season delighted Thunder Bay, but the arrival of the Cup on Aug. 10 captivated
it. There is something about that hardware that turns everyone into a kid on a
backyard rink, including the 5,000 who showed up for a celebration downtown.
Eric had won the Cup before, of course, at Staal Gardens, but the enormity of
capturing it beyond the confines of the farm did not fully register until a few
nights after Game 7, at the NHL awards ceremony in Vancouver, when the Stanley
Cup was set up in a VIP lounge. "Other [players] were taking pictures of it
but not touching it, of course," Eric said. "But I was right in there,
grabbing it, like I won this. I can do this." The Cup didn't change
Eric--"He's still just my brother," Jared said--but it has set the
standard for the younger Staals, who are less envious than proud.
For the next two
decades or more, barring misfortune, a Staal brother will be grappling for it.
The reign could last until 2030 if Jared continues to improve. As he kicked at
some old pucks on the remains of Staal Gardens, Henry mentioned how well his
youngest son had played at an under-17 camp in the late spring. "What I saw
then was a fear of failure," Henry said. "I don't think he wants to be
known as the guy who didn't get out of Thunder Bay."