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Stanley Cup makes grand entrance at MGM Grand

23 June 2015

By Ron Kantowski
There was another grand entrance at the MGM Grand Las Vegas on Monday afternoon involving a sporting icon.

But hockey’s Stanley Cup was not wearing a TMT jump suit, which is what Floyd Mayweather Jr. was wearing at the MGM’s previous grand entrance, before The Money Team’s main man danced around the boxing ring with Manny Pacquiao.

The high-stepping Southern University marching band didn’t play the Cup into the lobby with sousaphones and such.

I didn’t see one Tecate girl, or even a young woman wearing Chicago Blackhawks colors and an inscription on her tight T-shirt that said “My Cup Size Is Stanley.”

A guy said he heard Lady Byng, on display in the lobby with the other venerable hockey trophies in advance of Wednesday’s NHL awards banquet, ask the Cup, “Where have you been, big boy?”

But this guy looked like he could have been from Saskatchewan, and so he might have been drinking. For it was the middle of the afternoon.

Anyway, to answer the question, the Stanley Cup spent Sunday at a White Sox game. It also served as tiny Emilia Vermette’s first baby crib. She’s the newborn daughter of Blackhawks center Antoine Vermette.

So I would be wary of drinking anything from the Cup while it’s here.

At around 4 p.m., a man with white gloves walked into the main entrance carrying the Cup, and hundreds of people, most wearing Chicago jerseys with Patrick Kane’s number on the back, started going crazy.

The woman standing next to me also got pretty excited. She was dressed for the swimming pool, said she was from Vancouver, that she was 47. I didn’t believe her about being 47, until she nodded toward a couple of Electric Daisies who were with her. These were her daughters.

She made a comment about those hideous yellow, black and red hockey sweaters the Canucks sported back in the day, so perhaps she was 47. There must be some magic elixir in the beer up there.

Lord Stanley’s Mug, as the sportswriters around Moose Jaw sometimes refer to it, is one of professional sports’ most prized trophies. It is known around the world, especially in places where one scrapes ice off the windshield in the morning.

Guys will let their facial hair grow to Joaquin Phoenix length just to have a chance to lift the Cup above their heads and skate a lap around The Building, which is what hockey people call a sports arena.

In keeping with my theory — that if one looks hard enough, one can find a Las Vegas angle to any story or Cup size — I went to the MGM Grand to take a gander at the famous chalice.

I found a local connection to the Cup straight away.

During the 1996-97 season, the Las Vegas Thunder of the defunct International Hockey League had a goalie named Manny Legace. He was a nice guy; I remember the teller at the credit union saying she baked cookies for him. She said Manny always was grateful, despite his 3.16 goals against average.

Legace’s GAA was significantly lower in the NHL, which is why he turned into a good backup netminder, mostly with the Red Wings and Blues. He was with the Wings during the 2001-02 season, and when Detroit won the Cup, his name was engraved upon it.

Only they spelled it wrong.

It came out LAGACE instead of Legace.

Typographical errors are bound to happen, but this was the Stanley Cup — Lord Stanley’s Mug — for Pete Stemkowski’s sake.

It’s not like they let you drive the Zamboni and call it even.

But it turned out OK.

Though many names have been misspelled over the years, only four on the Cup have been corrected: those of Colorado’s Adam Deadmarsh (DEADMARCH), Manny Legace, Carolina’s Eric Staal (STAAAL) and Chicago’s Kris Versteeg (VERTSEEG).

When it happened to Manny Legace, the Hockey Hall of Fame called to smooth things over.

“The bad news is your name is spelled wrong,” said the man with the white gloves, Mike Bolt, one of the Keepers of the Cup. “The good news is we’re going to fix it, and you’ll be part of Cup lore.”

A lot more hockey people probably will recall the Cup lore than will recall Legace played 41 games for Detroit and posted a 2.12 GAA during the 2003-04 season, though 2.12 is pretty stingy — or that he once tripped over the carpet on which Sarah Palin dropped a ceremonial first puck in St. Louis, injured himself, and had to be removed from a game.

I also learned Monday that the inscription ASS MAN appears on the Stanley Cup. It has nothing to do with Cosmo Kramer’s vanity license plate in that one “Seinfeld” episode.

During the 1944-45 season, Frank Selke was an assistant manager for the Stanley Cup-champion Toronto Maple Leafs. When it came time to add his name to the Cup, his title was abbreviated ASS MAN.

This would have been long before that one “Seinfeld” episode, and, apparently, before the engraver ran out of T’s.

“We don’t tell a lot of people about the ass man,” a Hockey Hall of Fame official told the New York Times a few Cups ago. “Players love the story, though.”

Copyright GamingWire. All rights reserved.


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