The NHL's First Official Woman 'Cup Keeper' Talks Journey to Her Job at the Hockey Hall of Fame (Exclusive)

Miragh Bitove began working at the Hockey Hall of Fame as an intern before working her way up to handling the Stanley Cup

<p>Nirva Milord</p> Miragh Bitove

Nirva Milord

Miragh Bitove

Miragh Bitove has history with the game of hockey.

The Toronto native, who first began working at the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003 as an intern, remembers her childhood as that of a “rink rat,” who rarely spent a day away from her local ice arena. Whether she was watching her brothers play, or passing a puck herself, Bitove’s whole life seemed to revolve around the sport of hockey – a game her father absorbs like water as a fan, and one that employed his uncle before him as a player for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

But now Bitove is adding her own history to the game.

Last summer, the longtime Hockey Hall of Fame archivist and mother of three became the first woman to officially be named a “Cup Keeper” during the trophy’s summer Champions Tour, when players and coaches from the winning team each get a day with the Stanley Cup.

“Honestly, I don't think that part has necessarily settled in yet,” Bitove tells PEOPLE during a recent interview from her office at the Hockey Hall of Fame, surrounded by gloves, sticks, and other gear she’s actively archiving in the game’s history. “Most days when I'm in the office, I'm writing the history of hockey or I'm researching the history. So, it doesn't quite compute that my name might be in that mix too.”

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Miragh Bitove
Miragh Bitove

Bitove took an interest in archiving when she was a teenager and got a college degree in Art History and Museum Management. For a while after, she struggled to find a solid job until her father suggested she mix her lifelong love of sports with her studies. So, Bitove walked into the Hockey Hall of Fame and asked whether they needed an intern. She began working unpaid at first and even stayed on longer than the job asked of her, keeping a foot in the door before breaking it down.

“My internship ended, and I just kept showing up,” Bitove laughs. “They threw me a lunch for my last day of the internship, and I said, ‘That's lovely, thank you so much, but I'll be here on Monday.’ And I just kept showing up until they could start throwing little bits of money at me for working events.”

In 2005, she finally landed a full-time position with the Hockey Hall of Fame and over the years began taking on more roles in addition to working in the archivist office, including working events where she and other trusted employees would transport trophies, including the Stanely Cup, for public viewings.

“Just seeing people's reactions to the Stanley Cup…honestly, it never gets old,” Bitove says.

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<p>MiraghBitcove</p> Miragh Bitove with Vegas Golden Knights defensemen Alec Martinez and Zach Whitecloud

Bitove remembers the first time she saw the Cup in person, when she was 13 years old and took her cousin to the Hockey Hall of Fame so they could share in a moment of their own family’s history together. Bitove’s grandfather’s younger brother, Teeder Kennedy, was an NHL player who won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs and had his name etched into the side of the trophy along with every other player who has ever been on a championship team.

Bitove and her cousin walked up to the Cup, the centerpiece of the Hall of Fame, and sifted through the names to find their great uncle Teeder’s.

“It's just…it’s breathtaking when you walk into the room and see it,” Bitove says about the historic trophy, often regarded as the best in sports. “I remember that feeling very well.”

Nowadays, as an official “Cup Keeper,” Bitove gets to see the reaction often when players travel with the Cup to visit family, friends, and take it to see crowds of people in their hometown.

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Bitove’s official title as a “Cup Keeper” (or “Cup Handler” as they sometimes also refer to the role) — a position under the head “Keeper of the Cup,” Hockey Hall of Fame Vice President Phil Pritchard — began last season on tour with the champion Vegas Golden Knights.

The Cup travels 300 days a year, including roughly 100 days over the offseason when the winning franchise gets to travel with the trophy. Every offseason is flooded with videos on social media showing players and coaches taking the Stanley Cup around the world — back to their often international hometowns for public celebrations, or to their family’s houses for private parties.

“I just love thinking of the story behind those people, of how they got there and how this must be their dream come true in these minutes,” Bitove says, thinking back at times to how her great uncle must have felt when he lifted the Stanley Cup for the first time. “And now getting to see those moments live this summer of people's first time with the Cup with their family or at their home arena where it all started for them. It’s incredible to see.”

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