|Former Penguin Phil Bourque is the only NHL player to have his name engraved outside and inside the Stanley Cup. |
The Stanley Cup always seems to be on the go, especially in the summer with its very busy travel schedule. Players whose team wins the Cup get to keep it for a day and often want to party with the trophy. The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Cup in 1991 and 1992 and Penguins players added to the Cup's legend by taking it for a swim in Mario Lemieux's pool — and breaking it.
Because it broke, Phil Bourque ended up with his name on both the outside and inside of the Cup.
"I was trying to start a little tradition," said Bourque, now a broadcaster for the Penguins. "I just kind of etched my name on the inside and put the team I was with, the year I won it and put in quotations, 'Enjoy it.'"
Hanging out with the Cup is the reward for winning 16 games in the playoffs. The Penguins missed the postseason in 1989-90 partially due a back injury that sidelined Lemieux for a good portion of the season. There were changes after the Penguins missed the playoffs for a seventh time in eight years: Pittsburgh hired Bob Johnson as coach, selected Jaromir Jagr fifth in the 1990 Entry Draft and added former New York Islanders star Bryan Trottier, a four-time Cup winner, for his leadership skills.
With all of those moves, Pittsburgh was still struggling. After 31 games, the Penguins were nine points out of a postseason berth. But General Manager Craig Patrick made some key trades, picking up defenseman Larry Murphy and forward Scott Young. Then, in March, Patrick acquired Ron Francis, Ulf Samuelsson and Grant Jennings from the Hartford Whalers for John Cullen, Zarley Zalapski and Jeff Parker. That deal turned around the season and helped Pittsburgh head into the playoffs with some momentum.
Pittsburgh beat New Jersey in seven games in the first round, took out Washington in five games in Round 2, beat Boston in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals and needed six games to beat Minnesota to win the Stanley Cup. It had been a long season and after it was done, it was time for Bourque and his teammates to "enjoy it."
The Cup spent a night partying at Lemieux's house, and the players decided to cool it off by taking it for a swim. The Cup was presumably dried off and handed to the next player or coach or executive with the organization. By the time it got to Bourque, he heard something rattling inside the Cup and knew it needed a repair job.
"It was by accident," Bourque recalled. "We were allowed to have it for a week, or three or four days. When I got the Cup there was a bolt that was loose on the inside. It is very easy to take the bottom off of it and when I took the bottom off, I proceeded to fix the loose nut, and I noticed some French names that were carved inside. They had repaired the Cup in the 1940s and that is where I got the idea from."
"I just etched it in with a screw driver. There was nothing malicious or anything like that. It was just a little thing I started and hopefully it will continue. The bottom is just a little plastic thing that comes off with three or four bolts, and I was trying to repair it."
Going inside the Stanley Cup can be a little tricky, but that was no problem for Bourque.
"I had it right in the middle of my living room floor, so there was plenty of light. We got it on video tape too," Bourque said.
But isn't the Stanley Cup fragile? Shouldn't it be handled only by experienced people who repair trophies for a living?
"No, there is not much to break," said Bourque. "There are only two pieces, the bottom and the rest of the Cup. I wanted to make sure I put it back together."
So if anyone wants to go inside the Cup, they will find an unexpected name.
"When I got the Cup there was a bolt that was loose on the inside. It is very easy to take the bottom off of it and when I took the bottom off, I proceeded to fix the loose nut, and I noticed some French names that were carved inside. They had repaired the Cup in the 1940s and that is where I got the idea from." - Phil Bourque
"It says Phil Bourque, Pittsburgh Penguins, 90-91, Enjoy it!" said Bourque.
And enjoy it the Penguins did. As far as the Cup taking a dip in the pool, well, Stanley needs some swimming lessons.
"It doesn't float," Bourque said. "We put it in Mario's pool and it sinks in a matter of 10 seconds. We didn't want to hurt it because you got to respect the Cup, but you want have some fun with it too."
Bourque knew a lot of the old stories about the Cup, about how Clark Gillies took the Cup home with him after the Islanders beat the Philadelphia Flyers in 1980 and let his dog eat out of it. He also knew the story of Red Kelly's infant son Conn, who Red suspected took care of his business while he was posing for pictures.
"I am sure there are more stories than you can fit right now that a lot of guys don't want to talk about," Bourque chuckled. "We never abused it, we did some fun things with it – again, Mario's pool and drinking out of it, that is the historic thing to do, babies sitting in it, dogs eating out of it. Everybody has done all of that.
"I got it from (Penguins executive and one time NFL defensive back) Paul Martha. You have maybe hundreds or thousands of people handling it and after a while, things are going to come loose inside and when I got it, it was like that and I just wanted to fix it."
As far as anyone can tell, Bourque is the only player to have his name etched on the outside panels of the Cup and inside the trophy as well.
Author: Evan Weiner | NHL.com Correspondent