August 26, 2011
For years, communities around North America would welcome locally born Stanley Cup champions with the usual combination of quaint pep rallies, keys to the city and a chance to glimpse hockey's holy grail at the player's old high school.
Yeah, that's great for the rank-and-file. But if a playoff MVP was born in your town, you apparently have to up the ante.
In 2010, Winnipeg native Jonathan Toews(notes) of the Chicago Blackhawks had a lake named in his honor. In 2011, Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas(notes) of the Boston Bruins returned home to Davison, Mich., with the Stanley Cup, only to discover that the town had decided to name a bridge after him.
Well, a pedestrian bridge. But a bridge nonetheless.
"It's a nice bridge," said Karen Miller, Davison Township Clerk. "It's going to get a lot of pedestrian traffic. And Tim's name will be there for all to see."
The bridge is located on the Black Creek Nature Trail on Gale Road, which goes around the township hall and eventually connects to the city's trail system. There are signs at either end of the bridge to notify walkers that Tim Thomas is about to carry them to their destination. (The same message could probably have been conveyed by posting photos of Games 6 and 7 of the Final.)
The idea came from a staffer in Miller's office, as they were trying to brainstorm offbeat ways to honor Thomas when he came back to Davison with his championship hardware. The Bruins goalie was given a "photo of the sign and an inscription dedicating the bridge in his name," according to the Flint Journal.
So Toews gets a lake, Thomas gets a bridge (and a corn maze, no less!) … what's next? A dam? A hydroelectric plant?
Clearly, these last two Conn Smythe celebrations are as transformative as when MTV started filming Sweet Sixteen parties; now instead of a few dozen friends at the Elks Lodge and a new Dodge Stratus, every girl wants the Ritz Carlton rented out and a Ferrari. Go ahead and see if next year's Conn Smythe winner will settle for a marching band and a photo-op with the mayor. "Hey, where's the airport terminal rechristened in my honor?"