- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 30, 2013


One of the many things that make the Stanley Cup playoffs so much fun is the sport has some cool traditions. The playoff beards. The handshake line when it is over, no matter how grueling or physical the series.

Best of all? Members of the winning organization get to spend a whole day with the Stanley Cup during the offseason.

“Somebody brings it right to your front door,” said winger Troy Brouwer, the only Capitals player who has been on a Cup-winning team. He was a member of the 2010 champion Chicago Blackhawks and on July 15, 2010, the Cup was in North Delta, British Columbia, for a day with Brouwer. “They’ll come as early as you want. You get a full day to do what you want.”

How cool is that? This absolutely has to happen.

The Caps begin their Stanley Cup quest Thursday night against the New York Rangers. If they can survive four series, somehow win 16 games, it’s go time. Hoisting the Cup — another excellent tradition — is only the beginning.

Perhaps the Caps would be kind enough to let the rest of the town share. The Cup could throw out the first pitch at a Nats game. It could call “heads” during the coin flip at a Redskins game. It could sink a 3-pointer for the Wizards.

To hear hockey players talk about it, the Cup can do pretty much anything. They don’t talk about it as if it is an inanimate object. It isn’t. It lives.

“That’s how guys see it,” Brouwer said. “It’s not just a trophy that you win. I don’t know, it’s like a figurehead. It’s like an ultimate goal that you want to be with and not just hold it once. You want to be with it as many times as you can.”

Mike Ribeiro could take the Cup for a spin in his fancy Bentley. Karl Alzner would have to be careful. He famously posted a picture on Twitter of some damage his dogs did to his apartment while he was at a game. Alex Ovechkin might need a whole day to get it through his big, new house, but he could pose with it next to the Hart Trophy he ought to win.

“Everybody has dreamed about it, I think, that’s no secret. You mess around with your buddies, ask them what they’d do if they had it for a day,” winger Joel Ward said. “I think you’d keep it close to your family, have a good day with it, maybe a little barbecue action.”

Said Eric Fehr, “I got an opportunity to spend the day with the Calder Cup [the American Hockey League championship trophy]. Obviously, it is a smaller scale, but it is a good time to kind of reflect on the year and celebrate it with your friends and family. I can only imagine what that would be like with the Stanley Cup.”

To hear Brouwer tell it, it would be amazing, awesome and totally cool all rolled into one and then taken to the 100th power.

The tradition is fairly new. The New Jersey Devils started it in 1995. Now, the organization gets a 100-day window to make sure the Cup gets around to everyone. A crew of Cup handlers (talk about a way cool job) is responsible for its transport and one must be within sight of the Cup at all times.

Brouwer got the absolute maximum out of his day in 2010.

It started at 8 a.m., so Brouwer could have breakfast with the Cup. We hear it likes its eggs over easy.

From there, it was on to a very special moment for the Brouwer family. Troy’s father Don had a stroke not long before the playoffs began and he was still in the hospital.

“He was up walking again,” said Brouwer, who noted his dad is fine now. “He did a lot of good rehab to be able to be in shape to be up all day, to walk around, to be able to hold it, drink from it.”

From there, the Cup got a tour of a fire station and a police station. Many of Brouwer’s childhood friends are policemen and firefighters. Then came a parade and “about 10,000 people showed up,” Brouwer said. “In a town of 30,000, that’s pretty good.”

Brouwer let some youth hockey players visit with the Cup “to hopefully inspire the kids to continue with their hockey careers, to see how far it will take them.” Then it was on to the grand finale.

“We went to my parents’ house. They have a big backyard,” he said, “and we had a nice little party, about 200 people, late into the night.”

In terms of his nonhockey life, Brouwer’s marriage, the health of his dad, the birth of his daughter Kylie Marie in October 2012 are among the things that rank a bit higher. In hockey, nothing else comes close.

“I think the best moment other than that is when they bring the Cup out onto the ice,” Brouwer said. “And you realize you get to hoist it, your name is going to be on it and you get to party with it.”

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