Stanley Cup flew to Montreal early last week for a little R and R. Ever since the New York Rangers won custody of Stanley on June 14, the Cup has been runnething all over town. Like a loose puck it has been slapped from bar to nightclub to ballpark to ballroom to racetrack to squad car to firehouse to strip joint. Along the way it has been kissed, petted, hugged, massaged, fondled and shaken in exultation by thousands of fans. Many have taken sips from its ample bowl. "God only knows whose lips have been on that thing," says Bruce Lifrieri, the Rangers' massage therapist.
New York faithful hadn't had their hands on the Cup in 54 years, and their celebratory pawing took its toll: The Cup was beginning to look as if it had been crashing around the rink with the hockey players. Which is why Stanley was finally shipped off to a Montreal silversmith for repair.
Was the Cup scratched? Chipped? Nicked?
"There was a little bit of everything," reports Louise St. Jacques, who helped with soldering. The bowl was cracked, the base was loose, the body dented. "I can't say the Rangers did a terrible thing to the Cup," St. Jacques says. "It just needs to be pampered, that's all."
July 24, 1994
Pampered? No way. Roughhousing is part of the trophy's tradition. Over its 101 years, the Cup has been lost, hidden, stolen, dismantled, left on the side of a road, chucked in a graveyard, drop-kicked into Ottawa's Rideau River and used as an ashtray, a peanut dish and a planter for geraniums. Fourteen years ago Clark Gillies of the New York Islanders let his dog slurp out of the Cup. Three years ago Stanley was found at the bottom of Pittsburgh Penguin Mario Lemieux's swimming pool. But the greatest injustice of all might have been perpetrated by the 1940 Rangers, who used the Cup as a chamber pot. Hall of Famer Lynn Patrick and his teammates baptized Stanley with post-victory piddle.
The 1994 Rangers are making sure their title is well-urned. Mark Messier and Brian Leetch made Stanley do Stupid Cup Tricks on David Letterman's Late Show. Ed Olczyk carted it to Belmont racetrack and let Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin use it as a feed bag. But for sheer profaneness nobody beat Brian Noonan and Nick Kypreos, who brought the Cup on MTV Prime Time Beach House and allowed it to be stuffed with raw clams and oysters. (On the show, Noonan denied he had used the Cup as a rolling pin to make muffins. Kypreos, who addressed the Cup as Lord Stanley, swore he hadn't played kick the can with it. Lord Stanley, appearing in a T-shirt, baseball cap and false mustache, was in no condition to argue.)
Ole Peterson thinks such shenanigans are blasphemous. Peterson, a former silversmith whose family was commissioned by the NHL in 1962 to redesign the Cup, thinks Stanley's reputation is ruined. "The amount of disrespect shown it is mind-boggling," says the 67-year-old Montrealer. "I don't blame the Rangers. They've waited 54 years. I do blame the NHL. It should tighten its control over exuberant players. These jocks should not be behaving like jerks."
That said, here are the highlights of Stanley's adventures this summer:
JUNE 14: Five hours after captain Messier and Lord Stanley skate triumphantly around the rink in Madison Square Garden following New York's victory over the Vancouver Canucks to clinch the NHL championship, the Cup shows up at a Ranger victory party in a Manhattan saloon called the Auction House. "The Cup stopped traffic and started a parade wherever it went," says Auction House proprietor Johnny Barounis. "It was the leader of the pack, a kind of Pied Piper, and it made people do a lot of crazy things."
Everyone wants to swig champagne out of Stanley. The more notable swiggers on this night include John McEnroe, actor Tim Robbins and Rod Gilbert, who never got to hoist Stanley in 18 years as a Ranger. When Gilbert accepts Messier's offer to drink from the Cup, Wall Street analyst Mike McAvoy, a Ranger fan for 28 of his 36 years, tilts the brimming bowl toward Gilbert. Gilbert takes a long swallow and exclaims, "Now I can go home." McAvoy declines to take a gulp. "I don't feel worthy enough," he explains.
When the barkeeps run out of Cristal, they switch to Dom Perignon, then White Star and, finally, Budweiser. "By closing time, we were down to backwash," says Barounis, "but we could have spat in the Cup and people still would have wanted to drink out of it."
Amid all the rock and revelry, Ranger Esa Tikkanen empties the Cup and brings it out to the street. "This trophy isn't for the players," he says, lifting Stanley skyward. "We won it for you, the good people of New York." The good people stand in a conga line and pass the 32-pound symbol of hockey supremacy down 89th Street toward the East River.
Was Barounis afraid someone might run off with the Cup?
"Hell, no," he says. "Where you gonna run with that thing?"
Another time, Messier runs Stanley over to Scores, an East Side strip joint, thereby reviving a topless tradition he started in 1987 with his former team, the Edmonton Oilers, when he took his teammates and the Cup to a local dive. The clientele at Scores appreciates the gesture. "It was the first time I'd seen our customers eager to touch something besides our dancers," says Scores spokesman Lonnie Hanover. Stanley, in fact, becomes an integral part of the striptease show. The Cup dancing consists mostly of advanced aerobics, without, as it turns out, a lot of erotic content. What you'd call these gyrations is, of course, a matter of taste, which is never much of an issue at Scores.
JUNE 16: Ranger defenseman Sergei Zubov commandeers the Cup to a bash he's hosting at Restaurant National, a Russian nightclub in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn. Sausaged between Kings Fish Market and Andy's Womans World, the restaurant was prominently featured in the film Moscow on the Hudson. "We not fill Cup with borscht!" insists the club's manager, Simon Maklin. "Nobody touch him. When Rangers eat, I take him away from stage and put him inside office. When we wanna make a picture, I bring him out." Maklin promises that a photo of Stanley will hang on his Wall of Fame, between those of Jackie Mason and the wife of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.
JUNE 17: Stanley is feted in a ticker-tape parade up Broadway, where it rides in a float with Mayor Rudy Giuliani's hockey-mad eight-year-old son, Andrew. After the parade and a few rounds at McSorley's bar, a cop named Jim Jones (not that Jim Jones) straps a seat belt around the Cup in his squad car and delivers it to another engagement.
JUNE 20: Kypreos and Leetch pace the deck of the China Club, popping champagne corks and showering open-mouthed patrons with bubbly. Meanwhile, freelance photographer Dominick Conde charges $20 for an 8-by-10 black-and-white glossy of anyone who wants to pose with Stanley. "People lined up like they were going to church," recalls Conde. "It was like the Cup was the Virgin Mary or something." Among the congregation are Jerry Rice, Brooke Shields and New York Yankee outfielder Daryl Boston, whose pinch-hit homer earlier that evening had beaten the Minnesota Twins. About the only customer who expressly says he won't pose with Stanley is Mickey Rourke, the actor turned prizefighter manquè. Maybe the Cup looked too much like the tomato cans he's fought.
JUNE 21: A press credential is issued at Yankee Stadium in the name of Stanley Cup, the homeliest pitcher since Warren Spahn. In the home clubhouse, though, the craven Yanks are worshiping a knockoff: the Stano Cup—a tinfoil-covered water jug that reposes in the locker of catcher Mike Stanley. When Messier, Leetch and Kypreos tote their Cup into the locker room, third baseman Wade Boggs offers to trade Stano for Stanley even-up.
A little later, the silver-plated Stanley waits in the dugout as Messier straps on the gear of the pinstriped Stanley and catches Steve Howe in the bullpen. Howe invites the Cup and its three Ranger keepers to the Yankees' pregame kangaroo court. The Rangers are each fined $5 for upstaging Boston's visit to the China Club the night before. "Daryl went to the club thinking he'd be treated as a hero," says Ranger p.r. man Barry Watkins, "but no one even recognized him. All anyone cared about was the Cup."
Stanley watches the game from George Steinbrenner's box. Watkins wants to set the Cup down in the row behind his seat. "No, let it watch the game," snarls Leetch. But when Watkins props Stanley on a folding chair, Kypreos snaps, "The Cup doesn't like an aisle. It likes a middle." (And you think you had a hard time finding a seat for the Stanley Cup.)
With 27,000 Yankee fans cheering "Let's Go Rangers!" the Bombers beat the Twins 6-4. "I saw the Stanley Cup all day," says Yankee shortstop Mike Gallego. "It was nice to sit there and think maybe we could have a World Series trophy soon."
It was just as nice to think of Stanley's hospital visit earlier that day. The Cup had dropped in on Brian Bluver, a 13-year-old awaiting a heart transplant at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. "When Brian saw the Cup, he smiled for the first time in seven weeks," says his father, Bill. "He was too weak to speak, yet I'd never seen him so happy. A week and a half later Brian had 11th-hour heart surgery. I think the Cup was a tremendous part of helping him stay alive."
JULY 1: Before Go for Gin sticks his head where it doesn't belong, Olczyk pays a call on Tony D'Onofrio, cashier at a tobacconist in Rye, N.Y. The previous weekend, Olczyk had left D'Onofrio and his wife, Peggy, a cryptic message: "On Friday, remember to bring your camera. I'll have a little surprise for you."
On Friday, some 400 Stan Fans await the Cup's arrival at the smoke shop. "I'm so sorry," says D'Onofrio to Olczyk. "I only told one person."
JULY 2: Stanley attends a pool party at the Armonk, N.Y., home of Ranger physician Ron Weissman. "We had seen a photo of the horse and the Cup," says Weissman. "So before filling it with champagne, we made sure to clean it out a couple of extra times."
JULY 7: Lifrieri and Stanley make the rounds in suburban White Plains. They hit the Pedigree Ski & Tennis Shop, Mr. C's Deli and the office of Dr. Irwin Miller, a.k.a. Miller the Driller, one of the Rangers' two dentists. Finally, the Cup turns up at the Sunshine Pizza Lounge. "That's not the Stanley Cup!" brays a customer. "It doesn't even look like it."
"Yes it is," says Lifrieri. "It's the real deal."
"In White Plains? Get outta here! Who are you trying to kid?"
I'm not kidding!"
"Right!" says the customer, who returns to his slice of pizza.
JULY 8: Ranger equipment trainer Joe Murphy lovingly lugs Stanley to the Providence Rest Nursing Home in the Bronx. The nuns running the home treat the Cup like a sacred relic. They set it on a pedestal and swaddle it in blue velvet. "The Cup is not the Holy Grail," says Sister Joanne, "but it is something very, very special."
JULY 11: It is five in the morning, the sun is not quite up, and Kypreos, Lifrieri and Stanley are sitting poolside at a hotel in the Hamptons. "It's not often you get quiet time with the Cup," says Lifrieri. The silver bowl throws back the moonlight. "It looks like a star," he says. "A gleaming star."
Suddenly, Kypreos stands up, grabs Stanley and heads for his room. "See you later," he says. "We're going to bed."