June 05, 2008
Last night, we saw the culmination of the 2007-08 National Hockey League season. All the games played, all the hard work put in, finally reached its apex. It's like playing "NHL ‘08" and going through every game just to get to the end cut scene where your team wins the Stanley Cup.
The Cup celebration and presentation is the reason why we love hockey. It's the best ceremony in all of sports to present the best trophy in all of sports to the deserved winner. Even if we don't have a horse in the race, we watch, just to see the joy on the winning teams' faces as they raise the 35 lbs. silver chalice.
Let's take a look back into history and into the YouTube, and find the 10 best Stanley Cup celebrations.
A simple, no-frills celebration on a "Sunday night in April." Yes, Virginia, they handed out the Stanley Cup in April back then. The good ole days of the "Original Six". No long line of team handshakes or piling on the goaltender. The players just showed their respects in one big group. This was as pure as it gets. No throngs of media or red carpet to get in the way of an on-ice skate with the Cup, just a simple celebration inside in the old Olympia Stadium.
The moment you've held onto for 40 years Leafs fans. The 3-1 victory over Montreal clinched the Cup for the Buds and it hasn't been seen since. We get to see an early ceremonial handshake line and NHL president at the time, Clarence Campbell, being booed on his way out to present the silver chalice (don't feel alone Gary!). Oddly enough, we see a bunch of Leafs players leaving the ice right after the Cup is awarded, not even sticking around to touch it or kiss it. Also, it seems back then that no one was fond of raising the Cup, instead, preferring to hold it like a bad sweater they got at Christmas.
Hurricanes captain Rod Brind'Amour displayed pure boyhood jubilation when he lifted the Cup. He also did not want to wait for Gary Bettman to end his long diatribe to get his hands on the Cup. There's nothing better than the face of a hockey player who's lifting the Cup for the first time in their careers. I'd be remiss if I didn't include Glen Wesley into that discussion. Be sure to listen closely for my favorite part; Mark Recchi dropping the F-bomb after hoisting the Cup for the first time since 1991.
A party began at 7:11 of overtime at the Nassau Coliseum on May 24, 1980 when Bob Nystrom put home the Cup-winning goal against the Flyers. The Coliseum holds 18,000 fans, but I've heard about 30,000 people tell me they were at this game. Former NHL President John Ziegler making an appearance on this list, presenting the trophy to Denis Potvin, who then led the team skate around the rink. Legend has it, the Islanders were the ones to start the tradition of the playoff beard; was this where it got its start?
We get our first skate with the Cup in this list thanks to Johnny Bucyk. Yes, this was the post-Bobby Orr goal celebration. And just look how many fans made it onto the ice of the Boston Garden, nowadays security would have bum rushed them before they even got over the glass.
Even MacGuyver was in the house on the night the Pens first won Lord Stanley's Cup. He was probably the reason Pittsburgh demolished Minnesota 8-0 in Game 6. Bob Errey and Paul Coffey were given assists on the first of two Cup raises for Mario Lemieux. I liked the entire Penguins team surrounding the three leaders, all trying to touch the Cup. It's the definition of a true team effort. In the words of Mike Lange, "Go for it Mario, go for it."
Gary Thorne's "After 22 years ... Raymond Bourque!" will forever be etched in the halls of memorable announcer quotes. This celebration will also be remembered for Joe Sakic's classy move to immediately hand Bourque the Cup, so that the long-time vet could feel what it's like to lift it over his head.
Hockeytown celebrating its 10th Stanley Cup title and the final one in the legendary coaching career of Scotty Bowman, who donned a pair of skates to take once last twirl with the Cup.
The birthright of Wayne Gretzky finally came true. Edmonton's first taste of many Cup wins was the reward for defeated the four-time defending champion New York Islanders. This was a celebration for all of Canada, who'd followed their "son" since he was a young lad, to this great accomplishment.
It was the night "1940" ended as a cheer in arenas across the NHL. The Cup was in the building for Game 5, but had to be put on hold for two games, which set up an electric atmosphere for Game 7 in Madison Square Garden. After the Rangers won the final face-off, the image of Mark Messier jumping up and down like a little boy was engrained in the minds of New Yorker's forever. Just watching "The Captain" accept the Cup from Bettman, it's like he won it for the first time.