April 28, 2012

Stanley Cup Lost and Stolen

Buffalo Sabres fans gripe to this day that the Stanley Cup was stolen from them because of Brett Hull's toe-in-crease series winning goal.

While I won't get into that debate and just let that sit in Stanley Cup folklore, I think it is interesting that there have been three attempts to actually steal the Stanley Cup.

It Belongs In Montreal

The first was in the spring of 1962 as the Montreal Canadiens were playing the defending champion Blackhawks in Chicago. The Hawks had the Cup on glass-encased display in old Chicago Stadium, much to the dislike of 25 year old pianist Kenneth Kilander, a seriously devoted Habs fan who made the trip to the Windy City.

During the game Kilander picked the lock and simply headed out the doors, bribing a security guard with $250 and reportedly telling him "I'm taking it back to Montreal where it belongs." Kilander, on a dare from Montreal sportswriters, was taking the Cup back to his hotel and intended to let sportswriters and photographers break the story as part of an elaborate April Fool's Day joke.

Kilander was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct. After paying a $10 fine, he was released from jail.

Stolen For Real

The entire Stanley Cup, along with other trophies, was stolen from the Hockey Hall of Fame on two occasions.

In April, 1969 thieves got the Cup, the Hart Trophy and the Calder Trophy were all stolen, only to be recovered by police after a tip led them to a seedy home in Etobicoke.

In December, 1970 thieves struck again, this time taking the Cup, the Bill Masterton Trophy and the Conn Smythe Trophy without setting off any of the security alarms. An anonymous woman tried to bargain for the Cup's safe return on six occasions, once threatening to throw the Cup in Lake Ontario unless all charges were dropped. On December 23rd a police officer found the trophies abandoned in his driveway, as the thieves returned the Stanley Cup.

Ironically, Hall of Fame curator Lefty Reid left his alarm keys home when they returned the trophies. The only way they could get them back into the Hall of Fame was to purposely set off the alarms.

Silver Collar Crime

A much more serious theft occurred in January, 1970. The original silver collar of the Cup was stolen from the original Hockey Hall of Fame. The Hall's curator, Lefty Reid, alerted authorities and shortly thereafter was contacted by an anonymous woman who promised the collar's safe return in exchange for no charges being dropped. The RCMP refused such negotiations, and the collar remained missing.

The collar was finally recovered almost 8 years later. On September 18, 1977 the police received an anonymous phone call that the missing silverware was in a brown parcel in the basement of a drycleaner's on Woodbine Avenue.

University Students Tried Heist

A few months prior to that, on March 9, 1977, 7 students from the University of Montreal planned an elaborate heist of the Cup right from its display place in the Hockey Hall of Fame on the old CNE grounds. The students were on a scavenger hunt for "the best find possible." The Stanley Cup certainly could have won that contest. After detailed interrogations, the students were released without any charges.

Where Is That Guy?

Following the Stanley Cup parade in 1979, Guy Lafleur, of all people, stole the Cup and hid in the trunk of his car. Some 14 years before the practice of each player taking the Cup home became commonplace, Lafleur headed up to Thurso so he could show the Cup to his family and old friends. Not knowing where the Cup was had Cup trustees and caretakers in a frantic search. They were all relieved when they found out Lafleur had it.

Kicked To The Curb

The Stanley Cup was also lost, but no one picked it up. In 1924, Montreal Canadiens players were on their way to a victory party at owner Leo Dandurand's house. The players had set the Cup on the sidewalk snowbank while they changed a flat tire. When arrived at Dandurand's house, they realized they had left the Cup on the sidewalk. They hurriedly drove back, and were relieved to see the silver bowl sitting right where they left it, completely untouched.

Used As A Flower Pot

Two other times the Cup was lost.

In 1907, the Montreal Wanderers left the Cup at the home of a photographer they hired to immortalize their victory. The photographer's mother turned it into a flower pot for the next several months.

In 1905, drunken members of the Ottawa Silver Seven thought it would a good celebratory idea to punt the Cup into the Rideau Canal. No one rescued out of the chilly waters until the next day.

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