Hockey’s holy grail in townCarey Torrice
By Chad Selweski Macomb Daily Staff Writer
Autumn Gratti awoke at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday and got dressed in her favorite Detroit Red Wings jersey with Steve Yzerman’s name emblazoned on the back. The Warren girl was ready three hours early for her chance to see the Stanley Cup won by her hockey heroes.
So, what was the 10-year-old’s reaction when she finally got to touch the towering trophy?
Awesome, she said with a smile.
The cup was on display for one hour Wednesday at the county Board of Commissioners office in downtown Mount Clemens. Advanced word of the event was kept to a minimum, but the news leaked out to various county officials and employees. The silver cup was greeted by a long line of hockey fans, including many children and grandchildren.
Some of the county commissioners were as giddy as the kids as they had their photos taken with perhaps the most famous trophy in all of sports.
Commissioner Andrey Duzyj, wearing a Wings jersey with No. 1 and Commissioner stitched on the back, said this was the second time he had seen the cup. The first time was in 1997 at the home of a Wings’ assistant coach, and on that occasion he was allowed to hold the 35-pound trophy aloft, replicating the annual tradition practiced by National Hockey League players who emerge as champions.
It’s amazing how heavy it is, said the Warren Democrat. It freaks you out how hard it is to hold it over your head.
The cup’s visit was arranged by Chris Ilitch, son of Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, and CEO of Ilitch Holdings Inc. Ilitch also serves as the chairman of the Metro Detroit Convention and Visitors Bureau, which was heavily criticized by county commissioners earlier this month.
But Ilitch said the condemnation was not the reason why the Stanley Cup made its first appearance at a government office after the Wings won the NHL championship June 4 — in Macomb County. The trophy will be displayed in the coming days in Oakland County, Wayne County and in the state Capitol.
I believe this is a championship not just for the Red Wings, it’s a championship for our entire community, Ilitch said. We ¦ want to let everyone here know just how important Macomb County is to this region.
Wednesday’s event was certainly not the cup’s first trip to Macomb County and, in fact, it was first displayed briefly in the county Administration Building after the Wings won the NHL title in 2002.
Mike Bolt, the NHL’s keeper of the cup, said the trophy is traveling to numerous companies and organizations daily. Last night, it was in Toronto. Today it’s in Montreal. On Friday, it will be in Ottawa for the 2008 NHL draft.
Over the course of the summer, each Red Wings player will have one day to spend time with the cup anywhere in the world, Bolt said.
This Stanley Cup, Ilitch added, has a tighter schedule than President Bush.”