The Stanley Cup stopped in Las Vegas on April 6, making an appearance with longtime keeper Mike Bolt at The Westin.
The Golden Knights hope to ensure it makes a return trip.
The Knights would be the 19th active NHL franchise to have its name engraved on the oldest-existing sports trophy in North America — a 3-foot tall, 90-pound piece of legendary hardware. It’s made numerous stops in Las Vegas before, but if it came back in the hands of the Knights, its chaperone knows that would be a special moment.
“You see the people walking around town with the shirts and the jerseys and the ball caps and stuff like that. You know there’s now an NHL presence here,” Bolt said. “Not just when we come for the awards, but we’ve got an NHL presence here all year ’round. It’s pretty cool. We’ll see what happens the next two and a half months if they’re able to bring it back home.”
Bolt accompanies the trophy around the globe; it’s on the road for about 330 days a year. That includes the Stanley Cup Final, which determines which team’s captain will hoist it over his shoulders and take the first of many traditional victory laps around the ice.
“I think one of my favorite traditions is the passing of the Cup on the ice,” Bolt said. “Seeing who’s the second guy to get it.”
The Cup, which has been the NHL’s championship trophy since 1926, usually appears at victory parades and hot spots in the winning town, before each player gets to bring it to his own community for a day. It’s made stops in Las Vegas on those occasions, starting when Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender John Grahame brought it to the Palms in 2004.
“The entire town gets behind it. They’ll cheer for the guy that’s going to be able to bring the Cup home,” Bolt said. “It’s a unique moment. It doesn’t happen very often.”
The Cup’s next big event comes in September, when the winning roster is engraved on one of its five rings. The number of bands is capped at five to keep the trophy small enough to hoist and travel on airplanes. When the newest ring gets full, the oldest is retired and placed in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
Two rings have been taken off the Cup. A third, covering 1954-65, will be removed in May.
“The Gordie Howes, the Bobby Hulls. There’s a lot of great names coming off the Cup this year,” Bolt said.
The only Knights player with his name on the Cup is Marc-Andre Fleury, who had his name engraved three times as part of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He’ll likely be able to fill in his teammates on all the traditions and superstitions surrounding the NHL’s grand prize if they get that far, though Fleury knows how hard it is to actually touch the Cup.
“If people in Las Vegas think the regular season was exciting, they ain’t seen nothing yet,” Bolt said. “The playoffs are awesome. I’d like to challenge any sports fan who thinks the Stanley Cup playoffs are not the most exciting type of playoff sport in the world. It’s end-to-end action, edge-of-your-seat action.”