The Stanley Cup is visiting the Portland area, part of its summer PR tour (in these tough economic times, I guess even icons have to promote). Hockey’s great trophy, which was originally a decorative English punch bowl, was downtown today. It’s also visiting a couple of local ice arenas, and Captain Ron’s Sports Bar & Grill in Sherwood, where my hockey team used to drink. It’s going to all the storied places!
Anyhow, it was appearing today at Pioneer Square, at lunch. Time for a field trip to see the hallowed cup, which has been drop-kicked onto the Rideau Canal (1905), stolen (1907), forgotten in Montreal (1924), stolen again (1970), and sunk in a swimming pool (1993).
Despite (or maybe because of) its colorful history, it’s one of the most cherished prizes in sports. Captains of hockey teams that win conference championships have a superstition of refusing to touch the conference trophy–they don’t want to jinx their chances of lifting the Cup.
Actually, its popularity extends much farther than NHL hockey teams. For decades, the two titans of Canadian beer production, Molson’s and Labatt, engaged in epic, stalemated trench warfare for market share. Then one year Labatt hit on the idea of including miniature Stanley Cups in specially marked cases of beer. In a market where a fraction of a percentage point gain in market share is big news, they scored the equivalent of a marketing hat trick. The lesson for you marketing students is that the gift-in-the-Happy-Meal model works for beer drinkers too–but only if you give them exactly the right gift.
Back to today. I could have my picture taken with the cup if I donated to charity, but by the time I arrived, the square was full of people:
I didn’t have time to wait in line. So I walked out on that cement ledge on the left, and got a little closer:
Better, but not that great. Then I talked a nice girl, who was taking a lunch break from jury duty, into taking my picture:
Sure, you could quibble, that the Cup is small, and out of focus, and 100 ft. behind me. All true. On the other hand, I paid it some respect. Unlike the dork in the red t-shirt (below) …
… who had his picture taken–but only after he’d put his stuffed purple octopus in the top.
Well, whatever. Mission accomplished, with only a slight asterisk. Oh, and Sherwood Helping Hands? I owe you a donation.