Stephenson, Stanley Cup visit Emma Lake

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. An audience looks on as Vegas Golden Knights forward Chandler Stephenson hoists the Stanley Cup on the beach at Sunset Bay Resort on Emma Lake Tuesday afternoon.

There was a crowd buzzing with anticipation at Sunset Bay Resort on Emma Lake Tuesday afternoon.

Vegas Golden Knights forward Chandler Stephenson brought the Stanley Cup to the beach on the lake to spend his day with the trophy after the Golden Knights took home the championship, defeating the Florida Panthers in five games in the Stanley Cup Final earlier this year.

It is the second time Stephenson has hoisted the most treasured trophy in sports. Stephenson won his first Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals in 2018, who defeated the Golden Knights in five games.

Stephenson says he wanted to enjoy his day in a more relaxed setting than he did in 2018 when he took the Cup to Humboldt, just months after the bus crash.

“The first one was back home where I grew up, and (I) just kind of wanted to be a part of it with everybody, wanted everybody to be a part of it and all that. Just bringing it up here, (we’ve) always been up here to my wife’s family’s cabin, and it’s kind of like a second home for us. It’s just such a cool spot and a little bit more low key.”

Stephenson added that he was soaking in the experience of having the day to spend with the Stanley Cup.

“I think that (I’m) just enjoying this one more. (I’m) obviously fortunate enough to get a second one. I said if I ever was fortunate enough to win a second one that I’d be a little bit more low key with it and enjoy it.”

When Stephenson took home the Stanley Cup with Washington in 2018, he was in his first full season in the NHL. Stephenson posted 18 points across 67 regular season games for the Capitals and added seven points across 24 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

“The first one was my first year in the league, so I didn’t really understand it. I didn’t know how hard it was to win. We just had such a good team that everyone was good. You just need that team that clicks and to be a part of one that (I) contributed a little bit more in feels a little bit more rewarding.”

Although he was on the winning side of the Golden Knights last Stanley Cup appearance in 2018, several players from the inaugural Vegas roster got a chance to avenge the demons of the 2018 Finals loss in 2023.

William Karlsson, Jonathon Marchessault, Shea Theadore and Brayden McNabb were all members of the original Golden Knights team and got to hoist the trophy.

“I think that’s something that’s so cool is for them to be that close and then to finally win one.” Stephenson says. “It’s been an amazing organization from day one, just world class and for the guys that have been there since day one to finally win one, it’s amazing. When you win, it’s a bond and a team and you’ll have those friendships forever. It brings you that much closer.”

A crowd of at least 200 people greeted Stephenson as he arrived at the dock with his family on their pontoon boat. There was an opportunity for groups to get their photo taken with the Stanley Cup and get items autographed by Stephenson on the beach.

Stephenson says he was surprised by the volume of the crowd.

“It’s crazy. I think it was last weekend, we put some fliers out just around the lake and this is (what) the turnout was. It’s pretty cool. For all the kids and the families that get to see it and get pictures and all that, it’s pretty special. You want to give back as much as you can and share it with everybody.”

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Chandler Stephenson holds the Stanley Cup.

Keeper of the Cup

Joining Stephenson at Emma Lake was Howie Borrow.  Borrow was one of two Cup Keepers in attendance. The Stanley Cup is always accompanied by a minimum of one cup keeper who is employed by the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Borrow says besides the special case the Stanley Cup is packed in, the cup is handled normally when in transit.

“It travels in a protective case, its form fitted on the inside and it has wheels, so it’s easier to push it through the airport.  When we get to the airport, we have to go through TSA like any other oversize package. Once they check it and make sure it’s okay to travel, we lock it up and then it’s put on the plane. Once we get to the next location, it’ll come out as an oversize package and we continue on from there.”

Although his job title goes by many different names, Borrow says he enjoys the experience of interacting with hockey fans all over the world.

“We’re cup keepers. We get called a little bit of everything. Keepers of the cup, Cup keepers, cup guys, Cup dudes. We’re just happy to be a part of this great tradition of the Cup traveling like that. We’re just happy to be able to share it with so many people.”

Regardless of where the Stanley Cup travels to, it always draws a crowd. Borrow says he enjoys talking with hockey fans about the nature of his position whenever the Stanley Cup is on display.

“It’s a privilege just to be able to travel with it, especially in Canada. The Stanley Cup is glorified. It’s the Holy Grail. It’s the ultimate prize to win. It’s so special to so many people in so many different ways, too. For me to be able to have that opportunity to see all the different locations that I can bring it, to see all the different people that want to see it and get to meet them and share stories back and forth. To me, that’s the fun part about the job.”

According to Borrow, the Stanley Cup is on the road for nearly 320 days a year traveling with players of the championship team during the summer and attending various charity and corporate events for the Hockey Hall of Fame and NHL during the regular season.

He says he enjoys taking the Stanley Cup to places where hockey isn’t necessarily the most popular sport.

“When you get to go to other places that the cup has never been before, that’s when it’s really special because you get to see the wonder in everybody’s eyes when they’re looking at wondering what it is. It’s always fun to be able to talk about it and give them a little bit of education for it.”

When asked about his favorite experience as a cup keeper, Borrow recalls taking the Stanley Cup to Russia in the summer of 2018.

“Taking it to Russia with Alexander Ovechkin (was a highlight). He had put about $15,000 worth of caviar in the bowl. He took it around the city. We were in Red Square, and we were there during the time of the World Cup of soccer. There were just so many people. It was just amazing to see, first of all, they noticed Alex, and then also they saw the cup and we just get smothered. People are just crowding in. They want to see the cup. They’re very excited for it.”

A replica of the Stanley Cup is always on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.