Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 22

Holmstom hoists the Stanley Cup on stage at the huge festival taking place in his hometown of Pitea, Sweden. (Bill Wellman/HHOF)
Sixteen-plus hours after leaving Toronto, the Stanley Cup arrived at the Lulea Airport, the largest airport in northern Sweden, on Thursday, July 24 at 4:30PM local time. There to greet the Cup was Tomas Holmstrom along with a number of friends. Climbing aboard a chartered bus, the Holmstrom party sped off for Tomas's hometown of Pitea.

Tomas had a number of special things planned for the next day, but took advantage of the evening to fit in a few special visits. The first stop was an outdoor rink where Holmstrom played as a youngster. Then, he dropped by his brother Mike's house to show him the Stanley Cup. The final stop for the day was Tomas' summer home, an ancient house on a small lake. Like all of the neighbouring homes, Holmstrom's house was built in the 1700's. "My house is older than America," he cackled. Family and friends were gathered there to greet the Red Wings' winger upon his arrival, and the celebration began!

After rising on Friday morning (July 25), Tomas took the Cup into town, stopping first at Team Sportia, a sporting goods store in which he has ownership.

Something very special occurred later that morning. Baby Alva Holmstrom, the two month-old daughter of Tomas's cousin Robert, was scheduled to be baptized. After Detroit won the Cup, Tomas suggested to Robert that the ceremony take place in late-July when he had the Stanley Cup in Pitea, and that they involve the trophy as part of the ceremony.

Baby Alva Holmstrom, the two month-old daughter of Tomas's cousin Robert, is baptized using the Stanley Cup. (Bill Wellman/HHOF)
"Stor begreppen!" said Robert, and the plans were underway. "Me and my wife thought it would be fun to christen our daughter in such a priceless object!" That morning, at their church in Pitea, Alva Felicia Holmstrom was baptized, using the Stanley Cup.

The idea is wonderful - such a special occasion taking place with such a special chalice. This was not the first time a child was baptized in the Stanley Cup, as Sylvain Lefebvre's infant daughter Alexzandra was baptized in the Cup in 1996 after the Colorado Avalanche captured hockey's greatest prize. Ironically, the Cup would become a baptismal font again while it was in Sweden this summer!

On Friday afternoon, Tomas and his wife hosted a party for 400 at their historic Pitean home. Invitees, including Vancouver Canuck Mattias Ohlund (also from Pitea), enjoyed an outdoor afternoon barbecue with hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill.

The evening was devoted to visiting a huge festival taking place in town. Street vendors hawked their wares, products were on display and many enjoyed the carnival rides. Tomas carried the Stanley Cup onto the mainstage as the crowd roared its appreciation. He was welcomed by town dignitaries and congratulated on his achievement; the fourth Stanley Cup championship he has earned with Detroit. In 2006, Holmstrom was added to the Pitea Wall of Fame. After the official proceedings, Holmstrom spent half an hour signing autographs.

Holmstom hoists the Stanley Cup on stage at the huge festival taking place in his honour at his hometown of Pitea, Sweden. (Bill Wellman/HHOF)
Taking the Cup into a nearby VIP tent, Tomas and his guests snacked on hors d'oeuvres, cold cuts and pasta salad. Former NHLer Lars Lindgren, who like Holmstrom, was honoured on the Pitea Wall of Fame in 2006, was in the VIP tent, and he and his wife suggested that the Stanley Cup be taken to a few other spots. Tomas shrugged and said, "Why not?"

They took the Cup next door into Loveland, but looking around, realized that something seemed out of the ordinary. The rainbow flag was the first clue, but Tomas simply shrugged and invited those who were there, no matter their orientation, to celebrate with a drink out of the Stanley Cup.

The night ended at the Pitea Stadshotell, where those who were working during the festival got their chance to party with Tomas and the Stanley Cup. The merriment went on until 3:00, very early Saturday morning (or very late Friday night)!

* * *

Detroit's valiant captain had his turn with the Stanley Cup next, and we'll venture to Vasteras in Tuesday's edition of the Stanley Cup Journal.

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

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