Matt Greene becomes the third UND hockey alum to share sport’s most famous trophy with Grand Forks fans
Judging by the crowds and excitement built up around Grand Forks, one would think President Obama, Brad Pitt or another major celebrity was in town, but nope.
The crowds came to catch a glimpse of the Holy Grail of the sports world ― the Stanley Cup. The Cup was brought to town by Matt Greene, Los Angeles Kings defenseman and UND hockey alumnus, and Tony Gasparini, a Los Angeles Kings scout, Grand Forks native and son of legendary former UND hockey coach John "Gino" Gasparini.
"I wouldn't be where I am now without attending UND," said Greene.
The Cup was available for public viewing from noon-3 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 12, at the Ralph Engelstad Arena (REA). Young and old, from near and far, gathered with friends and family in a line that stretched halfway around the REA and patiently waited for their turn to pose with the legendary trophy. The waiting crowd was estimated to comprise more than 5,000 people.
"It's a chance to see a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Connie Hoffman, Billings, Mont.
"It was a 10 hour drive, said Dennis, Connie's husband. "But it's worth it," added Connie.
It may have been a rare opportunity for those who trekked long distances to Grand forks to see, arguably, sport's most famous trophy, but for others who've lived in Grand Forks the past 15 years or so, a visit by Lord Stanley's Cup is becoming more commonplace. The Cup has made two other appearances in Grand Forks thanks to former UND hockey stars Mike Commodore in 2006 and Ed Belfour in 1999.
"It's been with so many players and to so many places," said Travor Fredrickson, a UND alumnus from Fargo.
"It's a really neat thing, I think it's great that (Greene) brought it back to UND," said Angel Soderberg, Buxton, N.D. "Our hockey players really do bleed green and white."
"It's an opportunity to show my son what can happen if you aspire towards your dreams," said Jenny Grant, who grew up in Grand Forks but is now living Fargo. Grant was visiting The Cup with her five-year-old son.
While in Greene's hands, The Cup has gotten its own mini tour of Grand Forks and the surrounding area, visiting some of Greene's old college hangouts. On Monday evening, Greene brought the Cup to the American Legion Bar in Manvel, N.D., Judy's Tavern in Grand Forks, and even a 2 a.m. trip to a Red Pepper restaurant.
"It's an unbelievable place to go to school (UND), it's a great place to live, a great community and the program is No. 1 in the nation, and they make the sacrifices and adjustments to stay on top," said Greene. "It was a real special time of my life."
Greene also brought the Cup to Grand Ledge, Mich., his hometown.
"Having the Cup always makes for a good day; it never gets old; it never wears off," said Greene.
About the Stanley Cup:
The Stanley Cup, notably the oldest trophy competed for by professional athletes in North America, was donated in 1892 by Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, Lord Stanley of Preston and son of the Earl of Derby. He purchased the trophy for 10 Guineas ($50 at that time) to be presented to "the championship hockey club of the Dominion of Canada." The first team ever awarded the Stanley Cup was the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association in 1893.
Since 1910, when the National Hockey Association took possession of the Stanley Cup, the trophy has been symbolic of professional hockey supremacy. Since in 1926, only NHL teams have competed for this prized trophy.
The Montreal Canadiens have won a record 23 Stanley Cups since the formation of the NHL (they also won in 1916), with Toronto a distant second at 13. The Canadiens also hold the record for most consecutive championships with five, accomplished between the years 1956 and 1960.
There have been numerous alterations to the Cup structure. In its infancy, tiered rings were added periodically to the bottom of the bowl. This was followed by long narrow bands in 1927, which were later replaced by uneven bands in 1947. Because the Cup is the only professional sports trophy where the name of every member of the winning team is inscribed, bands are often retired to make room for new champions. Retired bands, along with the original Stanley Cup bowl, are proudly displayed in Lord Stanley's Vault in the Esso Great Hall. Currently, the Cup consists of a bowl, three tiered bands, a collar, and five barrel or uniform bands. The trophy stands at 35 ¼ inches and weighs 34 ½ pounds.
Each year upon presentation of the trophy to the championship team, a summer of celebration begins, as each of the organization's players and staff enjoy 24 hours with the Cup ― a tradition which has no rival in any sport. In its many years of existence, the Stanley Cup has traveled around the world, including stays in Grand Forks, Russia, Japan and Switzerland as well as atop mountain peaks through the Rockies and inside igloos in Canada's newest territory, Nunavut.
The legend and glory of the Stanley Cup continues to live in the dreams of hockey players and fans alike.
University & Public Affairs student writer