Any team that wins a championship deserves a huge parade in their hometown in front of thousands of their adoring fans. They deserve to party the night away and celebrate what they were able to accomplish.
However… if you do something dumb while celebrating, don’t be shocked when people start getting upset. Especially from the town whose team you beat.
When a (probably) hammered Tom Brady tossed the Lombardi Trophy over the Hillsborough River, several championship-depraved fans, and the daughter of the first Lombardi Trophy smith, griped at the Tampa Bay quarterback’s lack of respect for the championship trophy. I get it. Personally, I wasn’t too upset at Brady and company. Not only does Tom Brady throw football shaped objects for a living, but also the throw didn’t seem very far, and the Lombardi Trophy weighs just over seven pounds. At the very worst, one of the 55 Super Bowl Trophies ends up at the bottom of a river. Would it have been unfortunate? Yes. Would Tom Brady deserve tons of snide remarks and criticism for losing the trophy? Absolutely. But there’s still 54 more.
That’s not the case with the Stanley Cup. There are only three Stanley Cups: the original, which has been retired; the official Cup, located in the Hockey Hall of Fame; and the Presentation Cup, which is the one the players get to skate around with and take home. Several hockey fans don’t consider the Presentation Cup a real trophy — thinking of it more as a replica. Therefore, the players should be allowed to do whatever they want with it. After all, the Presentation Cup has seen some horrible stuff happen to it over the years. In 2008, Red Wings center Kris Draper placed his infant daughter atop the Cup. It was a cute moment, until his daughter decided she had to “do some business.” The Cup has had urine, dog food, and probably all sorts of other gross materials in it. It’s seen its fair share of bumps, dents, and bruises. Basically, no matter what happens to the Presentation Cup during the Lightning’s celebration, it’s been through worse. Therefore, when this picture of Lightning winger Pat Maroon emerged holding the Cup with a giant dent at the top, many fans just laughed it off.
Several others didn’t feel as giddy. Perhaps they don’t know about the Cup’s history, or perhaps they understand the fact that, although the Presentation Cup is not the “official” trophy, it is the one awarded to the victors. In a sense, that might make the Presentation Cup more official than the Cup in the Hockey Hall of Fame. If the “official” Cup is never used for celebration by the championship team, is it really a championship trophy?
Those fans believe that the Presentation Cup is more than a cheap knock-off, it’s a visual representation of the trials and tribulations that the Cup winner went through in order to come out on top. It honors all who won the Cup before; and when it’s treated poorly, that dishonors the history of the sport.
How do you think Montreal fans feel after seeing the Cup in this shape? The Canadiens have won the most Stanley Cups in NHL history (24 — eleven more than the next closest team, Toronto), but haven’t hoisted the Cup since 1993. You can bet they wanted this Cup badly. They wanted it more than anything, so you can imagine how awful it must feel to see the Lightning damage it. To add insult to injury, the Cup is currently being sent to Montreal in order to repair that dent. That’s gotta hurt.
So, who’s on the right side of this argument? Does it really matter what happens to the Presentation Cup? Not really. When Phil Pritchard, the official Cup Keeper, says, “No worries, this has happened before,” that nullifies any complaints. If an official representative of the Hockey Hall of Fame says it’s alright, I don’t think anyone else has a right to say that damaging the Cup is disrespectful to the sport. In fact, dents in any championship trophy have never been a big deal in the past. Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ tight end, Rob Gronkowski famously dented the Super Bowl 53 Lombardi Trophy as a member of the New England Patriots, and no one batted an eye. Let the Lightning have some fun. Don’t get all pouty just because it’s not your team making marks on the Stanley Cup.