startled Cup Keeper Walt Neubrand awake. "Walt, come on. Get up. It's five!" Yawning, Walt asked David how he slept. "Slept? I haven't been to bed yet!"

The Stanley Cup experiences a Southern Maine Coast morning.
David took the Stanley Cup to the historic Nubble Lighthouse to observe a sunrise like no other on earth. The southernmost of Maine's many lighthouses, Nubble Light was built in 1879 on a rocky island called the Nubble at Cape Neddick Peninsula. In actuality, the lighthouse's proper name is Cape Neddick Light. The lighthouse is in a 41-foot tower that is part of a six-room Victorian house built in the shape of a cross. The red light flashes every six seconds and can be seen distinctly for 13 miles out into the ocean.

Cape Neddick can get extremely windy, but on Monday, it was a perfect day to gaze at the panorama of the Maine skyline. David Conte invited a professional photographer along to capture the beauty of the Stanley Cup nestled beside Nubble Lighthouse in the light of an Eastern Seaboard morning. For three hours, David stayed at Cape Neddick with the Stanley Cup, smelling the salty breeze in the warm air, watching the tide come in and observing the sun elevate from the horizon. "It doesn't get more beautiful than this, does it?" No one could argue David's point.

Monday in Stanley Cup Journal, we go behind the scenes into what it entails to book a travel itinerary for the Stanley Cup.

Kevin Shea is a Toronto-based hockey writer.

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