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Lord Stanley - Hockey

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Hockey can be a difficult sport to get into. There's no doubt about that. To a new fan, sitting down to watch this fast paced game, with bodies moving as fast as the cars in the neighborhood outside their window and rules being thrown at them with no time to be explained, can be a tough task. But don't let that bother you. Once the initial barriers are broken down, there's not a single sport in the world that has as much to offer to its fans as hockey does.

It starts with the tradition. Stanley Cup: A championship hockey tournament played each year by qualifying teams from the National Hockey League. The Stanley Cup that each player dreams of growing up in their backyard rinks or the nearby ice rink has a story unlike any other major sports championship trophy. To start, it's one of the few that is used year after year, with this year's winners touching the same one as players twice their elder. Most sports stars talk about winning a ring. The championship rings to commemorate their success, the rings they receive in addition to the championship trophy.

In hockey, no one talks about rings. It's all about the Cup. Every winner's name engraved on it, decades of winners having raised it overheard, and a time honored tradition surrounding its handling. It takes more time than those victorious bearers of the trophy have with it to appreciate its history.

The stories of each players' "Day With the Cup", when everyone on the winning team is allowed time alone with their hard-earned prize to do with it what they will, lends itself to a terrific combination of endless humor and touching emotions.

That historic trophy, the oldest trophy competed for by professional athletes in North America, was donated by Frederick Arthur, Lord Stanley of Preston and son of the Earl of Derby, in 1893. Along with the long 82 game season and subsequent playoffs on the way to winning it, leads players to throw more energy and sacrifice into every minute of ice time, creating an even more grueling path to victory for every team. The blue collar style of work ethic and dedication that they bring, from throwing their bodies (and faces) into the way of 100 mph shots to leading their team to victory on a pair of broken ankles without questioning it for a minute, gives inspiration to individual fans and entire cities.

The inspiration shows when you step into an ice hockey arena. Ask anyone there and they'll tell you: this isn't just a game. It's a battle for honor and pride between two groups, oftentimes bitter rivals, with each team's city pouring every ounce of energy they have into the air with complete disregard for their lungs and vocal cords. If they can make even a shred of difference on the ice and on the scoreboard, their job is done. It truly is a sport where the "sixth man" makes a difference.

With plenty of excitement, energy, and



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