One of the many wonderful things about the Stanley Cup is how tactile and accessible it is. Of all the championship trophies in professional sports, it is the most beautiful and it’s not even close. It’s also the most difficult to win, the one with the most history and the only one where those who worked so, so hard to win it – from superstars to fourth-liners – get to have their names etched on it for anywhere from 52 to 65 years.
It’s also the only one that goes to each player and staff member for a day during the off-season. And in that sense, it has brought untold joy to thousands of people. An off-season day rarely goes by where the Cup isn’t brought to a hospital or used as a means of raising charitable funds. And that would not be the case if it were stuck behind unbreakable glass for most of the year. In that way it almost feels like it belongs to everyone. It doesn’t, but sometimes it feels that way.
So how about the players who win it start using a little bit of common sense and treat it with the respect it deserves? Part of the tradition of the Stanley Cup is the abuse it has endured over the years, almost from the time it came into existence, from being kicked into the Rideau Canal to being set on fire to being brought to a gentleman’s establishment. Treating hockey’s ultimate prize like a piece of trash is certainly nothing new.
I bring this up because yesterday Robby Fabbri of the St. Louis Blues had his day with the Cup. He brought it to the rink where he played much of his minor hockey for a three-hour function and later brought it to a hospital. He had a party with his family and enjoyed the day with the guest of honor. But you know what he also did with it? He had his dogs eat spaghetti and meatballs out of it. That’s tame by Stanley Cup standards to be sure, but really? You work that hard to win that beautiful piece of hardware, which signifies the culmination of your dreams, and you let your dog eat spaghetti and meatballs out of it? Or you put your baby in there with no diaper and she poops in it? Or allow your horse to eat out of it? Toss it into a swimming pool? Or you do any host of other unmentionable things to it?
It prompted me to send out the following tweet, one I stand behind 100 percent.
Well, as many of you can imagine, I got what the kids called "ratioed." That means the response to my tweet was overwhelmingly negative, some of the worst I’ve ever seen. And that’s saying something. This led me to a couple of observations. One is that there is an inordinate number of idiotic cretins populating Twitter. The other was one of sheer disbelief that I had to defend myself for suggesting the Stanley Cup should be treated with a modicum of respect.
Here’s the thing with all those people who believe it’s just boys being boys and let them have their fun. The first is that these guys are part of a culture where respect is supposed to be paramount. They play for teams that embed their logos on the carpet in the dressing room, then cordon it off because God help us if somebody steps on it. Do you know what would happen to a player if he came off the ice after a game, then peeled off his sweater, rolled it up into a ball and tossed it on the floor for the equipment guy to pick up? Suffice to say he probably wouldn’t be healthy enough to play for the next month or so. These guys have so much respect for the Stanley Cup that they don’t even touch the Prince of Wales Trophy or Clarence Campbell Bowl when they win it. So perhaps they might want to treat it with the reverence it deserves.
The comment that baffled me most came from literally hundreds of responders who felt the need to point out that the Cup gets cleaned on a daily basis. Oh, well then that makes everything all right. Silly me, I thought it was about actually showing respect for the trophy. And let’s get one thing clear. The Cup the players receive in the summer is the actual Stanley Cup, the one that is awarded on the ice after the last game of the Stanley Cup final. There is a replica that sits in the Hockey Hall of Fame while the real Cup is away.
The NHL and Hall of Fame felt the need to have someone with the Cup after the New York Rangers won it all in 1994. A couple of years prior to that, it ended up in the bottom of Mario Lemieux’s swimming pool. There are guidelines that players receive when they get the Cup, but there are times when the Cup can’t be supervised. Nobody wants to see players deprived of the fun and pleasure they worked so hard all their lives to earn, but all anyone wants to see is common sense. The Cup is not a toilet, it’s not a dog bowl or a horse’s feed bag. Just because players won the trophy doesn’t mean they have the right to treat it any way they want. The Stanley Cup is a treasure and a public trust. It’s time to insist players treat it that way.
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