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Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Stanley Cup In Japan

After yesterday’s peek into my nerdness whereby I explained a Star Trek scenario involving a doomed starship with the Japanese name of the Kobayashi Maru… let me also state that I am a hockey fan... and I even played sports, excelled at most of them, and have coached soccer and baseball for a lot of years.

By the way, when I say 'hockey', that’s ice hockey, in case you were wondering. In Canada we don’t say “ice hockey”, because it’s a given that we mean hockey. It would be like one working for the Department of Redundancy Department.

I have been learning about hockey since before well... none of your damn business.  

But am I really a hockey fan?

I love my hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, but aside from cheering for my own nation or Maple Leafs farm team, I can not cheer for or even watch other teams play for the hallowed chalice that is the Stanley Cup.

I do have a subscription to the Hockey News, however, and even started it up back when hockey was in a strike, so there wasn’t any hockey news. I don’t know if that makes me a fan or not. 

My team hasn’t won the Cup in nigh on 50 years - so no, I’ve never seen it happen. An no… this doesn’t make me a hockey fan as much as a glutton for punishment.   

Presented by Governor General of Canada Lord Stanley of Preston in 1892, the Stanley Cup is the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, and is currently awarded to the team that wins 16 games in the Stanley Cup playoffs involving teams from the National Hockey league (NHL).

Nowadays, when a team is successful to have won the Stanley Cup… for one day, and one day only, each member of that winning is allowed to spend one day with the Cup.

I am unsure if that means 24 hours, or merely several hours of the day.

One gentleman, named Philip Pritchard is known as the “Keeper of the Cup”, and has been charged with—for the past 27 years—to accompany the Stanley Cup as it travels to each individual player.

I will state that Lord Stanley’s mug has traveled around the world, has been to cemeteries, people’s swimming pools, mountain tops, ‘pretend’ given out to the winners of a street hockey tournament or two, and taken to childhood favorite hamburger joints. Honestly, that description above does not do it credit. It’s been all over the place.

Anyhow… Pritchard has penned an article about some of the more interesting things he has seen while transporting the Stanley Cup around, and yes, there’s a Japanese reference.

I’m going to present the copy of that one stop below, but will encourage you to go and check out the full magazine article as it was presented over in The Players Tribune… an on-line magazine started up by baseball superstar Derek Jeter, who I hate because he was a member of the New York Yankees, but wish he had played on the Toronto Blue Jays.

His magazine, which can be found over at is a fantastic read, created by the athletes or those involved in the sport (pick a sport!) themsleves.

I signed up to receive the magazine sent to my on-line mailbox… sports fans should too, even if you hate those damn Yankees.

Here’s the story:

“In the fall of 1997, the NHL held it’s opening game of the season between Vancouver and Anaheim in Tokyo. The Canadian and Japanese embassies put together a little event for the two teams. We brought the Stanley Cup along and all these Japanese people were standing around admiring at the Cup. They were extremely respectful of it — they kind of tip-toed around it, almost in awe.
Trevor Linden was standing maybe 15 feet away in the corner. Trevor was a big, tough vet from Medicine Hat, Alberta. I noticed this well-dressed Japanese gentleman kept saying something to Trevor. He was motioning him over to the Cup like, “Go on over and take a look.” And Trevor’s throwing his hands up and saying, “No, no, that’s okay.”
Finally, Trevor turned and walked away.
The Japanese guy was confused. He walked over to me and said, “He wouldn’t come over to see it. I don’t understand.”
And I said, “Well, it’s a custom. He doesn’t feel like he deserves to see it yet.”
And the gentleman very seriously says, “Well, I don’t deserve it either then, right?”
I said, “Don’t worry, it’s just a hockey player thing.”

The full-length article can be found by clicking HERE

The story makes reference to the fact that no hockey player worth his salt would ever touch the Stanley Cup if he has not won it for himself (and his team) previously. I’m unsure if it’s bad luck or not, but Trevor Linden is correct… as a hockey player, if you haven’t earned the right, you do not touch the Stanley Cup.

It makes winning it all the more sweeter.

Andrew Joseph

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