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September 12, 2002 - Stanley's Summer: Parties and cereal
My Kris Draper Page

Stanley's summer: Parties and cereal

September 12, 2002

BY HELENE ST. JAMES
FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER

Where are my Froot Loops? And why aren't they in the Stanley Cup?

Oh, to be a Red Wings daddy. One plans a schedule, fitting in a party for close friends that somehow still reaches 500. One takes the Cup to bars and hospitals and at the beginning of every day to the kitchen table. And it is here that one's children so fervently, passionately fall in love with this new toy that it is absolutely heartbreaking when it can no longer be found.

The Wings left Wednesday for training camp in Traverse City, having run out of days to spend with the Stanley Cup they won just three months ago. Some partied with it in Sweden, others took it to the Czech Republic and used it to aid a nation beleaguered by floods. Chris Chelios took it to Wrigley Field, and Luc Robitaille gave it a star-studded tour of Los Angeles that included a visit to Universal Studios theme park, the Hollywood sign and Grauman's Chinese Theater. Brendan Shanahan kept things as low-key as possible, opting to set the Cup on a dock by his cottage and ignore the doorbell. Almost everyone lost sleep while they had it.

Kris Draper had neither daughter, Kennedi, nor son, Kienan, the last time he had the Cup four years ago, and he made this third go-around with it a family affair. Dozens of rolls of film were used on pictures with the two sitting in the Cup, sleeping next to it, eating from it. Kennedi, 2 1/2, ate her daily bowl of cereal from it and needed only two days to like it too much to hand it back.

"Sometimes when she wants to have breakfast she asks if she can have cereal out of the Stanley Cup and I'm like, 'You know, it's not that easy to do that,' " Draper said, smiling. "We only get to do that two mornings and that's it."

The two-day limit tends to stretch and stress the Cup's host, father or not. The Cup breeds goodwill toward neighbors and strangers, prompting parties the size of a Kennedy family reunion and a daily planner with more appointments than the president's.

"It's crazy," Kirk Maltby said. "It's almost like planning, I don't know, a big anniversary party of some sort. It's really time-consuming. You want everyone to have a chance to see it. It's just so hard to cut things off but you have to go to certain things, you have a schedule booked. It's a lot of fun but it's very tiring and by the end of your time with it, you just want to get some sleep."

Manny Legace got up at 6 in the morning the day he got the Cup to fit in a round of golf before it arrived. It was his only relaxed time of the day.

"We took it to the children's hospital near where I live, then to my hometown and had a little autograph session which ended up being about 3 1/2 hours," Legace said. "We took pictures with it. We had a family function, and then went partying with it to a little bar I used to go to in high school all the time.

"You don't stop. The whole day you can't relax, you're running, running, running, go, go, go, go, go. In the end it was fun, but you look back and wonder, where did that day go?"

Over the course of the summer the Cup visited dozens of sick children, making stops at hospitals across Canada and in Pardubice, the Czech hometown of retired goaltender Dominik Hasek. He took the Cup there on a Sunday morning in August, and then brought it home for brunch while a party that would last more than eight hours began in the town square. The party was Hasek's farewell to professional hockey, and he raised the Cup with former teammates Jiri Slegr, Jiri Fischer and Ladislav Kohn to salute a fabulous career and an early retirement. Fischer took the Cup to his hometown of Beroun, but had to keep it indoors because most of the town lay under water caused by central Europe's worst flooding in 500 years.

The Cup arrived in Praque flush from Sweden, where Nicklas Lidstrom carried it like a baby into his bar in Vasteras and Tomas Holmstrom played host in his hometown, Pitea. "It has been there three times so it's like old friend coming over," he said.

The Cup's European tour began in Russia, with Igor Larionov, Pavel Datsyuk and Maxim Kuznetsov. Sergei Fedorov stopped by for a party in Moscow, but opted to save his days for the Cup's return from the Czech Republic, at which point he hoisted it over his head and swaggered into a bar in Royal Oak.

In Moscow, the Cup met mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who gave a little speech and mentioned that although he wasn't a hockey expert, he "was sure that the Stanley Cup was one of the most prestigious awards in the world of sport." The Cup also ran into an old friend in the new minister of sport, Slava Fetisov, the former Wing who with Larionov took the Cup on its first trip to Russia in 1997. Back then, they had to convince people they should care.

"First time, people saw the Cup and nobody knew about it," Larionov said. "Now we had lots of requests from people to have their picture taken with it or to see it."

The allure of the Cup has become a worldwide sensation, but it runs deepest in one's own backyard. Weeks after the Cup left the Drapers, they sat on their deck chatting about nothing in particular when all of a sudden, Kennedi ambled over.

"She just grabbed one of her little chairs and raised it over her head and said, 'I got the Stanley Cup,' " Draper said. "We weren't even talking about it."

But just like her dad, his colleagues, and a party-mad army of Wings fans scattered across the globe, she misses it, and wants it back.

Contact HELENE ST. JAMES at 313-222-2295 or stjames@freepress.com.