TORONTO - A victory lap with the Stanley Cup might one day become a space walk.
One of those entrusted with accompanying the oldest trophy of the major sports around the world thinks it’s ready for the final frontier.
The Cup has already been where few have gone before, inside the shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“Mr. (Jeremy) Jacobs, the Boston Bruins owner, has some business there,” Cup custodian Mike Bolt said Friday during Stanley’s visit to Sunnybrook Veterans Centre in Toronto. “Mr. Jacobs, myself, (Hall of Fame curator) Phil Pritchard and the Cup all got on the shuttle’s flight deck.
“Not even Mr. Jacobs could’ve got that access without the Cup. We were told that 0.1% of NASA employees got to see what we did. Talk about the Cup opening up doors.
“I am convinced the Cup will get into space one day, I bet within the next 20 years. It will probably be an owner who has the money when space travel becomes more regular.”
Bolt says the Cup is ready for its busiest six months, the playoff run and then the 100 days it is controlled by the winning team, with each player and select club officials getting it for one day.
“Every year it goes in for work in September and we put a new black base on it. There’s usual wear and tear that takes place. We had one incident last year in Newfoundland with the table breaking under it on Michael Ryder’s day. There was some repair work done, but Boffey’s silversmith’s in Montreal, who’ve been working on the Cup for generations, were going to refurbish and engrave it anyway. So it was fortunate the accident happened before and not after. The bowl (which holds 14 bottles of beer according to Bolt), especially takes some bumps over the years. We’ll give it a good cleaning before the final.”
The White House visit in January was the last time the defending champion Bruins saw it, all except goalie Tim Thomas of course.
“No team ever has it to themselves,” said Bolt, who rides shotgun to all events. “But by the time they were meeting President Obama, the Bruins were ready to distance themselves from the Cup. (It reminds them) they’re trying to re-capture it. There is that separation, they want to move on and Lord Stanley’s vision was that one club should not hang on to it for an extended period.”
Most of the elderly residents at Sunnybrook couldn’t believe it when the mug made a surprise arrival in their recreation area. One visually impaired man was able to hold it in his lap and run his fingers around the bowl and trace the engraved names.
“The cool thing about being here is that these are vets who fought in World War II and remember when the Cup was won many times in Toronto,” Bolt said. “They’re telling stories from the 1930s and ‘40s, all the way up to the last Cup in 1967. One man told us he remembered when the Cup was stove-pipe shaped and was displayed at Eatons.”