Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cup Crazy

Has the Stanley Cup been to Stanley Park?

Why, yes it has. And I was right there with it, at the foot of the statue of Lord Frederick Arthur Stanley of Preston: the former Conservative Member of the British Parliament, the Earl of Derby and Canada's Governor General from 1888-1893.

When Labatt was the official beer of the National Hockey League, it conducted its Cup Crazy promotional tour across Canada.
The tour came through North Vancouver in 1999 and made a stop at the North Vancouver city fire hall.

I was working for the North Shore News newspaper at the time and arranged for West Vancouver resident and Hockey Hall of Famer Clint Smith to show up for a photo with the grandest trophy in North American sport.
Smith was a member of the 1940 Stanley Cup champion New York Rangers.

Hold your booing, please.

Mr. Smith, who lived to be 95 before being called up to the Heavenly Hockey League in 2009, was a Saskatchewan native. Before becoming a Ranger in 1936, he spent three years as a Vancouver Lion in the North West Hockey League. In 1933-34 he scored 25 goals and assisted 14 in just 34 games.

By virtue of being a Hockey Hall of Famer and a member of a Cup-winning team, Mr. Smith, whose nickname was "Snuffy," got to hoist the Cup. Needless to say, it made his day.

It made my day when I continued on with the Labatt and Hockey Hall of Fame crew for lunch and a jaunt into Stanley Park where we posed with the Stanley Cup at the popular statue of the park's namesake.

Lord Stanley never witnessed a Stanley Cup game. But he did enjoy Vancouver's most famous park. It opened on Sept. 28, 1888, but Lord Stanley himself came for the official dedication on Oct. 29, 1889.

I predict the Stanley Cup will return to Stanley Park sometime during June 2011. And Vancouverites will be proud of calling the park -- and the trophy -- theirs.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Stanley Cup: the Battle of Whistler Blackcomb

A lot is being made of Cam Neely's return to Vancouver as president of the Boston Bruins, the last team standing in the way of the Vancouver Canucks' first Stanley Cup.

The right-winger was drafted ninth overall by the Canucks in 1983 but traded on his 29th birthday June 6, 1986 to the Bruins for Barry Pederson. When he retired in 1996, Neely had 395 goals and 299 assists in 726 regular season games and 57 goals and 32 assists in 93 playoff games. He was deservedly inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2005. He also dabbled in the movies, as the notorious Sea Bass in Dumb and Dumber.

Neely was born in Comox, B.C. but raised in Maple Ridge, B.C. Though his executive post with the Bruins keeps him primarily in Boston, he retains Vancouver business ties as a member of the Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. board of directors.

Who else might you know on the Whistler Blackcomb board? John Furlong, who was the CEO of the Vancouver Olympics.

Furlong showed his colours April 24 during game six of the Canucks' first round series against the Chicago Blackhawks. You might've caught a quick glimpse of VANOC boss Furlong on Hockey Night in Canada, wearing a number 10 Canucks' jersey and waving a Canadian flag after Alex Burrows' goal in game six at United Center in Chicago. Furlong, amid a sea of red-clad Blackhawks' fans, was treated to the trip by Canucks' owner and VANOC sponsor Francesco Aquilini. A source tells me Furlong was sprayed with a drink by an unruly Chicago fan.

Furlong was in friendlier territory five days later when he flogged his Patriot Hearts book in a lunchtime speech to the Canadian Community Newspapers Association Ink + Beyond conference at River Rock Show Theatre at the Richmond casino. The audience included his new female companion, Deborah Shaw.

When Whistler Blackcomb's board of directors meets after mid-June, either Neely or Furlong will be sporting a bigger smile.

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