I grew up in Toronto, Canada, which also happens to be the home of the Hockey Hall of Fame. In elementary school, whether you were a budding superstar on skates or an anemic bookworm wholeheartedly against physical exertion of any kind, your annual field trip to the capital of all things hockey was a good day. It was a day to get away from the classroom to be sure, but it was also a day devoted to feeling a little bit of pride in what your country was all aboot, a day to bask in the sterling glow of Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Before last Thursday, I hadn’t seen Stanley in a minute. Then again, I had never seen it look as good as it did last Thursday when it was hoisted into the air by Los Angles Kings captain Dustin Brown to bathe in the Southland sun at the team’s victory parade. Soon after the hoist came the somehow surprising explosion of streamers, confetti and faux-Angeleno anthems. It was a moment to remember–the first and maybe only time I would live in a city with a Cup. The fact that the Kings had never won it before was just icing on the cake.
So, even if you don’t give a whit about hockey, what’s the deal with the Cup? Why is it due all this homage? Well, it’s easily the oldest and possibly the most revered piece of hardware in professional sports, and there’s a hell of a lot of tradition involved in claiming the thing. For one, soon after winning it, you have to take it back to the locker room and drink champagne from it. Not bad, eh?
There’s another ritual that’s a little less familiar to the public: The Cup spends the off-season traveling the continent and, depending on the constituent parts on the trophy-winning team, the globe to spend a day or so with every player, coach, and staff member. Past winners have enjoyed their time with Stanley creatively: Some have taken the Cup to the movies to hold popcorn, to strip clubs to impress strippers, and to churches to baptize children. So, how will the Los Angeles Kings spend summer 2012with the Cup? What else makes this trophy different from all the rest? Well, part of the reason I went to the Kings parade was to find out. Take a listen, won’t you?