The Stanley Cup. A 34 and 1/2-pound silver trophy that is easily one of the most recognizable pieces of championship hardware in all of sports. It’s significance is unmistakable; the hoisting and passing between teammates is the end-result of eight to nine grueling months of ups and downs that has culminated with ultimate victory and a declaration that one cannot be defeated. Yes, the cup brings about a sense of accomplishment and success and categorizes those who are lucky enough to capture it as eternal winners.
The value of the trophy isn’t determined by physical appearance, rather, it is measured by emotions and other feelings that are sometimes beyond comprehension for some. For children fighting for their lives in hospitals worldwide, they get it. They are used to fighting when they know that they cannot afford to lose. For them, the Stanley Cup reaffirms that victory is always a possibility. It gives them hope and purpose and motivates them to keep moving forward when the world continuously tries to knock them down. This is the power of the cup.
Fred Shero once said: “Win today, and we walk together forever”. This is motto that those faced with life-threatening illnesses can live by each day. Times aren’t always easy, in fact, they sometimes can be mostly challenging and deflating.
Enter the Stanley Cup
A young hockey player from Colorado named Logan has been granted a wish due to suffering from a life-threatening cancer. He can have anything he wants; a trip to Disney, a chance to meet a famous celebrity, a man-made ice rink in his own back yard. The choices are endless. With the opportunity to select just about anything, Logan opts for a symbolic wish. He requests to spend the day with the Stanley Cup.
Logan isn’t the only player on his team with cancer and the thought of being able to spread the idea of perseverance and courage meant more to him that any other trip or gift. His hockey coach, John McKibbon, has never seen anything like it and admits he probably won’t see anything similar again.
“There’s no way I can describe it to you. I don’t think I’ll ever see the human spirit displayed in that way again.”
On Logan’s day with the cup, he was surprised with it’s delivery as he thought he was in for a typical day of regularly-scheduled medical tests. Once the cup arrived and he scoured over to take in its illustrious history, he did what he felt was the next best thing – he displayed it in the hospital for other patients to see and experience before taking it to his local ‘barn’ for the community that he was trying to bring together to see.
While Logan’s teammate sadly did not come out victorious against cancer, the symbolism of the cup was still very much obvious. The message was to never give up and believe. This is the power of the cup.
STANLEY CUP WINNERS KNOW THE SIGNIFICANCE
For as long as Stanley Cup winners have been given the trophy to do with it whatever they please for one day a piece, the cup has been making its rounds to visit sick children all over the world. For sick children and their families, it means the world to them for these players to bring such a relevant symbol with the intent of continuing to build hope and excitement in a community that often experiences both few and far between.
After winning it all in the summer of 2009, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby took the cup to a local hospital and was astounded when he saw just how much it meant to everybody.
Most recently, a trio from the 2014-15 NHL Champion Chicago Blackhawks made their rounds with the cup and it was nothing short of spectacular for the player and fans involved.
Antoine Vermette, now of the Arizona Coyotes, went north to meet the cup and he began his day with it by showcasing it to sick children at a local hospital in Quebec City.
— Philip Pritchard (@keeperofthecup) July 25, 2015
Bryan Bickell did the same on his day with the cup, by taking it to to visit sick children in Toronto.
— Philip Pritchard (@keeperofthecup) July 1, 2015
Chicago Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz arranged for the cup to make an appearance on the pediatric unit at Evanston Hopsital. During a time that can often be doom and gloom, these children and their parents were so appreciative to be able to share in the joys of a championship for the hometown team as well as experience the success, comfort and positivity that the trophy represents.
— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) July 2, 2015
Kevin Tietz, whose four-month old son faces multiple post-birth challenges, was especially grateful to be in the presence of the Stanley Cup. “This is phenomenal; a day I’ll never forget. It’s been a long road for us and it’s absolutely amazing.”
IT’S MORE THAN JUST A GAME
To some, the Stanley Cup merely represents the crowning of a champion in a major sports league. To so many other, however, it means much more. It’s a symbol that reminds one to never stop fighting, no matter the circumstance. It’s a beacon of hope and encouragement that helps push those dealing with life’s most intense battles. Most importantly of all, it’s a vessel that brings everybody together and let’s it be known that nobody is alone. Nobody needs to battle through life’s misfortunes by themselves. Everybody cares; hockey cares.
Do you have an experience with the Stanley Cup that you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments and/or on twitter @healedbyhockey
Zach Hopkins is a life-long hockey fan from the suburbs of Philadelphia. Aside from studying, watching and playing the game, he can be found teaching it to his four-year-old son who can now name all 30 teams and their best players and can differentiate between all 30 goal horns. At The Hockey Writers, Zach is a Philadelphia Flyers contributor.