Jacques Martin finally reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2016 after 30 years in the NHL, winning the Cup as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Then Martin, 64, and the Penguins became the first repeat champions since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998, the glow of his first victory still warm when he began enjoying his second.
On Tuesday, Martin took the priceless sterling trophy on a bit of a tour of eastern Ontario, where he was raised, sharing the Cup and his stories with fans young and old, as well as his family and dear friends.
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"The second one is different, for sure," he said with a laugh when it was suggested to him that he was setting off on his second annual Jacques Martin Stanley Cup Tour.
"It's a different process. Last year, it seemed that we had more injuries than we had the first year. To repeat as winners … I can understand why there have been very few teams that have repeated in the last 20 years. There's more parity in the League, it's so difficult now."
Martin knows all about how hard it is to win the Cup; he worked as a coach, assistant and general manager for seven teams before reaching the Final.
Last August, Martin began his celebration day with four hours in Rigaud, Quebec, about 7 miles east of the Ontario border. The Stanley Cup arrived quietly that morning at his 36-year-old hockey school, which he's operated with his daughter, Angela, for the past 24 years at Bourget College.
From there, Martin took the trophy to another public function on a baseball diamond in tiny Saint-Pascal-Baylon, Ontario, Martin's hometown about 30 miles east of Ottawa, then to a local community center for a private celebration with family and friends.
On Tuesday, his hockey school adjourned for the summer, Martin had different plans. The Stanley Cup arrived in Ottawa at midmorning from Boston with Hockey Hall of Fame representative Mario Della Savia, the trophy having spent Monday with Penguins defenseman Ron Hainsey in Connecticut.
Martin and Della Savia first headed to Ottawa's Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario to spend a couple of hours with starry-eyed youngsters and their parents, making a stop at adjacent Roger Neilson House, a palliative care center for terminally ill children that is named after the former NHL coach and Hockey Hall of Famer, who died of cancer in 2003.
Then the Cup headed about 60 miles east to an automobile dealership in Hawkesbury owned by Martin's longtime friend Jacques Laplante. Following a scheduled 90-minute public stop there, Martin doubled back 15 miles to the village of Alfred, hailed as the french fries capital of Canada, to a restaurant for a cocktail reception and, finally, a quiet dinner and celebration with friends and family. Included in the final stop were Martin's brother, Ronald; his sisters, Denise and Pierrette; and his daughters, Angela and Nathalee.
(It was in Alfred, at an arena on the grounds of an agricultural college, where Martin launched his hockey school in 1981.)
Della Savia was to spend the night Tuesday near the Ottawa airport, flying back to Toronto with the Cup on Wednesday. The Hall of Fame's Howie Borrow is scheduled take the trophy to Pittsburgh for the day of celebration of Mike Bales, the former Penguins goaltending coach who was hired by the Carolina Hurricanes for the same job in June.
"I wanted to do things a little differently this year," Martin said. "The priority would have been for the kids at the hockey school but because of timing, I'm very happy to bring it to CHEO and to Roger Neilson House, having worked for years with Roger and knowing how much he was involved with the hospital.
"With Ottawa being my home base, the area where I grew up, it's kind of nice to bring it back. Jacques is a close friend of mine and has been for a long time, so it's a nice opportunity to give back to him by bringing the Cup to one of his dealerships for a while, and then have a private party, nice to be with family and friends in a smaller gathering to enjoy some time with the Cup."
On this visit, Martin's family and friends would get to see his name on the bottom band of the trophy; the engraving of the 2015-16 Penguins' names had not been done when he had the Cup at his hockey school last August. It wasn't until this spring, when the Penguins were crowned champions June 11 in Nashville, that Martin saw his name on the Cup for the first time.
"It was kind of a warm feeling, a nice feeling of accomplishment," he said, modestly and quietly proud of his place on hockey's holy grail. "For sure, it's something special."