Hockey players know there's nothing like the Stanley Cup

The Lightning Perspective: Stanley Cup

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
 
 
Updated 6/3/2015 2:29 PM

TAMPA -- Once, it was a surprise visitor, a curiosity. Then it became an old friend. Now it has returned, a welcome sight indeed, even in the land of beaches, sunshine and palm trees. Who knows? Maybe it's planning another extended stay.

Welcome back, Stanley Cup.

 

The National Hockey League's ultimate prize again is within sight for the Lightning, who open the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday night at home against the Chicago Blackhawks.

It's about the endurance test of an 82-game regular season, then four best-of-seven rounds of the playoffs. It's about seizing the moment. It's about pride. It's about history.

But mostly, it's about the most famous trophy in sports.

There's only one Stanley.

It's 122 years old. It stands 3 feet tall. It weighs 35 pounds, a hollowed-out chalice made of silver and nickel alloy, sitting atop several layers of silver bands containing the etching of player names from decades of championship teams. It forms a layered base, almost in the shape of a wedding cake, which props up a punch bowl.

It travels nearly 300 days a year and has been photographed with thousands upon thousands of fans. It's the dream of every hockey player. Those in the know don't dare touch it, not until their team wins the NHL championship.

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Then, if that moment actually happens, the Stanley Cup becomes part of the family. In 1995, the NHL decreed that every player, coach and team management member be allowed at least one day with the Cup.

"You can eat out of it, drink out of it, sleep with it," said former Lightning forward Chris Dingman, a member of Tampa Bay's 2004 Stanley Cup champion team.

• Printed with permission of the (Tampa Bay) Tribune. See the full article at http://tbo.com/

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