Since Stanley Cup winners only get the Cup for one day, and since it's a highly photogenic piece of hardware, the adventures of hockey's holy grail always yield interesting pictures galore.
You never know what you're going to see in these photos, since nobody really knows what Cup-winning players and officials are going to do with it until they do it. But as time passes, you can sort of predict what you're going to see. Players at parades. Players returning to their hometown rinks (i.e., above). The unique nature of each day with the Cup notwithstanding, the photos from the day tend to fall into a series of categories.
We don't know much about professional hockey players, other than that they enjoy playing hockey, we assume, but each one of these categories reveals something about the player. I fancy myself something of an amateur psychologist (a fancy my psychologist calls "dementia"), so allow me to guide you through a few of these classifications and what they tell us.
This photo features the Cup winner standing over some majestic geographical landmark near his hometown, holding the cup aloft in a moment of triumph. No doubt that geographic landmark has taunted him all through his childhood with its sublimity and awe-inspiring beauty.
For years, it's made the player feel small — it's mocked his big dreams, saying, No, son, I'm big. Your dreams are marginal and unlikely to come true because something as great as I — let alone this entire earth — is far too massive to grant you your piddling wish. Go to college.
But the conqueror is compelled to return to that spot a champion, stand up to this monstrous beauty and flaunt the Cup, as if to say, Suck on that, the earth.
Personality type: Competitive with mountains.
This player is photographed in the midst of some mundane activity, the Cup next to him in a stark and amusing contrast. It's Jonathan Toews riding the bus. It's Bill Guerin or Dustin Brown at the supermarket.
Now, it may look like a mockery of the common man to do common man activities with an uncommon item in tow, but it's not.
The Cup isn't there to say: Envy my excellence, commoners. Your bus ride sucks compared to mine. It's there to serve as a reminder to the player and the world that the Stanley Cup does not make him exempt from normality. Nothing has changed. He's still a simple man, simple enough to take the Cup on the bus because he still needs to get around and that's how simple men get around. It says: Hey commoners, Cup or no Cup, I'm just as lame as you are.
Personality type: Fearful of being too awesome.
Now, some players don't have this crisis of self. Some players think the Cup is beyond their trivial chores.
But that doesn't mean they can be satisfied simply having and holding Lady Stanley. No, as the gold standard the players' best pursuit, it's only worthy of the players' other high-ranking pursuits. Thus, rather than take it to the DMV to renew one's car insurance or onto the roof to clean the gutters, the player takes it hunting or fishing or whatever.
What does this tell us about the player? It tells us he's so into that other activity that he can't even forego it on his day with the Stanley Cup. It's a cry for help, you guys.
Personality type: Addicted to hunting or fishing or whatever.
The Cup is more than just some shiny prize. It has a body guard. Most don't feel worthy to touch it until they've won it. Grown men can't help but kiss it and take it into their arms. It's ageless and beautiful. The Cup is an heiress -- maybe even a queen, and a delicate one that has to be handled with gloves, like Curley's wife in Of Mice and Men.
Is it any wonder, then, that once men have it, some become smitten? The Cup has enchanted them, and they respond in kind. Thus, we get photos of men looking amorously at the Cup in bed, snuggling while watching the sun set, kissing it in the presence of friends and family.
Some men have the ability to switch off the romance. But the saps the Cup enchants are nature's enchantable saps. In past lives, they were knights, troubadors, storytellers. In this life, they're hookers with hearts of gold (because all hockey players hook).
Personality type: Enamoured by shiny objects. Borderline objectophile.
It's common to see players eating out of the Cup. What's the deal with that? Are they compulsive eaters, overcome by the urge to snack at unexpected times, and if the Cup is the first bowl they spot, so be it?
It's far less complicated than that. Some players can't help but let the Cup serves its most obvious function. They see a bowl on a pedestal and think, That's a bowl, and sustenance goes in bowls -- I'm on it. It's a compulsive need for everything to be in its right place, used for its proper purpose.
Thus, we get Brad Marchand eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch from it, Mike Richards eating Captain Crunch out of it, Zdeno Chara eating rice pudding out of it, Brent Sopel eating Reese's puffs out of it, and so on ad infinitum.
I mean, sure, the Cup has been slobbered on by half the earth, defecated in by children and whatnot, and sure, a drink from it tastes "like horse pee from a tin cup", according to Gump Worsely. But it's a bowl on a pedestal, dammit, and disgusting, bacteria-riddled aftertaste be damned, something must be consumed from it.
Personality type: Obsessive-compulsive eater.