A little rain never hurt anyone – just ask LA Kings defenseman Matt Greene, who spent time with the Stanley Cup, 500 of his closest friends, and a bridal party on a cold and rainy day in Grand Ledge, Michigan, during this past summer.
Well, something like that.
It may not have hurt, but it literally rained on Greene’s scheduled championship parade in his hometown, which resulted in the parade having to be cancelled. But as is his personality, Greene rolled with the punches and continued on with his day, which took him to the high school he graduated from, where he spent three hours.
“We just let the community come out and see it and take pictures and enjoy it,” said Greene of the Stanley Cup.
A small tour of the town ensued, which took Greene and his trophy to about five local establishments where he let anyone see it that wanted to, even in the pouring rain.
The Cup eventually ended up at the home of Greene’s parents who were charged with hosting a party for about 300 puddle-jumping guests. Tents were set up in the driveway to accommodate the weather, and they also served as eye-catching pieces to about 200 additional town residents who ended up crashing the party.
“I can definitely say it was a typical small-town party. You can try to make it as private as you want to or whatever, but it doesn’t matter, if people want to come, they can come,” explained Greene, who had two portable bathrooms set up for the party.
Of the 500-plus people who made their way to the Greene residence that day, a few particular strangers made quite the impression on the Kings blueliner.
“I see a guy beside the Cup with a full tuxedo on, and he’s got a camera around his neck” Green recalls. “I’m thinking ‘What the heck is this guy doing?’ I didn’t recognize him at all.”
Eventually, Greene notices a bride and groom next to the Cup, who are subsequently joined by their bridesmaids and groomsmen.
“What are you going to do? Somebody on their wedding day wants to change their entire plan to come to a party where they don’t even know the guy who was hosting it, walk right in and take a picture in their wedding gown with their entire wedding party, I think we’re going to let it happen,” exclaimed Greene.
“They were nice, they stayed for a little bit, got their pictures and took off,” Greene continued. “Hopefully they had a good night.”
Greene’s night didn’t end there, as he took his celebration to a local bar after the house party, where he capped off a day he wouldn’t change if he could, even despite the rain.
“I consider myself really fortunate to grow up in Grand Ledge, it’s a town where you can’t walk down the street without bumping into one of your friends” commented Greene, a first-time Cup Champ. “It’s a pretty good feeling to be able to share (the Cup) with everyone.”
It was an opportunity that Greene thought he would have had about six years earlier, when, in 2006, he made it to the Stanley Cup Final with Edmonton, but current Kings teammate Justin Williams and the Carolina Hurricanes figuratively rained on that parade.
“You work that hard and get so close, and it’s insult to injury after you do all that and your reward for making it that long is seeing guys celebrate right in front of you and achieve their goals and win the Cup and it’s something you definitely don’t want to go through again,” Greene remarked.
Immediately following the 2006 Final, Greene believed he’d get the chance to play on hockey’s biggest stage again, but not making the playoffs in Edmonton the next two years and the trade to Los Angeles, followed by another year of missing the post-season left him with doubts.
“You think to yourself, ‘wow, this is a pretty big deal, this is pretty tough to do,’” said Greene in regards to making to the Final.
It wasn’t even looking so good for Greene and the Kings at times this season as a mid-season coaching change had the most optimistic minds wondering if the Kings could earn a post-season berth.
“You want to try to fix things, you want to try to find a solution at all times, and it’s tough to do,” conceded Greene, an alternate captain. “You have to lead by example. People are going to feed off of that if they’re frustrated.”
Frustration turned to success at precisely the right time for the Kings, and in Game 6 of the Final, with the Kings leading the series 3-2, and the game 5-1, and already having scored an empty-net goal to secure their first Cup in franchise history, Greene, who had only scored four goals during the regular season, capped off the goal frenzy for LA with under four minutes remaining.
“The building was going nuts, you didn’t want any whistles, you just wanted play to keep going and get on with the celebration,” said Greene honestly.
“I guess it would be a bad bar trivia question in 20 years,” joked Greene, who admitted the goal wasn’t necessary.
Necessary or not, it was the final tally in a magical season for Greene and the Kings, one that will result in Greene’s name being engraved on the most coveted trophy in sports in just a matter of days.
There will be no rain in the forecast for that parade.