The Stanley Cup
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The Stanley Cup: A History of Abuse and Neglect
"One of the great rules of hockey is: On the Stanley Cup, all germs are healthy."
--George Vecsey, The New York Times, June 11, 1999
I got to touch the Stanley Cup. Me. I've ice skated only once in my life, I've never played a real game of hockey, I hadn't even seen a hockey game on television until high school (1990) and I didn't see one in person until January 1999. Still, I touched something that I imagine most serious hockey players don't get to touch their entire lives--the oldest trophy that can be won by professional athletes in North America, the Stanley Cup.
How did this I get to touch the cup? In 1998, the Detroit Red Wings won their second consecutive Cup. Every member of the winning team gets the Cup and its entourage of bodyguards for twenty-four hours in the subsequent summer. One of the Red Wings on that '98 team, Grand Rapids Michigan-native Mike Knuble (actually, he's from the Grand Rapids suburb of Kentwood, but why fret over details?), brought the Cup to his old high school, East Kentwood High School. Though I write these words in Chicago, I'm originally from Grand Rapids, and I happened to be in town the same time as the Cup. Up to 500 fans (four of whom were me, my sister Michelle, and my cousins Adam and Kristy) were, upon paying an admission fee, allowed to touch it and take a snapshot or two with it and spend a grand total of maybe 10 seconds with the Cup.
(Good thing I took the chance when I had it. Three weeks after he came with the Cup, Mike Knuble was traded away from the Wings to the New York Rangers.)
In my few seconds with the Cup, the thing that struck me most about it was that it felt...fragile. The Stanley Cup had a consistency that honestly made me think of tin foil, thin and not the least bit resilient. I know otherwise that it's plenty resilient, but still I couldn't help but be astonished and think that this trophy, probably more than ...
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