My official title? Curator of the Hockey Hall of Fame. But to the hockey world... I'm the Keeper of the Cup.

How did I get here? I majored in sports administration in college and during my senior year, I interned with the Ontario Hockey League, which eventually connected me with the Hockey Hall of Fame. Internships are important because you never know who you will meet, what you might learn or where the opportunity will take you.

"One of my most notable trips was to Kandahar to share the Cup with American, Canadian and British troops."

I've traveled to 24 countries with the Stanley Cup, mostly northern and never below the equator, and it's an eye opener. Each place is fascinating and every culture is special. I love the Finnish culture because 24 hours of sunlight in the summer and 24 hours of darkness in the winter makes for a unique outlook on life. I've also discovered incredible beauty in unexpected places, particularly Slovenia and Siberia. One of my most notable trips was to Kandahar to share the Cup with American, Canadian and British troops.

The travel is exciting but only because I meet new people, am exposed to new cultures, try new foods and most importantly, hear stories. People always ask me my story but I want to learn about their connection with hockey and why they are a fan. Everyone has a different story but the sport is our common bond. It's also amazing to see first time encounters with the Cup. Even though it is an inanimate object, it has a personality and every person, from fans to players, reacts differently. Every time you travel to different places and hockey is around, you can't top it.

Phil Pritchard and Mario Della-Savia with the Stanely Cup in Lake Placid, NY for ECAC hockey in March 2016
Phil Pritchard and Mario Della-Savia with the Stanely Cup in Lake Placid, NY for ECAC hockey in March 2016

"I would trade my role any day to actually win the Cup, but being at center ice is as close as you can get to the experience."

I've been with the Cup for 28 years but my favorite moment is still the Stanley Cup final every season. Walking the red carpet, presenting it to the championship team and watching the team captain hoist it over his head is an incredible moment in sport. I would trade my role any day to actually win the Cup, but being at center ice is as close as you can get to the experience. The thrill, emotion and excitement in that pinnacle moment in each hockey season is incredibly special to see.

After the initial excitement of the Stanley Cup Championship, I accompany the Cup to each team member's home. The stories along the way are powerful and emotional, particularly when a player stands graveside to share the Cup with a loved one who has passed, or drives to their first hockey coach's house, knocks on the door and says "thank you." I can't think of a way to describe it other than unbelievable. My relationship with the championship players and coaches is a working relationship but of course I get to know players and their families, especially if they are a repeat winner. Coach Scotty Bowman has won the Cup 14 times but I know it never gets old for him.

"I believe the Cup is the greatest trophy in sports because it is for everyone."

I believe the Cup is the greatest trophy in sports because it is for everyone. Hockey is the only sport in which the championship trophy is the same. No offense to other sports but they make a new trophy every year. At 123 years old, 3 feet high and 35 pounds, the Cup inevitably has a few dings and scratches (plus two theft attempts) but those are what gives it character. People always ask the story behind the imperfections although with social media, these stories have become less of a secret. Just Google Mario Lemieux's pool. The winning team celebrates and despite a few nicks here and there, the players have tremendous respect for the Cup.

"That is what the Stanley Cup is all about. Hockey and tradition."

Each season, the championship team becomes a part of something great. Their names are engraved on the Cup and it creates a bond with those who have won it before. For fans, they see their hero's name or their father's hero. That is what the Stanley Cup is all about. Hockey and tradition.

From right to left, Sir John A. MacDonald, Lord Stanley and Phil Pritchard. Photo courtesy of HHOF Archives
Phil Pritchard follows as Chicago Blackhawk, Patrick Sharp carries the Stanley Cup. Photo courtesy of HHOF Archives
Phil Pritchard with the Cup and Santa. Photo courtesy of HHOF Archives
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