“You don’t know how heavy it is,” Eric Fehr was saying, back in June. The Pittsburgh Penguins had just won the Stanley Cup and Fehr, a winger, was telling The Winnipeg Sun’s Paul Friesen about the joy of the triumph and the subsequent uplift, and how he’d wondered, briefly, whether his two surgically repaired shoulders would be able to handle the heft. “You don’t know how it’s going to feel,” Fehr was saying. “You’ve pictured it for so many years. When you finally get your hands on it, it’s a pretty unbelievable feeling.”
The shoulders were fine. “It felt a lot lighter than I thought it would.”
Later, after a parade in Pittsburgh (400,000 were said to have come out), the Cup went on its annual pilgrimage to visit the hometowns of the players and coaches who’d won it. With Phil Pritchard, its Hockey Hall of Fame guardian, Cup travelled to Landshut, in Germany, and to Moscow, Russia. It visited Helsinki, in Finland, and Jyväskylä, too, in the Finnish Lakeland. Swedish stops included Stockholm, Sollentuna, Sundsvi, Södertälje, Luleå, and Nykvarn.
Canadian stops included Fehr’s hometown, Winkler, Manitoba, where it visited the Southland Mall.
“It still hasn’t fully kicked in,” said Fehr, who got a key to the city from Mayor Martin Harder. “Still kind of a wow factor for me, especially a day like today when you get to walk around with the cup and especially when you see everybody’s faces when they get a look at that cup.”
“We all squeezed the stick,” Gord Downie sang this summer, crossing the land one more time with The Tragically Hip, “and we all pulled the trigger.”
In Denver, Colorado lost its coach when Patrick Roy resigned. It was a surprise, maybe even a shock. Roy said he didn’t feel he had enough say in shaping the roster he was expected to command on the ice. “I remain forever loyal to the Avalanche,” he said, “with which I played 478 games, coached another 253, and won two Stanley Cups.”
GM Joe Sakic was sorry to see him go, but he respected the decision. “We’re all good,” he told Nicholas Cotsonika of NHL.com. It took Sakic just over a week to find a replacement: Jared Bednar, who last season won the AHL’s Calder Cup championship at the helm of the Lake Erie Monsters.
Was it worrisome that by early August Shea Weber still hadn’t travelled to Montreal? People were wondering, this summer, including several writers on the Habs beat.
His agent said no, not a problem, because … summer. Weber was at home in Kelowna, that’s all. “His initial reaction was there was a pause and a little bit of shock,” explained Jarrett Bousquet, the agent. “And then when he realized it was true, he was pretty excited. Obviously, now he’s extremely excited being back in Canada and the pieces that they’ve put together. And he knows Carey Price from B.C. and the Olympics and whatnot, so I know he’s very excited now.”
Man disguised as hockey goalie robs beer store in Manitoba
was a headline running amok across social media last week. It’s true; it happened, in Russell, Manitoba, about four hours’ journey to the northwest from Winkler. While police continue to search for the culprit, a consensus has solidified online that this was
the most Canadian crime story ever, Non-Moose Division (CBS Sports)
Most Canadian heist ever (Huffington Post)
The Most Canadian Thing Ever (@Breaking911)
a scene from a clichéd Canadian movie — if it wasn’t so bizarrely real. (CBC.ca)
Defenceman Justin Schultz welcomed the Stanley Cup to West Kelowna, B.C. His parents were there, at Royal LePage Place, beaming their pride.
“This is huge,” his mother Kim Schultz, told Carmen Weld of Castanet:
Kim said she tries to keep it all in perspective and keep Justin and the family grounded.
“It is a game, after all, and he just has a different job,” she said. “That is how I look at it, as his mom.”
Artist and writer Doug Coupland had a Stanley Cup question for his Twitter followers in August:
Answer: while interested parties suggested up Bell Centennial Bold Listing, Times New Ransom, and DIN Mittelscrift, the likeliest one seems to be … no font at all. As detailed here, at the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Stanley Cup Journal, the cup’s engraver, Louise St. Jacques of Montreal, uses a collection of small hammers and custom-made letter stamps to knock each letter into the silverware.
In Nova Scotia, as summer got going, the talk among some municipal politicians was of honouring the Penguins’ captain and native son. “Halifax regional council wants to name something after Sidney Crosby,” Zane Woodford reported for Halifax Metro, “but it’s not yet sure what.”
Cole Harbour, of course, is where Crosby hails from, a Halifax suburb on the Dartmouth side, about half-an-hour’s journey from the airport, if you’re going. Crosby had his day there with the Stanley Cup in July: as captain of the Penguins, he got the trophy for an extra day’s visit.
He took it to a hockey school and to a Tim Hortons whose drive-thru he used to frequent, at 4 Forest Hills Parkway. The Canadian Press:
Video posted on social media showed him plunking the Cup down on the order counter, as staff and about two dozen customers slowly became aware of who had arrived. Another man carried the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to Crosby as playoff MVP.
The manager reported that Crosby stayed for about 15 minutes. “He came behind the counter and … made sure all the staff got pictures with him. He’s a gentleman. He’s awesome.”
PAL Airlines tweeted a photo of Crosby, the Cup and an unidentified man in an orange safety vest with thanks “for visiting our Halifax offices.”
Crosby’s Stanley Cup parade took him from St. John XXIII Roman Catholic Church in Dartmouth— confessions taken Wednesday at 6 and Saturdays at 3 — to Cole Harbour Place, a distance of about 1.8 kilometres. RCMP officers in red serge escorted the captain and his trophy while a crowd of — well, no-one seemed to know precisely how many people showed up: “thousands” was the best the CBC and local newspapers were offering.
At the Player’s Tribune, Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks wrote about five defencemen he admires. One of them, Brent Burns, happens to be a teammate:
Fun fact: Burnzie got his first tattoo when he was 11 years old. It’s a Canadian flag with two hockey sticks going through it. And his dad took him to get it. He’s added a few more over the years, including a tattoo on his leg of Harry Potter battling a giant blue dragon.
Pavel Datsyuk was tweeting, this summer: “Желаю удачи нашим олимпийцам на Играх в Рио!”
“I loved playing in Detroit!” is something else Pavel Datsyuk wrote, this time on Facebook. He left the Red Wings, of course, at the age of 38, after 14 seasons, to return to the ice of his native Russia. “I am blessed to have received an offer to continue my hockey career at home with SKA in St. Petersburg. It was a difficult decision to retire from the Red Wings and NHL, but in my heart, I believe it is the best decision for me and my family.”
Another former Red Wing announced his retirement this summer. “I played for one reason, and that was to win Stanley Cups,” Brad Richards said. Twice he did that, with Tampa Bay in 2004 and again with Chicago in 2015. Talking to Nicholas Cotsonika of NHL.com, he said,
“I think that was pretty neat to go play with Marty and [Vincent Lecavalier] and some of those players in Tampa and then play with Kaner and Tazer and this whole new generation of hockey players and how they do things and be part of both of them. That’s pretty special.”
(Which, of course, makes you wonder what kind of a nickname Lecavalier goes by that it needs outright replacement.)
Natalie Parsons of Valley News Live was on hand in Minnesota see local boy Matt Cullen bring the Stanley Cup to the Moorhead Youth Hockey Arena. Dominic Denardo was there, too, “area hockey fan,” and he was pleased to assess Cullen’s contribution to the Penguins. “He’s very talkative on the ice, shoots well, is fast and kind of what you want in a hockey player.” Mackenzie Wetch was another Cullen enthusiast. “I have a crush on him,” she confided. “I like his hair and his face.”
Connor McDavid told Toronto’s Sun that should the Edmonton Oilers choose him as team captain, he would “embrace” the opportunity. “Obviously. If I was ever the captain at any point I think it would be one of the greatest honours and one of the accomplishments that I would definitely take the most seriously.”
The town of Bathurst in New Brunswick, named a street for a local boy, 23-year-old Sean Couturier, a centreman for the Philadelphia Flyers who also, this summer, signed a new six-year contract with an average annual value of $4.33M.
“It’s not something you dream of growing up, Couturier said of the money, “but if you can be an example for other young kids and remind them even coming from a small town like Bathurst, anything is possible if you make the sacrifices and believe in what you can do.” Or, no, sorry, that’s what he said about Sean Couturier Avenue. “It’s a great organization, they believe in me,” is what he advised CSNPhilly.com regarding the contract. “I’m not going to change as a player, as a person. I’m going to be the same type of player, just definitely try to produce a little bit more offensively.”
Hey, said Jim Matheson, what about the Oilers retire Taylor Hall’s number? “It’s time, folks,” he was opining last month in The Edmonton Sun. “Well, past time.”
Number 4, he was talking about, which Hall did bear on his back from the time he arrived in Edmonton in 20 up until the day this past July when he was traded to New Jersey. But before Hall, Edmonton’s 4 belonged to defenceman Kevin Lowe. He’s the one Matheson wants the Oilers to honour.
Lowe, who’s now vice-president of Oilers Entertainment Group, scored the team’s first goal after they joined the NHL in 1979 (Wayne Gretzky assisted, for his first NHL point). Lowe carried on to play 1,209 games for the Oilers, which is more than anyone, including Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson, Paul Coffey, and Grant Fuhr. Matheson:
The six names above are all in the HHOF and Lowe isn’t, but from 1979 to when he left here in 1992 for the Rangers, few NHL blue-liners were better defensively. Again five Cups, but because he’s not a Hall of Famer — his name came up several times in voting about 10 years ago — the Oilers have also used that omission as a reason why the No. 4’s not retired.
Enough of that.
In Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Penguins’ defenceman Derrick Pouliot stood by the Stanley Cup in the lobby of Crescent Point Place.
In Toronto, the Cup spent time with another defenceman, Trevor Daley, who dropped by Regent Park, before heading over to a private party at a downtown restaurant called Spice Route.
Former Maple Leafs winger Phil Kessel had his day in Toronto, too, introducing the Cup to young patients at the Hospital for Sick Children before going for lunch at The Chase, ten or so minutes east of Spice Route, where the management prides itself on its passion for casual elegance and small plates with big flavours. A haunt of Kessel’s, I guess, while he was a Leaf, according to Steven Salm, president of Chase Hospitality Group. “We always served as a great kind of creative outlet for him: A place to hang out and enjoy great atmosphere and good food. We got to know his dining habits and favourite likes and dislikes.”
In Western Ontario last winter, a local man thought, “Jeez, it’d be nice if we can name a portion of the arena after Dave Farrish.”
Luke Cranston was his name, of Lucknow; the arena in question is the Lucknow and District Sports Complex. Never been there myself, but I do know that Paul Henderson is a Lucknow man, and that when the rink expanded in 2010, it added the Paul Henderson Hall, which includes (by the Lucknow Sentinel’s account) “a warm second floor viewing area, new roof, stairs and seating areas” along with a display case filled with Hendersoniana.
Farrish grew up there, too, in the years he got to the NHL as a defenceman for the New York Rangers, Quebec Nordiques, and Toronto Maple Leafs. The New York Times once described the role he regularly played as “body-bruising;” in latter years, he’s been an assistant coach with the Leafs and Anaheim Ducks and, most recently, Colorado’s Avalanche.
On Luke Cranston’s initiative, July 9 was declared Dave Farrish Day. There were speeches (by Farrish and a former Ranger teammate, Pat Hickey) as well as a silent fundraising auction.
In the evening, at the Lucknow Legion, there was a Bruce County Beef Dinner.
But the centerpiece of the day came early, when the townspeople dedicated the front entrance of the arena: for now and forever, let it be known as the Farrish Foyer.
Chris Lomon of the NHLPA’s website caught up with Vancouver winger Alex Burrows in July.
“My summer’s been great,” said the winger. “Once we were done playing, I started working out in Vancouver a few weeks later with some of my teammates — the kids were still in school then — so we stayed there and I was able to work out with the guys, the (Sedin) twins, and after a few weeks, we came back to Montreal. I’ve been working out with other players every morning since that time.”
“We are at the swimming pool quite a bit – that’s lots of fun with my three-year-old and five-year-old. They are really swimming well now, no floaties at all. They love it.”
Former New Jersey Devil Bobby Holik was loaded for bear back in June, as he likes to be. This was out in Wyoming, in the western U.S., as told by the Czech-born erstwhile centreman himself on his website, holikonshooting.com. “The black bear we were hunting for failed to show up at our bait barrel those two nights we had set aside to hiking up to the spot where bears are frequently sighted by my friend. It was still a great adventure.
As we moved up to thicker timber farther up the trail we started seeing bear activity signs. Droppings on the trail and scratch marks on trees that mark their territory. Even thought the predators are not really interested in humans it’s a good thing to have a friend with you and be armed. You are only an hour or so of hard, fast hike from the closest house but it feels you have entered different world where humans do not necessarily dominate the top of the food chain. Thrilling and adventurous.
Holik was trying out some new firearms from CZ-USA. His thoughts?
My personal all time favorite handgun ever is CZ 97. I own both versions now. The decocker 97 BD and manual safety equipped 97 B. I have rubber grips on the carry/truck gun BD and beautiful old fashioned wood grips on the B. The latter version is my range gun and I have found that novice shooters are more accurate with that large .45 caliber than any other gun we try. It is larger than most but the weight absorbs the recoil better than any other .45 I and many of my friends (guys and gals alike) have shot. The accuracy is down right shocking when I see them not believing how well they did shooting the gun for the first time.
He likes CZ’s 75 B, too, he mentions, with the new Omega trigger system and threaded barrel. “All steel construction, amazing out of the box trigger and the proven 75 feel can’t be beat. To add a suppressor you will have yourself the most comfortable handgun and will always look forward to shooting it.”
“I’m sick about it, I’m sad about it,” said Aragorn, son of Arathorn, of the trade that sent P.K. Subban out of Montreal to Mordor. At least, no, sorry — he went to Nashville, and it was Viggo Mortensen who was sadly sickened, the Lord of the Rings actor and ardent Habs fan. “But it’s a team sport, it’s not just one guy that makes your team good or bad. So I’m optimistic that maybe it will be good in some way, for the collective…. There are still a lot of strong individuals on the team and some veterans who lead by example. So I don’t think it will be as bad as a lot of Canadiens’ fans are fearing.”
David Backes, who left the St. Louis Blues in July to sign on with the Boston Bruins for five years, told fans not to worry about his age and durability.
“I’m 32, not 52. I think there’s plenty of legs and plenty of physicality and energy left in me, and the term’s been something that maybe a few people have questioned, but for me I expect to still be at the top of my game for that last year.”
Asked elsewhere, this summer, to name his favourite character in The Bible, Backes didn’t hesitate to go with his namesake, David. “He was at the battlefield and none of the soldiers wanted to go battle with Goliath but he stepped up to have courage and faith and go out there and really risk his life for what he believed in and knew that God was by his side and that’s a source of courage that’s always present.”
Pittsburgh defenceman Brian Dumoulin spent his offseason back home in New England, taking a course at Boston College to complete a degree in marketing.
“The class is called Psychological Development Through a Lifespan,” he told Steve Craig of the Portland (Maine) Press Herald. “It doesn’t really apply to hockey too much, nothing that would really help me in a season, but it’s good to learn something different.”
Dumoulin’s day with the Cup, in Biddeford, Maine, featured a 15-minute, three-kilometre parade, from Biddeford High to Biddeford Ice Arena, where 2,000 well-wishers were gathered.
Back in Cole Harbour, the politicians wondered whether maybe they might rename Cole Harbour’s Forest Hills Parkway after their boy Sid the Quondam Kid. What about that? Council voted to ask staff to study the idea, Zane Woodford of Halifax Metro reported, though some councillors had a better idea: maybe would it be more appropriate to re-christen the arena, Cole Harbour Place?
Asked during June’s NHL Awards in Las Vegas for a reaction to this order of municipal recognition, Crosby “appeared pleased and possibly slightly embarrassed.”
“I don’t know,” The Canadian Press heard him say. “Um, it’s a compliment. Definitely something that I don’t think necessarily needs to be done, but like I said it’s a compliment if they feel that strongly and want to do that then that means a lot to me.”
Pittsburgh defenceman Ben Lovejoy, the first New Hampshire-born player ever to win the Stanley Cup, spent most of his day in his hometown of Canaan.
He went to the Enfield Village School and on to the Cardigan Mountain School, and he dropped by the Lebanon Police Department, where an officer, surprised, said, “Holy schnikey!”
Other policemen, these ones in Buffalo, New York, arrested a local Sabres’ winger, Evander Kane, in July, charging him with four counts of non-criminal harassment and another of misdemeanour trespass following an incident at a bar.
“Investigators say two women accused Kane of grabbing them,” TSN reported. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly had a statement, and this was part of it: it is not the League’s current intention to take any form of disciplinary action against Mr. Kane. Mr. Kane will be directed to the NHL/NHLPA Behavioral Health professionals for evaluation and counseling, as they may determine necessary.”
The allegations that I read in the paper and so on are extremely exaggerated,” Kane’s lawyer said, Paul J. Cambria Jr. “There is more to this than meets the eye.”
Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray spent part of his day with the Stanley Cup at the Intercity Shopping Centre in his hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario. A crowd of 2,000 showed up to hail them, including a man named Rob Wesley, who brought along his son and his daughter and a sizable Star Wars poster that he wanted to display alongside the Cup. And why not? As he told Brent Linton of the local Chronicle-Journal, “Hockey and Star Wars are my two favourite things.”