Portland Winterhawks celebrate the Stanley Cup and the city’s hockey history … – The Oregonian
Andrew Ference says it was a crazy, exhausting, thrilling situation. In the throes of a celebration he’d been imagining since boyhood, police came into the locker room to tell the guys to hustle. If they wanted an escort, they had to get moving.
It was June 15, 2011. Ference and his Boston Bruins teammates had just won the Stanley Cup, on the road, in Vancouver, B.C. The losing city wasn’t taking it very well, so authorities were concerned about getting the team and the trophy on the bus and out of town safely.
“The cup was a mess,” Ference, the former Portland Winterhawks defenseman now with the Edmonton Oilers, said this week by phone. “The cops came in and told us to hurry up. We got out of our gear and just brought it in the shower with us.
“It was pretty surreal.”
The Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, better known as the Stanley Cup, is in Portland this week as part of the city’s 100 Years of Hockey celebration. The city’s connection to one of the most revered prizes in sports goes way, way back. Portland is the first U.S. city with its name etched on the cup, after the 1916 Rosebuds won the Pacific Coast Hockey Association title.
“Hockey in Portland has been around a long, long time,” said Philip Pritchard, the cup’s curator, who is traveling with it this weekend. He and his white gloves have escorted it all over the world. Top of a mountain in Canada? Check. Sauna in Finland? Check. He has tons of stories, and reels off the trophy’s bona fides without taking a breath.
The trophy is 121 years old. It stands 36 inches tall, weighs 35 pounds and has about 2,500 names engraved on it. Its bowl can hold 14 12-ounce beers. What’s missing? It does not have the words “Stanley Cup” anywhere on it.
Commissioned in 1892, it was donated by Lord Stanley Preston, then-governor general of Canada.
Unlike most major sports, the NHL doesn’t make a new cup for each season’s champion to keep — there’s just one Stanley Cup, and winners keep the hallowed trophy until it goes to the next team to win the title.
It’s also unique in that the names of all the players, coaches, staff and management are engraved in bands, and five bands make up its chalice. When the bottom band is full, the top band is removed and preserved at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
Portland’s name, however, is along a permanent band, near the bowl at the top of the trophy.
The Stanley Cup is revered. “It’s like it’s almost a person. It comes to life,” Pritchard said.
And it’s the stuff of dreams.
“I grew up watching hockey, and every year when the playoffs came on, you saw the Stanley Cup,” said Glen Wesley, a former Winterhawks defenseman who is now director of defenseman development with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Wesley played for the Hurricanes team that won the cup in 2006, his fourth time playing for the NHL championship.
“I went four times (to the finals). Two times with Boston, and two times with Carolina,” Wesley said. “The first three times, I grew a beard. The fourth time, I didn’t grow one and it worked.”
Both former Hawks had the trophy, which spends time with every player on the winning team during the offseason.
Ference loaded it onto the trailer his daughters usually sat in on the back of his bike and pedaled it around his North Boston neighborhood.
“I’m more of a bike rider than a car driver, and I just wanted to make sure my day reflected who I am,” he said. “The Stanley Cup fit quite conveniently in it.”
He had the trophy on Labor Day, and biked it all over the city, taking hit to his daughters’ school, “parading it like some saint through the streets.”
Bruins fans, he said, “waited a long time for the cup, but they love their hockey.”
Ference shared it with patients at a rehabilitation hospital in Boston, and Wesley shared it with a Wounded Warrior unit at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
After driving with it in a case for two-and-a-half hours to the base, Wesley said when they opened it, “you’re kind of in awe. There’s over 100 years of names of the people who have celebrated with it. There’s just a select number of guys who’ve won it.”
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Even now, Wesley said, the Stanley Cup has a hold on him.
“Just sitting down and realizing what you did, to this day I have to pinch myself to realize what I was able to do with my teammates,” he said. “It was a special time. You carry that bond with you for the rest of your life.”
Ference, too, reflects sometimes, not just about winning a championship, but about the symbol of that title.
“The thing I like about the Stanley Cup is that the first person to hoist it is the captain,” he said. “I can’t think of any other trophy that is the same from year to year. I can’t think of a trophy that every single player gets a day with it.
“It’s got so many stories.”
— Molly Blue