Security (unsurprisingly) is tight at 1 World Trade Center. “It’s much easier to get into the White House than to get in here!” Mike Bolt said the other day. Bolt, dressed in a blazer and black slacks, sporting a boyish hairstyle, escorted a high-profile celebrity through the underground halls of the tower. The entourage included a colleague of Bolt’s and the two celebrity hosts, who worked for a magazine upstairs. They were stopped by a pair of security guards.
“This,” said one host, pausing for effect and pointing to a chest on wheels, “is the Stanley Cup.”
Guard #1: “Oh-oh.”
Guard #2: “Whoa, pretty cool.”
X-rays, metal detector, K-9 detection: the trunk, lined with airline stickers, passed with aplomb. Bolt’s blazer bore a crest of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, in whose name he is one of four Stanley Cup goaltenders. The Cup, for those whose hearts do not race at the mere mention of it, is the giant silver chalice given each spring to the winner of the National Hockey League championship. (This year’s playoffs, with the New York Rangers in the group for the first time in five years, began earlier this month.) The Cup, with Bolt and last year’s winners the Tampa Bay Lightning, had just visited the Oval Office. (The president, in his remarks, referred to NHL boss Gary Bettman as “commissioner Gary Batman.”
The Cup is usually on the road three hundred days a year. Each player on the winning team gets it for one day. She travels with a skirt and prefers to rest on a round table one meter in diameter. “I can dress this table up and make it look really good,” Bolt said. He opened the trunk, put on a pair of white gloves, took the Cup out of its blue velvet case and placed it on the table. It looked really nice. Brilliant and grand – even, to use that word only once, iconic. “Can we touch it?” someone asked. Hockey code says you’re not supposed to do it until you win it. There were a few amateur players (mostly former) in attendance, one wearing a vintage Philadelphia Flyers jersey—No. 8, Dave (the Hammer) Schultz – another wearing a Hartford Whalers t-shirt and a third who had pulled his two young sons out of school. They all – even the children, who at least theoretically still had a vaccine – started touching it anyway.
“You can hug him, you can kiss him, but if you feel the need to lift him, go earn it,” Bolt said. Each winning player has his name engraved on the Cup.
“Come here, buddy,” Bolt said to the younger one. “Who is your favorite player?”
Bolt helped the boy find him.
“Oh, yeah, I see it,” the boy said.
“He lives near Mongolia, on the other side of Russia,” Bolt said. “It’s deep.” The Cup and Bolt traveled to Tarasenko’s hometown of Novosibirsk in 2019 after his team, the St. Louis Blues, won the championship. “It took twenty-two hours to get back from there.”
The Cup had taken Bolt to Japan, to the Ground Zero pit after 9/11, and to Afghanistan. In Kandahar he had suffered a missile attack, during which Bolt, unconscious, sat on the trunk reading Maxim. He was later praised for sticking with the Cup to protect it. “I missed the security briefing,” he said.
Employees came to work.
“What is the Stanley Cup?”
“I’m a hockey jerk, but I didn’t expect him to look like a tiffin.”
“I’m not exactly the demo. I was programming in BASIC and hang out at the multiplex.
This being a magazine office, the discussions turned into typos. The Cup is ugly with them. the He is. the maple leaves. the BRUINS BQSTQN. (One name from 2010 removed – that of a Chicago Blackhawks video coach who was convicted of sexual misconduct.)
There is a replica of the Cup, with corrections, in the Hall of Fame. And the original version of the silver bowl that crowns it, the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, bought in 1892 for $48.67 by Lord Stanley of Preston, the Governor General of Canada, sits behind glass in Toronto, alongside the old rings. of names. To keep the trophy the same size, the silver band on which the oldest names are inscribed is replaced every thirteen years by a new ring: dead hockey players, constantly brought back to the past.
But this Cup, the Cup, had been through a lot. There were nicks and dents and repairs that looked like welds. After Rangers won it in 1994, they went wild. “They brought it to Scores,” Bolt said. The league, dismayed, having already considered not letting teams take him home anymore, opted instead to hire guards. Yet every summer, it takes a beating: pool parties, Jet Ski parties, Scotch chug-a-thons, baby poop. A suture on the lip of the bowl was the result of its fall last year by a Tampa grinder named Pat Maroon. Someone suggested that the dings gave it character.
Bolt said, “Let’s see what you look like when you’re a hundred and thirty and partying as hard as the Cup. ♦