It happened, then it took twelve years for it to happen again, and another seven for it to happen a third time.
Until recently, every year I would watch the captain of the winning team hoist the Stanley Cup above his head and plant a giant kiss on it. This memory is burned into my brain from at least 1980 onward. Certainly, for my entire adult life, I know I have not missed the raising of The Cup more than a couple of times.
I normally root for one particular team to win The Cup but this year I was rooting heavily for the Vegas Golden Nights to win. You see, last night this particular situation arose for only the third time since 2002. I like to think of it as my own version of Halley’s Comet.
Back in 2002, my wife was pregnant with our first child who was due on July 4. I was always a bit ticked off because of all the days for a True Canadian to have a baby, I got stuck with American Independence Day as a due date. Three days earlier would have been ideal.
At any rate, there we were living in Cambridge, Ontario and as always I was watching the Stanley Cup Finals. It was mid-June. In fact, to be completely precise it was June 13. Detroit was playing Carolina in game #5 and Detroit was up 3 games to 1 in the series.
As I mentioned, for as long as I can remember I have watched the Stanley Cup get hoisted by the captain of the winning team. I can go back to when I was a kid and my dad would let me stay up late to watch them hand out the cup. I’m not sure what it is about it, but growing up with a dad who played hockey at a very competitive level, playing it myself for 10 years, going down to the old CNE grounds to the Hockey Hall of Fame when I was a kid and seeing the Cup up close (and even touching it), well, it’s a feeling stronger than common nostalgia that’s hard to explain.
So, three weeks removed from our first child’s due date, my wife and I were lying in bed watching Detroit win The Cup. Lidstrom got the Conn Smythe trophy for playoff MVP and then Gary Bettman came out and presented the cup to Steve Yzerman. Stevie Y hoisted The Cup over his head and planted a big kiss on it. Right then, I turned to her (she was pretending not to watch the game), patted her on the stomach, and said, “OK, you can give birth now”.
At 05:00 the next morning she woke me up with, “Andrew, we’re going to have a baby”. More than half asleep, I replied, “I know,” and she said, “No. We’re going to have a baby TODAY. My water just broke”.
A little more than twelve hours later our daughter was born. That makes today her birthday (and aside from making me feel slightly old that means yesterday was June 13).
I waited twelve years for The Cup to be handed out on June 13 again but the Hockey Gods must be looking upon me favorably because I only needed to wait another seven for it to happen once more. Last night the Vegas Golden Nights won the Stanley Cup and today my daughter celebrates her twenty-first birthday. Congratulations to them and a most wonderful happy birthday to her.
Hockey may have the greatest trophy but I have the greatest daughter and to me, that’s worth more than any sterling silver cup, Stanley or otherwise.