Having not been associated with a Stanley Cup winning team during my 39 years in the NHL, I did not know what to expect after the Kings won that treasured trophy this past June. What I found was that there is truly a mystique surrounding the oldest trophy competed for by professional athletes in North America.
When my wife, Judy, and I had the Cup for four hours on June 26, 180 people showed up at the reception. All were in awe of being in the presence of the Cup and to have the opportunity to have their photo taken. Many asked me, ‘Can I touch it?’ I said, ‘Yes, you can touch it.’ Then they would ask, ‘Can I kiss it?’ I would answer, ‘Yes, you can kiss it…we’re giving free tetanus shots in the back of the room.’ I don’t know which has more DNA on it…the Stanley Cup or the Blarney Stone in Ireland and I’ve kissed them both.
The excitement over the Kings winning the Stanley Cup went far beyond the boundaries of Southern California. Shortly after the Kings victory I heard by e-mail and telephone from friends all over the United States. I did numerous phone interviews on radio including one on a station in Australia. Someone on the station called and said, ‘We want to talk with you about the Kings winning the Stanley Cup.’
On a short trip my wife and I took this past summer to the Sonoma Valley wine country of Northern California, we stopped at Armida Winery, just outside of the small town of Healdsburg. As we exited our car, a winery worker driving a small cart, stopped, looked at me and said, ‘Did you bring the Stanley Cup with you?’ It turned out his name is Brandon Lapides, and he is the winemaker at Armida. He said he is a huge hockey fan and watched all the Kings’ playoff games. He later gave me a bottle of Armida Zinfandel and autographed the bottle with congratulations to the Kings.
Perhaps some of you heard about the charity golf tournament I attended in Glendora, California, this month. It was a fundraiser for “Sowing Seeds for Life,” a regional food bank in the East San Gabriel Valley started by Vicki Brown with just $100. Now they feed 6,000 people each month. At the dinner after the golf tournament, a live auction item was up for bid and the bidding reached $2,500. The auctioneer said we need $3,000, who will give $3,000?
I was wearing a Kings golf shirt with the Stanley Cup Champions logo on it, and a man named Don Dirian said he would give $3,000 if, ‘I can have Bob Miller’s Stanley Cup shirt.’ Since it was for a good cause, I stripped off my shirt and exchanged shirts with him. A crowd of about 150 at the dinner went wild and when I got home my wife said, ‘Where did you get that shirt?’ After I told her the story she said, ‘Are those your pants?’ I told her I would only go so far!
I hope that many of you have had your own great experience with the Stanley Cup this summer since it has truly been a summer to remember for all Kings’ fans. One more note, and I have mentioned this every time I have made an appearance or a speech in front of a group this summer, and that is I am so proud of all you Kings’ fans who showed the World that fans can celebrate a championship without vandalism or other destructive acts. All of you fans deserve congratulations.