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The Cup changes everything

by Mike G. Morreale

The Stanley Cup is arguably the most famous trophy in the sporting world and is the only award passed from player to player in the summer their team wins the championship series.
The Stanley Cup visits The Hockey Show
It has logged more than 400,000 miles in travel the past five seasons and has raised more than $4 million for charity over the last three.

It's arguably the most famous trophy in the sporting world and is the only award passed from player to player in the summer their team wins the championship series.

Yes, the Stanley Cup really does change everything. This spring, either the Pittsburgh Penguins or Detroit Red Wings will experience those emotions associated with winning the Cup. The teams face off in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday (8 p.m., VERSUS, CBC, RDS, NHL Radio) at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

"The Cup is so special and it should come on an as-earned basis," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "I've been fortunate as this is my second time in six years having an opportunity to coach in the Stanley Cup Final. That means you coach really good players and have good people around you."

In 2003, Babcock's Anaheim Ducks dropped a thrilling seven-game series to the New Jersey Devils in the championship round. Despite the defeat, Babcock never forgot the experience.

"People that haven't been in it don't understand that the playoffs are totally different than the Stanley Cup Final, in my opinion," Babcock said. "There's so much more excitement and energy in the Final since the players are living out their dreams. Sometimes it's hard holding your stick; you're trying to put your hands over your head all the time trying to hold that thing. You just got to stay focused."

Pittsburgh forward Ryan Malone will never forget when his father, Greg, brought home the Cup. Greg Malone was the chief scout for the Penguins in 1991 and `92 when the club garnered back-to-back Stanley Cups.

"At the time Pittsburgh won the Cup, we had a townhome and my dad invited the neighborhood to see the Cup," Malone recalled. "It turned into this huge street party with the Cup and I was around 13 years old at the time. It was awesome. I still have pictures of all my friends I grew up with getting pictures with the Cup, and it was really something special."

Malone recalls touching the Cup at that time, because he had no clue that he ever would have another opportunity to get that close.

"I did touch it since I didn't know if I'd ever be in that situation again," Malone said. "I did try to pick it up, but at the time it was pretty heavy. So I never had a chance to lift it over my head."

Pittsburgh Executive Vice President and General Manager Ray Shero recalls his days following his father, Fred, in 1974 when the Philadelphia Flyers claimed the first of two straight Stanley Cups.

"I was 12 years old (in 1974) when the Flyers beat the Rangers in seven games and then went on to play Boston in the Cup Final and I have all kinds of memories," Shero said. "I remember every pregame skate and game with my father. The amazing thing is that I have two boys now (ages 9 and 12), and they are doing the same thing – growing up around the game. It was a real exciting time and I feel the similarities between then and now are that, in Philly, the fans really became attached to the hockey team and really rallied around them. I feel the same type of thing is happening in Pittsburgh right now. The fan base is really connecting with the team and identifying with them."

Experience and poise are necessary when a team is just four wins shy of claiming the Cup.

"We have a pretty young team, but some good veterans, as well," Shero said. "We talk about having a young team with Sid (Crosby), 20, and (Evgeni) Malkin, 21, but let's not forget they are already star players in this League. They're ready to take that next step, which I believe they have done this year. I've been very impressed with the poise our entire team has shown throughout the playoffs.

"Whenever we've faced adversity, we've been able to bounce back, battle and refocus. We realize we'll face a lot of adversity against Detroit, but we've responded very well all year and we'll just need to keep that up."

Ten players on Detroit's roster have, at one time, hoisted the Stanley Cup – Darren McCarty, Kirk Maltby, Kris Draper, Tomas Holmstrom, Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Chris Osgood, Brian Rafalski, Dominik Hasek and Pavel Datsyuk. The Penguins have just three players – Petr Sykora, Gary Roberts and Darryl Sydor – with Stanley Cup rings.

"I think experience is a great thing," Babcock said. "When you don't have it you think it's overrated, and when you have it, it's great. It makes you better and more poised. You understand what's going to take place."

Contact Mike Morreale at


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