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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2007-04-25

Lord Stanley's Cup
It's the best trophy in Sports

By Mike Blake, Reuters News Pictures

Photo by Mike Blake / Reuters

Photo by Mike Blake / Reuters

The Stanley Cup is the best trophy in sports.
Let me start off by saying this is not objective at all.

I'm a Canadian and I'm about to write a little blurb about the Stanley Cup in this the 100th edition of Sports Shooter. (Congrats to Mr. Hanashiro!)

Unlike the Vince Lombardi trophy (Super Bowl) handed to the owner of the winning team atop a 7-foot high stage at the 35-yard line following the conclusion of the game. Or the World Series trophy (Major League Baseball), awarded to the owner of the winning team, usually in a champagne soaked dressing room surrounded by network TV cameras and cable pullers. Or the piece of wood given to the winning coach in a scrum with his student athletes (who happen to be wearing t-shirts and hats claiming their recent NCAA Final Four victory).

Or the U.S. Open Tennis trophy, it's well presented …. but the emotion is gone, and everyone is on his or her best behavior. The World Cup soccer trophy is actually present to the captain of the winning team, but he has to climb into the stands and retrieve it from a president or queen. (FIFA changed that in Germany last time around, and the pictures looked much better).

The Masters winner receives a Green Jacket and depending on how long the Augusta National chairman speaks on the putting green where the presentation takes place the light can be beautiful or your hooking up a flash.

The British Open winner receives the Claret Jug, I have never covered that event but it looks well done. It's exciting when the BBC cuts from play to the engraver as he waits to engrave the winners name on the Jug on a one-stroke lead.

The NBA presents the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy to the team's owner on a six inch high stage placed at center court, and it's almost impossible to make a clean picture ( except when two tall guys from the San Antonio Spurs win). The Grey Cup ( think Canadian Football League) has a nice trophy that has been present since 1909. But last year the B.C. Lions broke it in all the excitement of trying to get back to the dressing room to get warm .

Now the NHL has done a number of questionable things over the years. Strikes, fights, a glowing puck, but the Stanley Cup has always been the leagues shining light.

It's handed to the captain of the winning team on the ice. He's still in his uniform, still wearing his skates, has not put on a baseball cap or five dollar white t-shirt telling the world what his team has just accomplished. There is no owner, no coach no T.V announcer doing an interview, nothing but the commissioner of the league handing over the goods to the guy who led his team to victory. It's beautiful in its simplicity. And always makes for a great picture.

Each player, coach and trainer has his name engraved on the cup and during the summer each gets to have the cup for twenty-four hours. In fact after the New York rangers won the cup in 1994 ( the first time in 54 years) the cup did this.

Photo by Mike Blake / Reuters

Photo by Mike Blake / Reuters

Tiger Woods presents the Green Jacket to Phil Mickelson.
• Mark Messier and Brian Leetch brought the Cup on The Late Show with David Letterman and did Stupid Cup Tricks.

• Ed Olczyk brought it to Belmont racetrack and let 1994-Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin use it as a feedbag.

• Brian Noonan and Nick Kypreos brought the Cup on MTV Prime Time Beach House where it was stuffed with raw clams and oysters. (On the show, Noonan denied he had used the Cup as a rolling pin to make muffins. Kypreos denied playing kick the can with it.)

• Messier took the Cup to Scores, an East Side strip joint. Scores spokesman Lonnie Hanover said, "It was the first time I'd seen our customers eager to touch something besides our dancers,"

• The Cup went to a Ranger victory party at a Manhattan saloon called the Auction House, where it stopped traffic, started parades, and was drunk out of by everyone in sight until the bar was effectively down to backwash (but that probably wouldn't have stopped them).

• After a ticker-tape parade up Broadway, and some time at McSorley's bar, a cop named Jim Jones (different guy) strapped a seat belt around the Cup in his squad car and delivered it to another engagement.

• The Cup was taken to a Yankees game at Yankee Stadium, where it watched the game from George Steinbrenner's luxury box. The Yankee fans at the game cheered "Let's Go Rangers!" (That same day, the Cup visited Brian Bluver, a 13-year-old patient awaiting a heart transplant at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. According to his father, Brian "smiled for the first time in seven weeks". A week and a half later Brian had 11th-hour heart surgery.)

Just Google Stanley Cup, the stories are endless.

So as we all gather up our gear and head to the rink to cover the NHL playoffs lets give a little shout out to the National Hockey League for keeping it simple. And two months from now if your team still has a hot goalie and the NHL can actually find you a decent shooting position (can you stand and shoot on a milk crate?), you'll get to photograph what I think is one of the best moments in professional sports. But the again, I'm a Canadian.


(Mike Blake is a staff photographer with Reuters News Pictures. You can see his work on his SportsShooter.com member page: http://www.sportsshooter.com/mikeblake.)

Related Links:
Blake's member page

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