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Blackhawks Owner, Rocky Wirtz, Let Me Kiss the Stanley Cup

Two years ago for the magazine, I wrote a profile of Rocky Wirtz, the owner of the Chicago Blackhawks, so I was among the thousands, perhaps millions of fans who watched with rapture and jubilation as the team claimed its first NHL victory in 49 years. So what do you think I said when the team’s office called last week to see if I’d be interested, at Rocky’s invitation, in some one-on-one time with the great silver grail?…

Chicago magazine writer Bryan Smith and Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz pose with Stanley Cup
Staff writer Bryan Smith poses with Wirtz and the Chicago Blackhawks’ possibly germ-laden victory grail.

 

But Howie, the Cup handler, warned me not to hoist it.

SPORTS Two years ago for the magazine, I wrote a profile of Rocky Wirtz, the owner of the Chicago Blackhawks, so I was among the thousands, perhaps millions of fans who watched with rapture and jubilation as the team claimed its first NHL victory in 49 years. So what do you think I said when the team’s office called last week to see if I’d be interested, at Rocky’s invitation, in some one-on-one time with the great silver grail?

Aw hell yeah. A Facebook photo for the ages, I thought.

This past Friday was the day: I went to the Blackhawks’ downtown offices at 680 North Lakeshore Drive; the Stanley Cup had arrived that morning, and the staff would have a couple of hours to ooh and ahh before the Cup went to parts unknown with the players, who are each granted possession for a day to do with it what they wish.

Bryan Smith kisses the Stanley Cup

There was little doubt that I was going to kiss it. That’s what you do when you’re lucky enough to get an audience with the Stanley Cup, right? And yet . . . when the moment came to pucker, I hesitated. I had heard stories: That several people who drank beer out of the Cup—courtesy of players who carted it along on a post-victory bar crawl—got sick. Hmm.

You’re not allowed to thrust it over your head, a la Jonathan Toews on the front page of the Chicago Tribune—there are strict hoisting rules when it comes to the Cup. I know this because one of those buzz-cut white-gloved security guys assigned to guard the trophy (a very nice gentleman named Howie) must have seen the glint in my eye as I approached. “Unless you own a team or are a player, you can’t lift it over your head,” he said. You can, however, touch it, love on it and, yes, kiss it.

The Cup rose polished and gleaming from a small table draped with a black-and-silver cloth festooned with NHL crests. Under the watchful eyes of Howie and the other white-gloved escort, I felt like Indiana Jones as I ventured a touch. Growing more bold, I draped my arm around it. And then, I did it. Gave it a peck. I couldn’t resist. I carried around a slightly metallic taste in my mouth for the rest of the day (which I tried to rinse out several times).

That afternoon—I’m not making this up—my throat began to feel sore. By nightfall, I was sniffling. A mild head cold had suddenly appeared.

I have since learned that the Cup is washed every day with soft detergent and taken apart and cleaned each year. I have also learned that thousands of people kiss the thing, presumably with no ill effects. Today, three days later, the sore throat is finally subsiding. Then I looked again at the pictures taken of me. And I realized: It was worth every sneeze.

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