In hockey - especially during the Stanley Cup Playoffs - the superstitions are as serious and as old as the game itself.
If you play in the NHL, you don't touch the Stanley Cup, and you certainly don't lift it over your head or drink from it, until you've won it yourself.
So imagine Luke Schenn's dilemma when his younger brother, Brayden, brought the most coveted trophy in the game to their childhood home in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan last summer. Luke flew in from Kelowna, BC to be there - he wasn't going to miss the moment he and his little brother had dreamed about since they were kids - but still, no matter how you cut it, it was going to be weird.
"He was proud and happy for me, but it was an uneasy feeling, too, because he had played 12 years in the League," Brayden told stlouisblues.com. "You always wish you have your own chance to lift it over your head and drink from it, but Luke, he hadn't yet. So he didn't touch it (at my Cup party)."
If you're lucky enough to know the Schenns and have time to sift through their family photo album from that day, you might chuckle when you see Luke. In every photo with the Stanley Cup taken that day, whether with mom, dad, sisters, wives, girlfriends, nieces or nephews, Luke is usually the guy standing on the end, the furthest away from Lord Stanley.
Brayden laughs when that subtlety is pointed out to him.
"You know, one of the other funny things he did was he eventually agreed to drink out of it, but he went back in the house and grabbed a straw," Brayden recalled. "I bet he did that three or four times that day. He would put the straw in the middle, careful not to touch the edges, and he'd drink out of it. I guess it worked for him."
Luke was uncertain about his hockey career last summer, too. He wasn't ready to hang up the skates, but after lengthy stays with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers, he couldn't seem to find his place. After departing Philadelphia in the 2015-16 season, he played with the Los Angeles Kings, Arizona Coyotes, Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks and even a handful of games in the American Hockey League with the San Diego Gulls and the Utica Comets. When the Tampa Bay Lightning - without question one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference - offered him a one-year deal for the 2019-20 season, he took it without hesitation.
"Once you see (Brayden's day with the Cup), you get that taste," Luke told The Athletic. "All of a sudden, Tampa Bay says they're interested, (then) you say, 'this is hopefully my chance.'"
With Brayden out of the postseason following a first-round series against the Canucks in late August, the Schenn family turned its full attention to Luke, who was helping the Lightning plow through their Eastern Conference foes. The family considered traveling to the bubble for the final two rounds of the playoffs, but doing so meant several days of quarantining at home, then another seven days of quarantine in the hotel room before they would be able to attend any games. All told, they would also need to miss about a month of work.
Because of the circumstances, the Schenns instead decided to get together at mom and dad's house in Saskatoon. Their mother, Rita, along with sisters Macy and Madison, their grandmother and Brayden's fiancé, Kelsey, watched the games on a TV upstairs, while Brayden watched with his dad in the man-cave downstairs.
"For whatever reason, when I'd watch the game upstairs, the Lightning would always lose," Brayden said. "So I thought I would change it up, go downstairs with my dad where he always watches. It's funny, from a fan's perspective, they think their superstitions have an outcome on the game, which they don't. But I guess I fell into that trap. It sounds so stupid, but I just wanted Luke to win so bad, so I tried to have my own little thing to try to help him."
Jeff Schenn's man-cave features a 60-inch TV, several framed jerseys on the wall and a collection of hockey memorabilia the boys have acquired over their combined 23 years in the NHL. When the seconds ticked down in Tampa Bay's 2-0 win over the Dallas Stars in Game 6 on Monday night - securing the Stanley Cup for Luke and the Lightning - the family went berserk.
"There was lots of screaming, yelling and hugging going on," Brayden said. "Some neighbors across the street came over and some family came over and we had a little party, not too big, maybe 15 or 20 people there. We had a FaceTime with Luke for a little bit. Just lots of yelling and screaming from home, that's kind of the way it was this year.
"If it wasn't for COVID, 100 percent I would have been there," Brayden added, noting that Luke attended Games 5, 6 and 7 of the Stanley Cup Final last year in support of the Blues. "But Luke winning in the bubble was still very real. It's a memory we'll have forever, each winning the Stanley Cup."
The Schenns are only the seventh pair of brothers to win the Stanley Cup in back-to-back years with different teams in League history. The last time it happened was in 1969 and 1970, when Tony Esposito and Phil Esposito won championships with Montreal and Boston, respectively.
"That doesn't happen very often. It shows you how lucky we are and you never take anything for granted playing in this League," Brayden said. "Everything that happened last year with me and the Cup party and Luke being there and stuff like that, it was pretty special to watch him raise the Cup over his head. The circumstances are a little bit different, and I would have liked to have been there with him, but it's a pretty proud moment for our family.
"Brayden and Luke Schenn, going on the Cup side by side forever, is pretty cool."