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Hockey's Holy Grail makes stop at Panhandle business

October 28, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - It can't wield a stick, wear skates or score a goal, but the Stanley Cup is seeing more action in the United States nowadays than many hockey players.

Mired in a lockout, more than 230 National Hockey League players are playing in overseas leagues, but the instantly recognizable silver cup continues to travel around the United States. On Wednesday, it was in Martinsburg at the Guardian Fiberglass plant, which is owned by Bill Davidson. Davidson also owns the Tampa Bay Lightning, the most recent team to win the cup.

Employees at Guardian Fiberglass could have their picture taken with the cup and some also snapped photos with their own cameras.

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"It's the only time you'll ever get to see it unless they (Tampa Bay) win again and I'm still working here," said Guardian employee Ben Sebastian.

Mike Bolt, a Hockey Hall of Fame employee who gave his official title as Keeper of the Cup, travels to around 70 percent of the sites to which the cup is taken. Among other places, the cup has been to Japan, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Belarus and the Czech Republic, Bolt said.

Players on the NHL championship team have taken it to hometown parades, on golfing trips and on fishing expeditions, where it has been used to hold bait.

One player took it to a movie theater and his children ate popcorn from the bowl. It's ridden on a Harley-Davidson, been to the White House and been backstage during a Bruce Springsteen concert, Bolt said.

Inebriation may be its most celebrated - or notorious, depending on one's point of view - association.

"Of course it always shows up at a party," said Bolt. "It holds 14 beers."

Guardian employees were well aware of the connection.

"I wanted to drink beer out of it," said employee Andrew Pellerito.

"It'd be a lot more impressive if it had a tap on the bottom," echoed Sebastian.

Bolt said he is convinced the cup will one day be hoisted again above players' heads in celebration.

"It's amazing the feeling and the happiness and the joy the Stanley Cup brings to people," he said. "It still reminds people there is going to be hockey eventually."

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