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Summer with Stanley 2011 blog @NHL
Parting is such sweet sorrow
07.24.2011 / 6:11 PM ET

Summer with Stanley's European Tour has officially ended.

Cup Keeper Phil Pritchard has locked away the Cup for Sunday night  in preperation for its flight out to its next destination.

After more than 1,500 miles traveled in car, countless hours on airplanes, a ripped shirt and getting lost in the woods -- don't ask -- I just wanted to thank Eric Tosi of the Boston Bruins PR staff,  along with Zdeno Chara, Tomas Kaberle, David Krejci and Tuuka Rask for allowing us to share with them their day with the Cup.

Truly a wonderful experience. To see all videos of for the European Tour be sure to check out

-- Paul Vinciguerra

Four hours later, Savonlinna celebrates with Rask
07.24.2011 / 12:20 PM ET

After four hours on the road and a switch in cars (from a bus to a Chevy Impala), we finally arrived at the Savonlinna Ice Rink in Tuukka Rask's hometown.

Upon arrival, Rask is greeted warmly by several hundred people that have been waiting for him and the Stanley Cup. Rask is scheduled to spend around an hour here before his private party with his family starts.

More later...

-- Paul Vinciguerra

Cup arrives in Finland, Rask's day begins
07.24.2011 / 7:26 AM ET

The Cup has landed in Finland. I know because I was on the flight with Cup Keeper Phil Pritchard. As we pass through security, waiting for us is Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.

Actually, I take that back, waiting is the wrong word. Rask didn't hesitate. He pretty much walked right over to Phil and took the Cup graciously. He is now posing for photos and some autographs.

Once that is complete we have a four-hour car ride into his hometown where the first stop will be the Savonlinna Ice Rink.

More later...

-- Paul Vinciguerra

Meet Sir Zdeno Chara
07.23.2011 / 3:04 PM ET

After all the speeches, Chara was then greeted with what I can only relate to as a 21-gun military salute.

If you read this blog last year, you would know that both Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky were knighted, so it appears to be Slovakian tradition as they can now welcome newly-knighted and friend, Sir Zdeno Chara.

Following that ceremony, a fire show began and many of the people who were mingling quickly found their seats. A tremendous show -- let's call it the Macy's Day Parade of Slovakia -- is going on.

The party here is still continuing and doesn't look like its going to end. Next stop for the Cup will be Finland where backup netminder Tuuka Rask will get his day with Lord Stanley.

-- Paul Vinciguerra

Take a chance on 'Z'

07.23.2011 / 2:52 PM ET

Judging by the standing ovation from the 200 or so guests, the guest of honor has arrived. The festivities have kicked off with a speech from Chara, who I believe is thanking everyone (I am assuming since I don't speak Slovak).

I do find it odd that ABBA's "Take a Chance on Me" is playing in the background, but to each his own.

More to come …

-- Paul Vinciguerra

Chara headed for Trencin Castle

07.23.2011 / 2:37 PM ET

Well here it goes folks … the second big event on Chara's itinerary, the Trencin Castle.

"Big Z" should be here momentarily, but awaiting his arrival are fellow countrymen and last year's Cup winners -- Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky.

Along with those two are Marian Gaborik, Hossa's brother Marcel and Pavol Demitra. They're just a few names who round out this star-studded group of players from Slovakia.

-- Paul Vinciguerra

Fan catches Chara's shirt

07.23.2011 / 11:36 AM ET

Zdeno Chara arrived to this party wearing a shirt, but he might be leaving without one.

"Big Z" just took the shirt off his own back -- he is absolutely ripped -- and threw it into the crowd, where one luck fan just caught it. Hard to imagine this fan won't be giving the shirt back for free, that's for sure.

-- Paul Vinciguerra

The waiting is over

07.23.2011 / 11:16 AM ET

As the crowd works its way into a frenzy by band and host, the anticipation has finally come to an end.

The unofficial Boston Bruins song -- Wiz Khalifa's "Black and Yellow" -- starts playing and in comes the star of the party, team captain Zdeno Chara. The crowd is going nuts here as he raises the Cup above his head.

Chara then took over the drums and did not look out of place whatsoever. From there, he playfully arm wrestled a fan here -- and lost.

It's a real nice sight here.
-- Paul Vinciguerra

It's party time for Chara

07.23.2011 / 10:26 AM ET

Chara spent much of the morning with his family and friends taking pictures and relaxing. Now, "Big Z" gets ready to attend the two biggest events scheduled for him.

First up is the parade here in Trencin Square. The expected crowd is about 3,500, but from the looks of it, that is not accurate. It appears to be in upwards of 5,000.

Festivities have kicked off with partying and a live band while the crowd waits for Chara, who should arrive in less than an hour.

-- Paul Vinciguerra

Chara meets the mayor, hits the field

07.23.2011 / 5:23 AM ET

After spending around an hour with the mayor, Chara heads off to where it all began -- his former little league team, Dukla Trencin. 

Upon arrival, Chara was greeted by several hundred kids and adults. After spending some time signing autographs and posing for pictures, "Big Z" heads off to see his old coach.

After meeting with his former coach and attending a private reception with some sponsors, Chara heads off to the house where he grew up. 

-- Paul Vinciguerra

Oh, what a night

07.22.2011 / 12:48 PM ET

After nearly three hours of signing and posing for autographs, Big Z leaves the restaurant to go home change and come back to host a private party for his close friends and family. That concludes the night for Zdeno Chara. Oh yeah, by the way, it seems to have finally stopped raining.

-- Paul Vinciguerra

Cup arrives in Trencin

07.22.2011 / 9:41 AM ET

After about an hour car ride from Bratislava to Trencin, Chara settles into a private party at a local establishment, where members of the community gather for some food, drinks and, of course, autographs and pictures with Chara and the Cup.

-- Paul Vinciguerra

Taking the Cup home

07.22.2011 / 8:16 AM ET

After fulfilling some of his sponsorship obligations, Chara now is heading to his hometown of Trencin, which is approximate an hour away. And if I didn't mention this earlier -- it's still raining. 

-- Paul Vinciguerra

Working celebration

07.22.2011 / 6:47 AM ET

After the reception Chara heads off to do some interviews with some companies who are sponsoring his day with Cup.

-- Paul Vinciguerra

Meet the press

07.22.2011 / 5:36 AM ET

Chara starts his day much like last year's Slovakian cup winner, Marian Hossa, did. He is holding a press conference with about 50 or so media members followed by some autograph signings and a small reception.

-- Paul Vinciguerra

Chara gets the Cup

07.22.2011 / 4:21 AM ET

After two-plus hours, the Stanley Cup has arrived at the Double Tree at the Hilton hotel. Apparently news travels fast around Slovakia, because there are about 100 people awaiting the Cup's arrival. Standing tallest among the group -- literally -- is Zdeno Chara, who is awaiting the official transfer from Cup keeper Walt so the party officially can start.

Rolling up in a beautiful new car is none other the Stanley Cup and the handoff has occurred. After a brief photo session, Chara is off to start his day

-- Paul Vinciguerra

Day 3 Begins

07.22.2011 / 1:40 AM ET

The Stanley Cup begins its two-hour drive to Slovakia to meet up with Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.

-- Paul Vinciguerra

Party time

07.21.2011 / 2:02 PM ET

Having wrapped up the the public portion of the festivities for today, both Tomas Kaberle and David Krejci are heading to a private party to share the rest of their night with close friends and family.

The upcoming party will wrap up the time Krejci and Kaberle have been allotted with the Cup. Friday, we head off to Slovakia for Chara's day with the Cup.

-- Paul Vinciguerra

Best fans ever
07.21.2011 / 12:04 PM ET

As the festivities here in the center start wrapping up there really can't be enough said or written to describe these fans here in Czech.

Many braved the cold and freezing rain to see and take pictures with both Tomas Kaberle and David Krejci. Really good job by both the fans and the city for hosting such a wonderful event and not letting this weather slow them down one bit.

-- Paul Vinciguerra

The party is rolling again

07.21.2011 / 11:08 AM ET

What appeared to be a very low-key day now will ratchet up into what should be some real fun and excitement. At the town square there are roughly 3,500 people waiting to get a glimpse of the Stanley Cup and native Czechs Tomas Kaberle and David Krejci.

Also expected to be in attendance is the mayor and a host of bands and entertainers, which all was set up by the city here.

And did I mention that it's bucketing now? But that won't deter the people from cheering and partying. And for some of the lucky ones brave enough to fight the cold and rain, they'll get an autograph and picture with Kaberle, Krejci and the Cup.

-- Paul Vinciguerra

Time for a break

07.21.2011 / 8:32 AM ET

After shaking hands and posing for countless pictures, Krejci settles in for some relaxing before the party kicks back up at 5 p.m. local time.

-- Paul Vinciguerra

The party begins
07.21.2011 / 6:55 AM ET

After a missed wake-up call, a detour through Prague, traffic and a four-hour drive in the pouring, rain we finally made it to Krejci's house. Upon his arrival, Krejci was greeted by old friends and family. He now is taking pictures and shaking hands.

-- Paul Vinciguerra

Day 2 begins

07.21.2011 / 1:07 AM ET

As Tomas Kaberle's party with the Stanley Cup comes to an end, Day 2 of the Cup's time in the Czech Republic looks like it will bring much more of the same -- tons of rain and non-stop partying, only this time David Krejci get his opportunity to play town hero.

Krejci will begin his day with the Cup by driving approximately four hours to his home in Sternberk, where I am sure there is plenty planned. Accompanying Krejci on this long trip is Kaberle -- looks like some people just can't get enough of the Cup.

-- Paul Vinciguerra

An end to Day 1
07.20.2011 / 9:39 AM ET

After spending several hours signing and posing for pictures Kaberle and Krejci are off to enjoy the rest of the night at a private function. Sounds like a great end to the night.

-- Paul Vinciguerra

Krejci arrives
07.20.2011 / 8:45 AM ET

After spending several hours signing autographs for hundreds of people, David Krejci has shown up to get some face time with the Cup and some love from many autograph-seekers.

-- Paul Vinciguerra

Fans flock to Stanley
07.20.2011 / 5:38 AM ET

After a brief stop to take some pictures with the Cup, Kaberle just entered Kladno for a stop at Velky Tanecni Sal, which appears to be a Knights of Columbus-type establishment, where hundreds of people are waiting for an opportunity to see their Stanley Cup Champion and local hero.

Upon entering the hall, Kaberle was greeted by a band called The Hello Piggy Band. Kaberle was brought on stage and received a sword and shield. He also presented the Stanley Cup to the crowd and received a real hero's welcome when he hoisted the trophy over his head.

-- Paul Vinciguerra

Traveling with Stanley
07.20.2011 / 5:35 AM ET

Lord Stanley officially has landed in the Czech Republic and now is going through customs. Among the hundreds of hockey fans is an eager Tomas Kaberle.

When the Cup finally clears customs, Kaberle coolly walks over and hoists it out of the case to a nice ovation from the crowd.

Now Kaberle officially can kick off the party, and judging by the 20-motorcycle motorcade, this party might just last all night.

-- Paul Vinciguerra

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