One of my lifelong goals is to be on the medical staff of a Stanley Cup winning NHL team as a team physician, so when the idea of this story series was brought up I was all for it. Then I had to start thinking about what I could do in just 24 hours, and more importantly how I could evenly divide everything up. As I conclude my third decade of life I am closing the door on a third city of living which makes spending just one day with the cup even harder to think about since hockey has played a major role in my life in all three cities. After some thought I have been able to put together what I feel would be an ideal day for me and my day with the cup. For the ease of this story let’s assume I am on the Penguins medical staff and working at a Pittsburgh based hospital, because if there’s any team I would want to be a part of winning the Cup with…
One week before I would get my day I would hold a charity auction with the benefits going to a foundation at the hospital I would currently be working for, with the winning bidder getting a chance to eat their breakfast out of the cup. Following this breakfast with the lucky winner I would take the cup to the pediatrics unit first and then other areas of the hospital to anyone with an interest in seeing it. Considering this would take about 4 hours it’s already noon and luckily my brother has his pilot license and can fly smaller aircraft, so we would load up and fly to Frederick, Maryland.
I moved to a Baltimore suburb when I was 15, and finally played competitive hockey in the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League for 3 years with our games taking place at Skate Frederick.
Since this is where I got my first true taste of competitive hockey (no offense to the intense pick-up games and those that joined in before this) I would take the cup here, and sit it at center ice for the mites, the pee-wees, the juniors and the high school kids to come and see, touch, take selfies with, whatever. I can only imagine what it would be like to see the joy on some 5-year-old kids face when the Stanley Cup shows up at his/her practice, and I want to be the person that makes that happen. This whole part would probably take 5 hours so it’s around 5 pm, and there is one thing left to do.
We load the cup back into the small plane and my younger brother, who happens to be a huge Penguins fan as well, flies us home, with the cup as his copilot. Note: on the first flight the cup sat next to me because I’m the older brother and that’s the way it works sucka.
I grew up in Garrett County, Maryland and learned to skate in three places: my basement, a tennis court behind the high school, and on Deep Creek Lake in the winter (which lasts about 9 months a year there), my first time on ice.
My father was a huge hockey fan but didn’t know a thing about how to play and my mother was always supportive with sports but didn’t know the difference between Chipper Jones and Jaromir Jagr, bless her heart. It was because of my two uncles that I was so heavily into hockey, my dad’s brother would always sneak my brother and me a hockey stick and skates for Christmas, my uncle on my mom’s side would always get us Penguins clothes and watch every game so stoically that it was impossible not to imitate.
I moved away 12 years ago and haven’t lived closer than 10 hours since, but you never forget your roots. Without my family, I may not have my love for sports, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to throw myself into medical school after dropping out of college once, I wouldn’t be where I am, so the remaining hours of my day are dedicated to the family members, friends, and loved ones that got me here. We arrive at 6:30 pm, and we do the only thing we are all equally good at, we eat and we drink. I can picture it all so clearly, a rented-out banquet hall with a long table draped in brown parchment paper because we’re in Maryland so you know it’s a Chesapeake crab feast. No fancy dinner, a simple crab feast with hotdogs and hamburgers for those that don’t like crabs just like I remember from when I was growing up. Along the table my wife, brother, mom and step-dad, dad and step-mom, grandparents (including a picture of my deceased grandfather, possibly the biggest sports fan in the family), aunts, uncles, cousins, my best friends from my travels all sit around. We are all laughing and sharing stories, creating this amazing memory, while Lord Stanley’s Chalice sits at the center of the table, keeping some cold ones on ice.