Lord Stanley's Cup is all that matters now

  • Chicago Blackhawks' John Madden passes a puck during hockey practice, Friday, May 28, 2010, in Chicago. The Blackhawks host the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals Saturday.

    Chicago Blackhawks' John Madden passes a puck during hockey practice, Friday, May 28, 2010, in Chicago. The Blackhawks host the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals Saturday. Associated Press

 
 
Posted5/29/2010 12:01 AM

Bling ain't the thing in hockey.

Who needs jewelry when you compete for the most meaningful trophy in sports, along with the great traditions that accompany it?

 

OK, so maybe the Stanley Cup doesn't carry the same cache as the mirror ball awarded on "Dancing with the Stars" -

Er, apologies, hockey community, for the bad joke.

But seriously, about that bling thing: It's unlikely you ever heard an NHL player say that his purpose in life is to win a ring.

As far as I know, not a one said anything like that approaching tonight's Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals in the United Center.

Nobody in the media bothered asking any of the Blackhawks or Flyers whether they grew up dreaming of getting a ring because they already knew the answer.

Heck, I wasn't sure hockey players receive a piece of jewelry when they win a championship. Hawks forward John Madden, a Stanley Cup winner with New Jersey, assured me they do.

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Hockey players don't mention the ring because Lord Stanley's Cup is a bigger, better symbol of success.

When a baseball, basketball or football player wins a title he gains ownership of an expensive piece of bling.

When an NHL player wins a championship, the Stanley Cup gains ownership of him: Priceless.

You see, every player on an NHL champion gets his name etched on the trophy for posterity. Immortality is the thing hockey dreams are made of.

As Hawks defenseman Brent Sopel put it the other day, "Everybody's name goes on it and it's that way for life."

The emphasis is on "everybody," the entire roster.

"Hockey is the biggest team sport out there," Hawks forward Ben Eager contends. "We all work to lift the trophy after the final game. That's the all-time best feeling."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Ah, yes, the hoisting of the Cup, another hockey ritual. On the ice after the clinching victory players lift the Cup over their heads, pass it from teammate to teammate and skate around the rink with it.

How much cooler is that than any other sport's celebration?

Speaking of comparisons, NBA champions receive the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Super Bowl champions receive the Lombardi Trophy. World Series champions receive the Commissioner's Trophy.

Think about that: The basketball and baseball trophies are named for league executives and football's is named for a coach.

Hockey's is named for a freakin' lord!

Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "You want the Stanley Cup. It's the team; you win it together. It's nice to get a ring but there's something bigger than that."

The Cup is a traveling trophy that hockey teams don't get to keep forever. However, another outstanding tradition is that each winning player gets to have it for a day, take it wherever he wants and share it with family and friends.

Madden mentioned how special his day was and how proudly players talk about their experience with it.

Sopel added, "In Canada you grow up dreaming of playing in the Final and have the opportunity to win the (Stanley Cup). It's different from any other sport."

Just hearing a hockey player talk about that has a neat ring to it.