On Saturday night many Vineyarders could be heard to exclaim that they would never wash their hands again. It’s a cry usually reserved for encounters with celebrities, and on Saturday night at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport, the celebrity in question was 34 and a half pounds, made of silver, and raised triumphantly over the head of Boston Bruins president Cam Neely.
The Stanley Cup had arrived.
In the Cup’s first public appearance since the Bruins’ victory parade, the NHL trophy made its way from the tarmac of the airport to Sharky’s Cantina, lower Main street in Edgartown, and a late-night party at the Wharf before being viewed by an estimated 1,000 fans the next morning at the Edgartown School. The visit was arranged thanks to the efforts of Tony Chianese of Edgartown Marine, the Edgartown police department, and Jeremy Jacobs Jr. Mr. Jacobs, a Katama homeowner, is the son of Bruins owner Jeremy Sr.
“It was awesome to hear that it was coming to the Island,” said regional high school hockey captain Nelson Dickson, who with the rest of his team and the varsity girls’ squad were on hand to greet the Cup when it arrived at the airport.
“I’m freaking out,” said girls’ goalie Texe Craig after getting two photos taken with Bruins coach Claude Julien, an unexpected guest in the trophy’s Vineyard entourage. “That was so cool.”
According to Brian Hurley, a blueliner on the boys’ team, the experience “leaves you speechless — it’s pretty hard to describe.”
“Yo, Brian,” burst in teammate Colby Gouldrup, “Did you see the photo of you and me holding it?”
The picture in question was on the camera of girls’ team captain Gillian O’Callaghan, who was one of several members of the squad to inadvertently arrange the airport encounter when she texted coach John Fiorito to see if the girls could have a team outing on Sunday morning to view the Cup at the Edgartown School. Instead they were on hand to see the trophy touch down.
The end result was beyond what any of the hockey players could have imagined.
“It’s thanks to the Edgartown police department and the Jacobs family [that we could have this opportunity,” Mr. Fiorito said. “They were generous enough with their time. They share the Stanley Cup with everybody. That’s the beauty of it.”
Ensuring that as many people as possible could see the Cup was the goal for Edgartown police chief Tony Bettencourt and the rest of the department, who donated their time Saturday and Sunday to assist with security.
“We think it’s that big a deal for the Island,” said Chief Bettencourt after the Cup had moved to Lower Main street. “It’s worth it.”
Well over 500 fans crowded around to see the Cup on its Main street pedestal, before it was taken inside the Boathouse for a private function.
But before going inside, it was handed to Edgartown fireman Bob Brown, standing on security detail on one of the town fire trucks. Mr. Brown took the only natural route — he raised it over his head a lÃ¡ Zdeno Chara (and Cam Neely), much to the delight of the crowd.
“I held it with great pride,” he said afterward. “Never in my lifetime did I dream I’d hold the Stanley Cup.”
By Sunday morning the seemingly bottomless reserve of enthusiasm for the trophy had not waned as a daunting line formed outside the Edgartown school where the trophy went on display.
Charlie Shipway of Chilmark hauled an unusual chair next to the trophy where he parked his son Tyler for a photo-op. Mr. Shipway fashioned the chair out of broken sticks collected from the Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena and built it in between periods of the Stanley Cup.
“I collected these sticks, then I built this chair, then I watched the rest of the Stanley Cup in it, including game seven, which we watched again this morning,” he said. “We have a couple nets in our basement and last night we played game seven too.”
Mr. Shipway hopes to raffle off the chair to benefit the hockey rink. Sunday was also Tyler’s seventh birthday and he didn’t hesitate when asked who his favorite player was.
“Tyler Seguin!” he said, referring to the youngest member of the Bruins squad.
Watching the parade of awestruck gawkers with an unsmiling vigilance was Mike Bolt, the NHL’s official keeper of the Cup of 12 years.
Mr. Bolt was without his signature white gloves but not without tales of glory and debauchery. Of the Bruins recent headline-grabbing $156,679.74 bar tab at Foxwoods, $100,000 of which poured out of a single bottle of champagne into the cup, Mr. Bolt was tight-lipped.
“Yeah, I was there,” he says with a long knowing laugh, before recovering his stone-faced public relations persona. “It was a good night. That was really the night the guys could celebrate on their own and as an entire team really let loose.”
During the summer after each championship, every player, coach and trainer of the winning team is allowed one day with the regal hardware. It’s a tradition that has brought Mr. Bolt all over the world, from a mountaintop sunrise with former Blackhawks winger Andrew Ladd to a trip to Siberia with Pavel Datsyuk and northern Sweden with Peter Forsberg. In 2004 Mr. Bolt accompanied Jay Feaster of the Tampa Bay Lightning on what he deemed the most unusual of his many Cup adventures.
“He took it to Kennedy Space Center and we were able to bring it onto the space shuttle,” he said. “Nobody ever gets that kind of access so that was an amazing day.”
He has accompanied the Cup on fishing trips and golf outings and the cup has often proved functional rather than merely symbolic.
“Cereal has been eaten out of it in the morning, to ice cream sundaes to a few beverages by the end of the day,” he said.
Mr. Bolt will accompany the trophy in the coming week to Buffalo, then Boston, then off to California where it will grace Yosemite Park and Pebble Beach. This weekend though it was all the Vineyard’s.
By 10 a.m. on Saturday the line spilled out of the Edgartown School parking lot, some several hundred yards long. At the end of the line was Chris Mara of Edgartown. As a testament to the power this legendary trophy exerts over hockey fans, Mr. Mara was drawn not to celebrate the 2011 Bruins but rather to see the names of his beloved early 1980s New York Islanders. Mr. Mara spoke quietly and cautiously among the throngs of yellow and black.
“That’s what’s kind of unique about the Stanley Cup,” he said. “Everybody’s name gets put on it and it’s permanent.”