This season, Essensa, who has been the Bruins goalie coach since 2003 saw one of his prized pupils help the Bruins clinch the Stanley Cup Championship and take home his second Vezina Trophy and it seems fitting that the man who helped train Thomas, also the 2011 Conn Smythe winner as playoff MVP, should get his day with the Cup just before his prized pupil got to meet Stanley on August 24.
Essensa lives in Oxford, Michigan with his wife and three sons, but was born and raised in Toronto, so he had to choose where he would celebrate his Cup day.
"Most of my friends that I grew up with [in Toronto] have dispersed, but most of my closest college friends [from Michigan State University] are still around here," said Essensa. "All my wife's family is down here and me and my three boys all play hockey in the Detroit area, so it made more sense to have it here in Michigan."
Although his parents and brother were unable to make the trip, he had plenty of close friends and family to celebrate with on a gordgeous summer day.
"It was probably high 70's, maybe 80," said Essensa. "It was perfect all day."
The sunny weather was welcomed since Essensa's first order of business with Stanley was to take it golfing at the Oakhurst Country Club.
"I always knew I wanted to take it golfing," said Essensa. "I saw Craig Ramsay's day with it.
"He took it golfing and I knew I wanted to do that."
Essensa then took it to the rink where his sons Josh, Ben and Jake all play hockey. There, the Essensa kids' teammates and classmates, along with a hockey team of adult special needs players, were all able to take pictures with the Cup.
The next stop on the Stanley agenda was the Essensa house for a party with friends, family and neighbors, which continued at a banquet hall near Lake Orion.
At the banquet hall, Essensa got to experience one of his favorite cup moments: his wife Jeanine enjoying the honor of being the first of his group to sip from the Cup.
"She sacrifices so much when I'm away," explained Essensa. "I wanted her to be the first to drink out of it."
His other two favorite parts of the day were, of course, the golfing and the joy that seeing Stanley brought to his sons and the special needs hockey team at the rink.
In fact, Jake, his 9-year-old son, was so excited at the idea of seeing the cup that Essensa put it by his bed in the morning, it was the first thing Jake saw when he woke up.
Though Essensa never got to have the cup as a player, he feels it's still very gratifying to have it as a coach.
"It would have been nice to have it as a player... but the celebration is pretty similar," Essensa added. "The people celebrating with me might have been a bit younger, but the celebration is probably the same."
Any day with the Cup should be a memorable day and Essensa was pleased with the time he spent with Stanley before sending it on its way to Thomas.
"[My day] went off without a hitch," said Essensa. "It was perfect."---Amanda Ostuni