Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
It’s around this time of the year that the Stanley Cup Final would be wrapping up or already concluded depending on how many games it took. The winning team would be celebrating all night long, planning a championship parade in their city in the following days, and catching flights to their home countries for their long-awaited and well-earned Day with the Cup. This postseason is different, but one thing remains the same: the Stanley Cup is ready when the action returns.
Philip Pritchard, widely known as the “Keeper of the Cup”, travels with Lord Stanley to every celebratory function once a team captures the title of Stanley Cup Champion. However, his main role is Vice President and Curator of the resource center at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
“For me, it’s the best part of the season. There’s a new chapter in the life of the Stanley Cup,” Pritchard told The Score’s Nick Faris. “All those emotions that were building up as we headed into March have been put on hold.”
The NHL is planning to return. Phase 2 is underway and training camps have been set for July 10. The Stanley Cup has been kept safe and secure in the closed Hockey Hall of Fame building since March 12, the day the league paused the 2019-20 season due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
While Pritchard has been enjoying time at home with his wife Diane, their three children, and his son’s girlfriend and their daughter, he attends weekly calls with the NHL regarding the Return to Play Plan and various scenarios. The biggest question mark is his role he will play at the Stanley Cup Final. He is usually seen with HHOF colleague Craig Campbell carrying the Cup to the ice.
“Like everyone else, I’m ready whenever,” Pritchard said. “The Cup is here. It’s clean, ready to go. It’s preserved. It’s secure. There’s no worries about that. Like it’s done for the last 127 years, it’s hoping it’s going to have a winner.” There have only been two times the Stanley Cup has not been awarded: the influenza epidemic of 1919 and lockout of the 2004-05 season.
There’s still a lot of questions and unknowns regarding the playoffs, especially the conclusion of it. Players, coaches, and team management look foward to their Day with the Cup that results in large crowds, close quarters, and the traditional kissing the Cup and eating/drinking from its bowl.
Sanitization and following health codes are “really important”, according to Pritchard. “It’ll be no different with the Stanley Cup or coming through the Hockey Hall of Fame or going to a movie. We’ll be following [the] guidelines. I know the players and their families will, as well. What that will be yet, nobody knows.” Specific guidelines will depend on what the world looks like at the conclusion of the postseason.
The 32-year HHOF employee firmly believes no asterisk, real or metaphorical, should be labeled on the winning team if play resumes. “If we have a Stanley Cup champion, that is great. As long as we’re all healthy, that’s even better,” Pritchard stated.
By Della Young