Howie Borrow is living the dream. As one of seven official “Keepers of the Cup,” Borrow travels wherever the Stanley Cup goes, a job that has taken him to different corners of the world.
It all began in 1989 when Phil Pritchard, the first Keeper of the Cup, volunteered to shuttle the Cup to visit a player in Toronto. From there, a tradition was born. On top of making stops among the families of all winning players, the Cup also makes its rounds through its dedicated fan base. On October 3rd, the Cup made its way to Club Nokia, where AEG employees had the chance to pose with the revered Cup.
“The Cup has visited seven countries since we won it, in addition to the numerous events it is featured at, both public and private. The Cup is a rock star. Pretty much everybody – hockey fan or not – stops what they are doing to see it, and the Keepers of the Cup, those men from the Hall of Fame, do an awesome job,” explains Jeff Moeller, Senior Director of Communications and Content for the Kings.
Borrow was on hand as the Keeper of the Cup tasked with monitoring the Cup at Club Nokia. Working with the Cup now for five years, Borrow originally started off as a volunteer for the Hockey Hall of Fame. A few months later, he started working part-time at the museum, where he began traveling with some of the other artifacts and displays. Five years ago, he was asked if he was available for the Cup – as he puts it, landing what many consider a dream job was all due to being in the “right place at the right time.”
This is now Borrow’s second time working with the LA Kings and their fan base, thanks to the Kings’ two wins in three years.
“LA’s got a great fan base,” says Borrow. “Everywhere I’ve gone, everyone has been just so happy to see the Cup. For them to win twice in two years is very special. Their team has been around since the first expansion and to go through all those years competing in such a tough league and to finally put a team together that has brought the championship is amazing. I hear people saying that they never, ever thought that they would win. It is hard to win, there are 30 great teams in the league and it’s very tough, but Dean Lombardi has put together a great team. It’s a team that is going to be a force to be reckoned with over the next few years.”
Moeller echoes Borrow’s sentiments when looking back on the past year: “From the Kings end, this is only the second time in 47 years we have experienced this. While we have now won two championships in the last three years, we definitely do not take anything for granted and we certainly want to enjoy it. To look at the last three years and to think we have won two Stanley Cups and advanced to the Western Conference Finals is incredible. What a fantastic job by our players, coaches, front office, and management and executive team.”
Naturally, having traveled with the Cup for so long, Borrow has entertained some interesting requests.
“The Cup has just been everywhere. I’ve seen a christening in the bowl, I’ve seen it used in wedding photos. You see players eating out of it – cereal, ice cream, pirogues, chicken wings,” recalls Borrow, also revealing the strangest encounter the Cup has had in his care. “I was witness to the youngest baby in the bowl, which was 97 minutes. We were in Chicago back in 2010 and the wife of a Blackhawk executive just had a baby. The record before that was 6 hours, so we really cut it down a lot.”
Despite the craziness that often comes from celebrations with the Cup, Borrow’s favorite part of the job is the history and sentiment behind the Cup. Unlike most other championship trophies, the Cup is never replicated, which means that teams do not permanently keep it. Instead, the Cup is relinquished for the next year’s victors at the start of each season. As such, the Cup has been through a lot over the years.
“It is very emotional. There are fans that have cheered on their team for so long and they finally get the chance to touch or kiss the Cup, get a photo with it. The Cup is really the people’s Cup, and we try to share it with everybody. For the players, that’s what they dreamed about growing up as young kids in trying win this thing. Once you get your name on it, you’re basically there for life, you’re part of history,” explains Borrow. “That’s the best part of the Stanley Cup. The hands that have held it over the years – Maurice Richard, Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, Steve Yzerman – all these guys have won the Cup and it’s the same Cup and that’s what makes it special.”
Closing off, Borrow recaps the whirlwind journey he has had with the Kings and their fans this year: “It’s been a lot of fun this summer. LA is very deserving of winning the Cup and hanging out with the players for the second time in 3 years, you get to know the team very well. I’ve enjoyed being here and I’m sure we’ll be back at some point!”
Follow the travels of the Stanley Cup on Twitter @KeeperoftheCup. Follow the Kings @LAKings and the Kings Communications Department at @LAKingsPR