Cup equals passion
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It's Brodeur's fourth goal of the day and third in the final game. Brodeur's team wins 5-3, 5-1 and 5-2.
Bolt carried the Cup to the center of the street, raising the shining prize to the sounds of We Are the Champions. Brodeur shouts, "The Cup is back where it belongs."
Martin and Denis Brodeur Jr. take turns hoisting the Cup with as much excitement as the Devils did a few weeks earlier.
History is filled with scrumptious morsels like this. This is the only trophy that championship team members get to take home as a part of their reward.
It's during those travels--the Cup travels from 80,000 to 100,000 miles per year--that the trophy has been lost, dented, floated in a river, drowned in a canal, restaurants, cemeteries, golf courses -- virtually everywhere -- over the more than 100 years that it has been awarded for hockey supremacy.
Wherever it goes, youngsters and oldsters alike flock to the Cup, pose for pictures, hug it, kiss it, sit their toddlers in it. Being around this trophy, you quickly learn that the Stanley Cup is never just half-filled with all the excitement that goes on around it.
For four days in the summer of 2000, I saw firsthand the passion and reverence Marty Brodeur and Scott Stevens have for the Stanley Cup -- and I've always believed this reverence for the Cup is just a continuation of their passion for the game they play so well.
Later that first night, Brodeur and his family took the Stanley Cup to a showing of the Disney movie The Kid -- walking into the theater with the Cup filled with popcorn for Marty's family to enjoy.
"That's some of the best popcorn I ever tasted," said Denis Brodeur Sr. with a laugh. Brodeur's father has been involved in championship celebrations as the team photographer of the Montreal Canadiens for three decades. "I guess you could say popcorn always tastes better out of the Stanley Cup."
Scott Stevens, Kitchener, Ontario, 64 miles southwest of Toronto
A neighbor shouted over to the parking lot at the auditorium, wondering what was going on. "It's Scott Stevens and the Stanley Cup," a man yelled back. The neighbor just shrugged. But later in the day, he was in line to get his picture taken with the Cup.
Wherever the Cup goes, there's excitement. When the Devils won in 1995, Stevens regretted not having a chance to take it back home.
"I only got one day with the Cup and could only bring it to our cottage at Lake Catchacoma," Stevens says, referring to his summer spot 150 miles northeast of Toronto. "This time I made sure we brought it back here."
The line of Cup worshippers seemed endless.
A team of hockey players from Sweden had their picture taken with the Cup. Walter Gretzky, Wayne's father, had a 16-and-under team in Kitchener for a tournament, and he came over to congratulate Scott and his parents, Larry and Mary. A young girl from Australia, who was visiting a pen pal in Toronto and read about Stevens and the Cup, also came to see hockey history.
Florence Henry, 85, the great-aunt of Stevens' wife, Donna, reached up from her wheelchair and touched the Cup at center ice of the Kitchener Auditorium. Her smile was captivating.
Henry cannot speak. But she scribbled her words on a notepad, "I've never seen the Stanley Cup up close. Now I know why those players play so hard to win it. It's beautiful.
"These eyes have never seen anything like it."
Later in the day, Stevens took the Cup to the Galt Country Club, where family and close friends touch it. A few golfers even stopped putting to come over and touch Stanley.
In talking to Stevens about my time with Brodeur and the street hockey games in St. Leonard, Scott, whom I got to know quite well when he played in St. Louis in 1990-91, apologized for not being as creative.
I tried to cajole him into playing a round of golf -- or even just one hole for Lord Stanley's Cup. Scott thought about it for a moment, but then declined. He's lucky he did.
"Scott reminds me a lot of Steve Yzerman," Oak said, referring to the Red Wings' captain. "He's like a mother hen watching over the Cup. He knows the history and tradition -- and how much hard work goes into winning the Cup.
"I think that's why he makes sure no one abuses the privilege of having the Cup."
On these four days in July, when most hockey players are thinking about what they have to do to get better, Brodeur and Stevens and the rest of the Devils were reveling in victory -- and wondering if it can get any better.
Watching Brodeur and Stevens defeat the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim comes as no surprise to this reporter, after spending up close and personal time with them and the Stanley Cup.
To me, there definitely is a correlation between the passion and reverence they have for the Stanley Cup and the way they compete on the ice for the right to hoist it in victory one more time.
Well, the Stanley Cup once again belongs to Stevens and Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils.
Longtime NHL columnist Larry Wigge is a frequent contributor to Impact!