The crowd’s jubilance was palpable as Nick Leddy carried the Stanley Cup out to the stage. The gleaming, nearly 35-pound trophy garners plenty of attention on its own, let alone when players are hoisting it high after winning it.
And on Saturday morning, the stories of its travels were intriguing as well.
The Cup has gone to some interesting places in its history, as detailed in Tales from the Cup Keepers, Saturday morning’s opening session at the sixth annual Blackhawks convention. Cup “keepers” Phil Pritchard, Mike Bolt, Walter Neubrand and Howie Borrow joined Leddy, the first Blackhawk to have his Cup day this summer, and told their Cup trek stories.
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Tales ranged from clearing up the false ones – Guy Carbonneau never threw the Stanley Cup in a pool from a balcony when the Dallas Stars won it in 1999 – to a Cup trip to the desert. Bolt accompanied the Cup to Afghanistan in 2007, when he unknowingly sat through a missile launch.
Then there was mention of actor Jim Belushi, who riled many when he hoisted the Cup after the Blackhawks beat the Boston Bruins in Game 6. The Cup keepers weren’t too happy about that, either.
“Jim should know better,” said Bolt to a round of applause.
Coach Joel Quenneville said this last Blackhawks season was “basically maintenance-free” in terms of having to address issues. But they did have some critical team talks this season, the most being that chat they had prior to Game 5 against the Detroit Red Wings in the second round. But Quenneville said he wasn’t the one doing much of the talking.
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“That’s why it worked. The players did all the talking; we (coaches) just teed it up,” said Quenneville, who pointed to Jamal Mayers, Michal Handzus and Daniel Carcillo as having the important comeback speeches in that talk. “It was a real good meeting, and the best thing that came out of that meeting was the belief in each other. Commend the players on that. We had a couple of good meetings, but that one stood out.”
Corey Crawford broke up the crowd quickly as he, Tony Esposito, Darren Pang and Murray Bannerman gathered to talk goaltending.
“No speeches today. Too many kids in here,” said Crawford, who got plenty of attention for his colorful parade talk.
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The goalies past and present covered a variety of topics, from their playing styles to friendships that have lasted through the years to the varying size of goaltending equipment – including fudging that latter one at times.
“As soon as the officials (who measured the equipment) would leave, I’d be right back at it,” Esposito said of altering his equipment. “I’d be there with a needle and pliers sewing them together. If pads were 11 inches, mine were 11 ½.”