To win the ultimate prize in any sport is something special to behold and cherish. But, it means an extra something to win the Stanley Cup.
By most it is considered the hardest trophy to win in competitive North American team sports, and is regarded by many to be the most prestigious trophy an athlete can attain.
Some players never get a chance to hoist the Cup despite long and successful careers. And, for some it takes years and years to accomplish such as Ray Bourque and countless others.
Regardless of how long it takes, it is a special moment for any player as it is a culmination of the dream that every hockey player shares since they first tied their skates at an early age. And, when they do win it they are given the opportunity to spend one day with the Cup to spend it as they see fit.
Some players choose to party and have a good time with the Cup in celebration, while others sometimes take the trophy to grave sites to honor relatives that were not around to see the victory come to pass. Either way of spending time with Lord Stanley's trophy marks an individual's choice as they may never get the chance again to do so.
For the Chicago Blackhawks it was 49 years in between Cup wins so it was very special for the organization and the fans. The fans have had countless chances to visit the Stanley Cup as it has seen a great deal of traveling around the Chicagoland area since June. But as for the players, they have done different things with their time with the cup.
The captain of the team Jonathan Toews brought the Cup back to his hometown of Winnipeg where he was welcomed back as a returning hero. The town renamed the community center after him, and he was named not only his cities, but his provinces favorite son. He also spent time with friends and held a golf tournament including the cup.
The man who scored the clinching goal against the Philadelphia Flyers, Patrick Kane brought the Cup back to Buffalo, taking the trophy to a cemetery where he shared the moment with deceased relatives, and also brought it to a cancer clinic hospital. Ex-Hawk and current Thrasher Brent Sopel brought the Cup to a hospital as well, and also spent a day with the Cup at the Pride Parade in Chicago.
In what is considered by many to be the best defensive pairing in the NHL, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook both brought the Cup back to their native hometowns in British Columbia. They shared the time with the local hospitals, schools, fire departments, and police stations. Troy Brouwer was able to ride through the streets of his B.C. hometown of North Delta on a Zamboni during his day.
Fan favorite Dustin Byfuglien said for many months that he was simply going to take Lord Stanley fishing in his hometown in Minnesota. He did take it back to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but instead had a town parade where he cruised in a Corvette.
Much to some peoples disappointment he did not dawn the Indian Sweater Head one more time, and was sporting a Thrasher's uniform. Ben Eager brought the Cup to Ottawa where he spent time with family and local children. He also brought it to a bar in the evening to celebrate.
"Big Buff's" teammate with the Thrashers Andrew Ladd had one of the better experiences, one could say. He showed off the Cup to his hometown as others had done, but also brought it to the top of a local mountain; which resulted in some beautiful pictures being taken. All the while he was actually wearing a Blackhawks jersey; unlike Byfuglien.
Now a Dallas Star, Adam Burish brought the Cup back to his native Madison, Wisconsin where he brought the holy grail of hockey on campus at the University of Wisconsin. His visit included pictures that were taken of he and the Cup at the fifty-yard line of Camp Randall Stadium. Perhaps the graces of the Stanley Cup will lead to the Badgers winning the Big Ten in football this season?
The cup went to countless other cities and towns throughout North America including a travel with Patrick Sharp before it took the trip over the Atlantic where some of the European Blackhawks enjoyed a day with it. Re-signed Niklas Hjalmarsson took the Cup to his native village in Sweden inside a local hockey rink.
Of course no one was happier to spend a day with the Cup than Marian Hossa who finally got over the hump after two straight finals losses with Pittsburgh and Detroit. Marian brought the Cup back to his native Slovakia where he celebrated with teammate and fellow Slovakian Tomas Kopecky. His visit included playing street hockey with the neighborhood children.
Some history was also made during the Cup summer tour as backup goalie Cristobal Huet brought the Cup to France for the first time—he was the first Frenchman to win it. He was honored by a local arena, and took the Cup to Paris where he brought it to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
Other Blackhawks will spend their precious moments of time with the Cup in different ways before it's eventually returned to Toronto and the Hockey Hall of Fame. But, perhaps one of the 11 players that played in the Cup finals last year for the Blackhawks will get another day with it next year in the Summer of 2011.