MONTREAL - Mark Streit's day with the Stanley Cup was everything he hoped it would be and more.
On August 2, the 39-year-old defenseman welcomed the precious trophy and its keepers - Matt Paroli and Howie Borrow - to Switzerland at Zurich Airport, before accompanying it on the 90 mile drive to his hometown of Bern for a day-long celebration.
It marked just the third time in NHL history that a Swiss-born player had claimed hockey's holy grail and was fortunate enough to bring it home, with Streit joining goaltenders Martin Gerber (2006) and David Aebischer (2001) in that regard.
The first stop on Streit's docket was a renowned local park - the Rose Garden - for some quality time with family and unique photo opportunities.
"It's a great sightseeing spot. You can see the whole city of Bern behind it. It was a perfect day with great weather. My whole family was there. We had lunch, and then we had a photographer take some beautiful pictures," shared Streit, on the beginning of a magical day in the Swiss capital. "We hadn't really unpacked the Cup in Zurich, so when they opened up the case, it was such a great feeling to take it out and show everybody and raise it. Celebrating it with them meant the world to me."
Then, it was off for a visit with Bern Mayor Alec von Graffenried, follwed by a press conference and a meet-and-greet with fans.
"It was a beautiful experience. So many people are happy for you. They follow your career. They love the NHL. They love hockey. Bern is a hockey town. Their team - SC Bern - is the most important thing to them. There are so many hockey fans in the city. I think there were close to 800 people who came out for the event," said Streit, who certainly appreciated the incredible support. "It was really, really hot that day and they waited so patiently in line. It was a cool experience. You never know when the Cup is going to be in Bern again. It's one of those things you have to appreciate when you have the chance."
A trip to the Swiss parliament was next where Streit was met by the Head of the Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports, Guy Parmelin, before the day wrapped up with another celebratory gathering at Restaurant Schwellenmätteli alongside the Aare River.
"For me, it was important to have a party with family and friends at the end of the day, and you want to have it at a great location. It's another beautiful location. I'm really a hometown boy and I love to go back and I love to go to the river and swim. It was important to be there," said Streit, who had about 100 guests on the restaurant's terrasse. "Luckily, we got the restaurant and we had a great time."
At 11:45 p.m., Paroli and Borrow informed Streit that they were planning on leaving with the Cup at midnight, so the 11-year veteran took the opportunity to enjoy some alone time with it and reflect on the long journey to the top.
"I took the Cup to the other side of the restaurant in front of the river and just looked at it. It was pretty emotional. I really hadn't had a moment on my own with it until then," recalled Streit, who has 784 career games under his belt. "I just reminded myself of all the work it took to get there. I looked at the names and the teams and the history on the Cup and how many great players are on it. I looked at the place where our names are going to be. It's a huge honor to win it and to enjoy it for a day. It was great."
Seven months earlier, Streit and his wife, Fabienne, welcomed their first child into the world - Victoria - so the events of that special day in Bern really were the icing on the cake for the smooth-skating blue-liner.
"The birth of our first child was the best thing we ever experienced and it was by far the most prestigious moment in our lives. Then, you win the Stanley Cup. That's something you dream of. It's been a crazy few months, but it's been fun," said Streit, who had Victoria sit in the Cup back in Pittsburgh when the Penguins returned home following their Game 6 victory in Nashville in mid-June. "She doesn't realize it now, but in 10 or 15 years when sees the picture, she'll think it's very cool."
Thoughts on a party in Bern again next summer, Mark?
"For sure," said Streit, who is returning to Montreal this fall after siging a one-year, one-way contract with the Canadiens on July 25. "I'd love to."