August 22, 2012 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) - Rochester Knighthawks
Sports history was made Monday at Garden River First Nation near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. For the first time ever, the Stanley Cup and the National Lacrosse League's Champion's Cup appeared together at a Championship celebration.
The two Championship trophies resided at the home of former NHL Coach of the Year and astute businessman Ted Nolan. Nolan works as an advisor for the 2012 World Champion Rochester Knighthawks, but more importantly is the father of 2012 Stanley Cup Champion Jordan Nolan.
The Stanley Cup and the Champion's Cup sat side-by-side in the backyard of the Nolan house. The Cups are ages apart, but both have their memorable stories and decisive series-clinching moments. The Stanley Cup was first presented in 1893 to the first Stanley Cup Champions, the Montreal Hockey Club (affiliated with the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association). The NLL Champion's Cup traces its roots back to the 1987 with the crowing of the Baltimore Thunder as the first champions. Yet, lacrosse dates back to the early 12th century with the Native Americans.
It was a perfect setting to have the two Championship trophies at a small, private gathering instead of at a glitzy nightclub in a larger city. It was the first time that the Cups had ever visited Garden River. In fact, earlier in the day the Stanley Cup parade was the first event of its kind in the First Nations' community.
"The day truly belonged to Jordan and the people of the Garden River community. Wendy and I were honored to be invited by Ted and Sandra to share in their family's celebration with the Stanley Cup," said Knighthawks President Lewis Staats. "I guess we can say we were also a part of history as we were able to bring the Champion's Cup to the celebrations. Being able to get our picture taken with the Stanley Cup and the Champion's Cup together in the backyard at Ted Nolan's home on the Garden River First Nation made the day all that more special as it was among family and friends. Two world championship trophies were on display in a small First Nations' community in Northern Ontario in two different sports that we as Native people hold near and dear to our hearts. Unbelievable is the only word that comes to mind."
Ted shared part of the day with members of the Knighthawks, where he serves as a business advisor and ambassador for one of the cornerstone franchises in the NLL. In 2012, Rochester defeated the Edmonton Rush to capture the NLL Championship.
Knighthawks Owner and General Manager Curt Styres, his sons Bow and Hunter, and wife, Trish; President Lewis Staats and Special Projects Coordinator Wendy Staats accompanied the Champion's Cup from Six Nations to Garden River First Nation. Assistant GM Landon Miller and his son Noah also made the trip, along with Wendy and Landon's uncle "Doc" Porter.
"It was truly amazing to be a part of. I am very thankful to be invited by Ted and Sandra. Also to be invited by Jordan, as he took the Cup to the different places around Garden River and the Soo was absolutely a once-in-a-life time experience," said Landon Miller. "Selfishly, it was such a great event to take in with my son Noah."
Ted and his wife, Sandra, planned the celebration ever since the Los Angeles Kings defeated the New Jersey Devils in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals in early June. The entire family celebrated Jordan's accomplishment, including his brother, Brandon, and his family. Brandon played professional hockey in the American Hockey League and in the National Hockey League. The scope of the celebration was so large that Ted referred to it not as a family reunion, but as a community reunion.
"People from all over came back home to be a part of this," said Nolan. "I strongly believe that sports are a great thing and have a tendency to bring communities together. It's special to see how the community really pulled together and how they supported Jordan's run to the Stanley Cup," said Ted Nolan, who is Ojibwa.
Jordan was in his first NHL season in 2012 with the Kings after getting selected seventh round (186th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. This season, he played in 26 regular season games and all 20 playoff games, even scoring a goal and adding an assist as part of the high-energy fourth line.
"It's one of the hardest trophies to win. For the rest of his career, he can always say he is a Stanley Cup champion," said Ted of his 23-year-old son. "I played pro and coached pro and didn't come close to it. To see Jordan 40 games into his NHL career win the Stanley Cup was incredible. I much prefer my son to win it before I did."