Stanley is the stage star in Slovakia, the fishing buddy in Slovenia, the parade draw in Ontario.
Stanley strikes a pose on the celebrated steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is the anchor attraction at a historic New Jersey commercial district.
Common to these and dozens of other appearances this summer is the 3-foot-high shining silver icon’s spot in the center of hockey history.
Awarded to the best pro hockey team for 121 years, the Stanley Cup is the oldest trophy competed for by professional athletes in North America. The Los Angeles Kings took the cup with the 2014 NHL title.
“It’s really neat to see how this trophy is clearly the best in sport. The tradition is just awesome,” said Dean Lombardi, Kings president and general manager, on the eve of bringing the cup to North Bay wine country.
Opening with a public viewing at a Napa hotel Saturday evening, the Stanley Cup will be on display at Redwood Empire Ice Arena, in Santa Rosa, on Sunday.
The appearance is historic. The cup — bearing team and player engravings dating back more than a century — came closest promoting San Jose Sharks appearances in the National Hockey League playoffs.
“The cup tells the story of the game. For those who are hockey fans it means a lot to everyone who’s ever been around it,” said Phil Pritchard, a Hockey Hall of Fame official and the cup’s keeper on this latest leg of the Kings’ tour.
The summer celebration with the cup is one of hockey’s great customs.
The winning team has 100 or so days with the cup, beginning this year with the Kings clinching victory over the New York Rangers in June. Players, officials, scouts — more than 50 for the Kings — with friends and families get a day with the cup.
“You try to make the most of your time with it. Having it here will be great. Kids can have their picture taken with it,” Lombardi said.
Sonoma County has been a second home for Lombardi and wife Wandamae since early in his seven-year tenure as Sharks general manager. The couple owns a horse farm outside Sonoma where they spend much of the offseason.
Now the Kings top executive, Lombardi said the family has roots in Sonoma and wants to share the cup with an area and fans that long have embraced hockey. The Bay Area has become a hotbed for youth hockey. The Redwood Empire Ice Arena is one of the region’s storied hockey venues, including as host to a senior tournament drawing teams and players from across North America.
“It’s amazing. That rink is going day and night. That place is world renowned,” Lombardi said. The Stanley Cup is scheduled for at least six stops in Sonoma and Napa counties. Large crowds are expected at the public appearances.
Everyone who shows up hopefully gains a glimpse of the famed trophy, said Pritchard, the cup keeper.
“It’s a special moment. People are thrilled to see it,” he said. “We’re going to do our best to stay as long as we can.”
The cup’s draw surprised even Lombardi when he brought the trophy to his hometown of Ludlow, Mass., two years ago following the Kings first championship.