What single object is the world's most famous champagne cup, potato chip dish and dog-food bowl, while doubling on occasion as a baptismal font?
It's the Stanley Cup.
The Stanley Cup has partied longer and harder than Ozzy Osbourne over its 109-year reign as hockey's Holy Grail. In a tradition unique in professional sports, every player on the championship team gets at least 24 hours to do virtually whatever he wishes with old Stan.
The cup has visited the White House and Lenin's tomb. It's also visited churches, bars, and strip clubs. It's been to the top of mountains and the bottoms of pools. It's been strapped to a Harley, a dog sled, and a golf cart. And along the way, it's been kissed, hugged, and admired by countless millions. Many, undoubtedly, are not hockey fans. They wait on line for more than an hour simply to enjoy a moment in awe of Stanley's grandeur.
This is what the best in the NHL fight for each year: a 35-pound, 3-foot-high polished silver trophy with five removable rings at the base. Each one lists 13 teams and their players, which remain on the cup for 64 years. The older rings are retired and on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
‘Yes, You Can Sleep With the Stanley Cup’
After the winning team takes their victory lap, the Stanley Cup really begins its travels, clocking more than 100,000 miles a year, raising millions of dollars for charity and and acting as hockey's foremost celebrity.
For Mike Bolt, the 32-year-old keeper of the Stanley Cup, it's the days with the players, who often take the cup out for some rowdy partying, that presents the biggest challenge. Last year, Rob Blake of the Colorado Avalanche insisted that the cup be taken to Simcoe, Ontario, where it was perched atop the roof of the combine on his family's farm.
Once a player enjoys his 24 hours, the cup's off to a new teammate.
As long as it does no damage to the cup, Bolt obliges. He can't even name all the players who've taken the cup to bed. Mostly, though, it's just good-hearted celebration: a trip to a favorite restaurant, an old high school, a retirement home, a night out on the town. Several players have taken the trophy to a cemetery to show their parents what they've achieved. "It's really an honor to do my job," Bolt said, after The Wolf Files requested that he bring the sporting world's most famous trophy down to ABCNEWS.com, where we promptly took it on a little visit to nearby Central Park.
Bolt arrived in a blue blazer with the crest of the Hockey Hall of Fame, toting a blue trunk on wheels.
Whenever he presents the cup, he wears white gloves, even though the players can get downright personal with Stanley. He stays with the cup 24 hours a day, more than 200 days a year, making sure it comes home safely to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The full-time job of cup keeper emerged in the mid 1990s, when demand for the cup began pouring in from all over the world. But before then, the Stanely Cup endured all sorts of mishaps and misadventures. Poor old Stanley had been dented, dismantled, submerged in swimming pools, kicked into a canal, and used as a flowerpot and as a dog-food bowl.
Some would call it disrespect. But certainly Stanley has emerged from it all as the most famous of all sports trophies. And perhaps one reason why the cup is so popular is the players' personal relationship with it, which shows all manner of human expression.
Here now are some of the strangest Stanley Cup tales:
Stanley Cup Misadventures
Baptism — Talk about a great save: In 1996, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Sylvain Lefebvre had his daughter baptized in the cup.
Dog-Food Bowl — In 1980, New York Islander Clark Gillies allowed his dog to eat from it. Ranger Ed Olczyk did Stanley a little more honor when he let 1994 Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin eat from it.
Out for a Swim — In 1991, Stanley was found at the bottom of Pittsburgh Penguin Mario Lemieux's swimming pool, a feat later duplicated by Avalanche goalkeeper Patrick Roy.
Strip Club Runway — Gentleman that he is, Stanley has been spotted on several occasions at topless joints. When the Edmonton Oilers took the championship in 1987, the cup ended up on the runway with an exotic dancer at the Forum Inn, just across from the Northland Coliseum.
Mark Messier, who has a reputation of getting pretty rowdy with the cup, reportedly let fans drink from it. Stanley graced another strip club after the Rangers took the cup in 1994. After a wild night in New York City, it was the one time the strip club clientele wanted to touch something other than the dancers.
The Flower Vase — In 1906, members of a Montreal club took the cup to a local photographer. Pictures were taken but the cup was forgotten. It wasn't until weeks later that hockey officials found that the photographer's mother was using the cup to plant geraniums, which were decorating the studio window.
Drop-Kicked Into a Canal — In 1905, some Ottawa Silver Seven players, reveling in their championship, decided they could punt the cup over the Rideau Canal on the Ottawa River. The water was frozen, and at the time the cup didn't have so many rings around the bottom, so it wasn't much larger than a football. The trophy was recovered the next day on the ice.
Stranded at the Side of the Road — In 1924, some Montreal Canadiens left old Stan for roadkill. They were en route to the team owner's house for a victory party and pulled over to fix a flat tire. They didn't realize until after they arrived that they had left the cup roadside. After a frantic ride back, they found it untouched, a mile and a half from the party site.
Bowling Alley Trophy Case — In the early 1900s, a member of the Montreal Wanderers who operated a bowling alley supposedly stuck the cup in a trophy case, heaping gum and cigars in the chalice to impress the clientele and, presumably, to boost sales.
Junk Drawer — When the Ottawa Senators won in 1927, King Clancy supposedly found the Stanley Cup to be a handy holder for junk mail, stray pencils, chewing gum, even cigars.
Meet My Silver Lover — Did they need a new teddy bear? Were they looking for love in all the wrong places? Players regularly take the Stanley Cup to bed for reasons that might best be left unspoken. New York Islander Bryan Trottier once said, "I wanted to wake up and find it right beside me. I didn't want to just dream of this happening." In another act of strange intimacy, Stanley took a shower with Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings.
A Strange Trip — During a 1962 playoff game between the Canadiens and the Chicago Blackhawks, a fan took the cup out of the Chicago stadium display case, telling police outside that he was merely returning it to Montreal, "where it belonged." Buck Wolf is entertainment producer at ABCNEWS.com. The Wolf Files is published Tuesdays. If you want to receive weekly notice when a new column is published, join the e-mail list.