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A Conversation with the Keeper of the Cup, Mike Bolt

by Greg Ramirez / Dallas Stars

Mike Bolt doesn’t like to brag about his job. Then again, he doesn’t have to. That’s because as far as jobs go, he’s probably got one of the best. Bolt works for the Hockey Hall of Fame and gets to travel with the Stanley Cup – You read that correctly, the Stanley Cup. With the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins fighting for hockey’s ultimate prize, Bolt shared some of his experiences and insights about getting to work with one of the most recognizable trophies in all of sports.

Mike Bolt How does one get a job like this?

Mike Bolt:
I have no idea (laughs). I started out working at the Hockey Hall of Fame (HHOF) in Toronto 16 years ago and have traveled with the Cup for the last 12.  I was appointed by our Curator and Vice President Phil Pritchard back in late 1999 and started traveling in the year 2000. One day they asked me if I wanted to travel with the Cup -- I obviously said yes -- and here I am 12 years later still doing it.

DS: I imagine you are on the road quite a bit. How many days out of the year would you say you travel with the Stanley Cup?

The Cup is on the road for about 320 days out of the year and on average I’d say I’m on the road for about 250 of those days. I’ve been to Russia, Sweden, the Arctic Circle, coast-to-coast in the United States, and Canada. If you look at a map, I’ve probably been within a 100 to 200 mile radius anywhere in North America.

DS: What is the process of moving the Stanley Cup from point A to point B? Do you ever get nervous the airline will lose the Cup when you check it in?

It’s pretty nerve-wracking hoping that they [the airline], understand the magnitude of what they are transporting. You don’t always get a hockey fan checking you in, but usually when you open it up and show it to them and explain what it is, they realize what an important piece of luggage it is. For the most part, they do a very good job taking care of it. It is under lock-and-key once it’s inspected, so once we send it off through security and watch it go through the back, we sit on the plane wondering ‘what if?, what if?’ Things usually go smoothly though.

DS: You mentioned that you’ve traveled to so many different places with the Cup, what’s been your favorite place to travel?

There are so many different spots. If you are going to make me pick one, I’d have to say Afghanistan. To be able to go over there with the Stanley Cup and put a smile on the soldier’s faces was a rewarding and fun experience. At the same time though, the fact that we were in a war zone was very evident. We had a missile attack our first year there. So as much fun as we had, the realities of war were there. Overall, it was a very memorable experience.

DS: What’s the maintenance like?

During the season when we let people touch it, we give it a cleaning with a wet cloth and a buff shining. In the summer when the players are drinking and eating out of it, we literally wash it – whether it’s putting it in the shower with soap and water or grabbing the family garden hose and hosing it down in the driveway – those are the two best ways to clean it.

DS: What’s the craziest story you have of traveling with the Cup?

Oh gosh, so many stories. Last season when Adam Burish won the Cup he had it up at his family’s lake house at a party with a bunch of his friends that he played hockey with in Wisconsin. I was just sitting there, and then all of the sudden, the University of Wisconsin band came out of the woods and started playing music personally for Adam and his family. Considering that Wisconsin has one of the better bands in college sports, it was a pretty cool experience.

DS: Could you imagine doing anything else for a living?

It’s a great honor and privilege to be able to travel with the Cup. Even after 12 years, it still feels that way. To be able to be lucky enough to spend each summer with the winning team, or any of the other numerous events we do through the year, it’s a pretty neat job. It’s not for everybody but it’s a lot of fun. As I always tell people I dreamed of playing for it someday, but that dream never came even close to happening so if you can’t play for it, you might as well look after it.

DS: Anything else you want to add?

If you want to read about some other great stories you can go to the Hall of Fame website,, click on Stanley Cup journal, and you can read about any person’s day with the Cup.

Stanley Cup By The Numbers:

16 – Number of wins it takes in the playoffs for a team to claim the Stanley Cup.

400,000 – Number of miles the Stanley Cup has logged over the past five seasons. That’s roughly the distance from the earth to the moon and back, or 55 times around planet earth.

35 – Weight of the Stanley Cup in pounds. It is the heaviest of the four major championship trophies (NHL, NFL, MLB, NBA).

2 feet, 11 inches – height of the Stanley Cup from the tip to the chalice.

2,163 – Number of names that have been inscribed on the Cup.

5 – Number of rings that make up the Stanley Cup. Thirteen years worth of champions can fit on a single ring, once the bottom ring is full, another one the same size is removed from the top of the chalice and retired at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

$48.67 – Amount the Stanley Cup was purchased for in 1893 by Lord Frederick Stanley. Lord Stanley wanted a challenge cup for the best hockey team in Canada. Although it’s impossible to place a value on the Stanley Cup today it’s valued at over $1 million.

1917 – The year the Seattle Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup. They were the first American based team to do so.

1927 – The year the Stanley Cup was first awarded to the victor of the NHL Playoffs. The Cup was awarded to the Ottawa Senators that season, who defeated the Boston Bruins.

3 – Number of Stanley Cups that exist. The original, which was presented to the victor on the ice until 1970, now sits permanently in a vault at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. A second Cup, the “presentation trophy” was created in 1963 by a Montreal silversmith. This is the Cup that the players lift over their heads when they win and also serves for promotions. The third version - or “replica” - is used as a stand in for the Cup that is at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

12 – Number of women who have their name on the Cup. The first was Marguerite Norris in 1955 who was the president of the Detroit Red Wings.

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