Q: What are some of the coolest places you’ve been to with it?
A: I’d never been to Europe before working with the Hall of Fame. I’ve been to probably about a dozen different countries now — Czech Republic, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden, Germany. I’ve been to Russia the last three summers in a row now, to Moscow. It’s been a great experience. And being able to travel all over the U.S. and Canada — I’ve been to all the provinces now and probably over 40 states, so it’s been great.
Q: What was your favorite experience with an individual player’s day of celebration?
A: It’s so hard, there’s so many good ones, it’s really hard to pick a certain player. So many guys. Going to Europe for the very first time was pretty cool, I think 2011, hanging out with [Boston goaltender] Tuukka Rask. He took us to a traditional Finnish spa, so we were in the saunas quite a bit, jumping in and out of the lakes, having some great food, singing Finnish karaoke at the end of the night. It was a challenge but it was a lot of fun.
I went with [former Los Angeles defenseman] Willie Mitchell one time, they picked us up in Vancouver in helicopters, brought us over some mountain ranges and some river beds and we went fly fishing for the day. That was pretty cool, something totally different than what a lot of guys typically do. It was quite a cool experience. We had the Cup on a dinghy out on the water, and we were able to get a photo of that and we had helicopters hovering over top, too. I even put on the waders, I was in the river, too. I never caught anything, but I had fun trying.
Q: To babysit the Stanley Cup on a daily basis — you can’t let it out of your sight, you carry it everywhere, on airplanes, in and out of vans. What kind of a responsibility is that?
A: I guess I would consider it a huge responsibility. It’s hockey’s greatest trophy, it’s the NHL’s greatest marketing tool. It’s considered by most fans like the Holy Grail of all trophies. I take that responsibility as something with pride and privilege and an honor to do. I never really expected to really be able to travel with it and hang around it as much as I do. I am with it more than the players. But to be able to take it around to the fans, all you see is happy faces everywhere you go. It is a privilege to do that. It’s a big responsibility, we have a tight schedule to follow, but to get it to the locations that we have to get it to in a timely manner, sometimes there are delays with the airlines, with the weather and stuff, but we try to make it work as much as we can.
Q: What do you often see when fans react to it?
A: There’s all kinds of different emotions with the fans. They’re all excited, they’re happy to see it, and you see fans with tears in their eyes. It’s something special for the fans. I don’t think I understood it before. As I was growing up, it’s kind of a cool thing, it’s just a trophy, but it really is more than a trophy, it means a lot of things to a lot of people. It’s very special.
Q: What are some of the craziest/weirdest interactions with fans over it?
A: Fans love to get their photos with it, hug it, touch it, kiss it. A few fans lick it every once in a while. I don’t understand that, it’s a little weird. The Cup just brings out something in them that they kind of forget where they are. The one thing that they do a lot is put babies in the bowl. That’s a great photo for a Christmas card or something, but I’ve seen fans put an urn inside the bowl with a relative’s ashes, and we’ve seen stuffed animals put in, something that’s special for their kids. Nowadays with social media, if maybe a family member isn’t able to be there, we’ll suggest that they maybe use FaceTime or something on their phones, lean it against the Cup and then take a picture of that, so they could kind of be there at the same time, too.
And players like to eat out of it and drink out of it. I’ve seen everything from cereal to ice cream to chicken wings, pierogis, spaghetti, caviar … Dogs have eaten dog food out of it, horses have eaten hay out of it, there’s been a few animals involved here and there.
Q: When going to a non-traditional hockey area, do you still see the same kind of reverence for it that you do everywhere else?
A: Yeah. Coming to the smaller towns in Canada or into the United States where it’s a non-traditional hockey market, this summer I’ve been very surprised, too. The fans in St. Louis were incredible, not having won the Cup before and waiting for it for a long time. But they were very happy, the hospitality’s been great. A lot of times, for the most part, the fans have been very patient and polite and just happy to be able to see the Cup. You get into other areas where you wouldn’t think there’s a lot of hockey, into some of the Southern states, like in Oklahoma and places like Texas, too — there’s a lot of hockey played down here and a lot of people don’t even realize that. It’s a popular sport that’s becoming more popular all the time.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.