Robert Hillier might still be considered a new dad, but he’s already got a pretty good eye for a cute baby photo.
That’s how three-month-old Chloe Hillier found herself seated inside the bowl of the Stanley Cup on Monday afternoon in the pediatrics ward at Abbotsford Regional Hospital.
The significance of spending time quality time with the most famous trophy in North American team sports seemed lost on the youngster, who was born eight weeks premature and is still a frequent guest at ARH as doctors try to fine-tune her diet to help her gain weight.
But the moment brought a broad smile to her dad’s face.
“To have the Stanley Cup right in front of you is amazing,” Robert Hillier marveled. “I just thought, ‘How cute of a picture would it be to have her up there?'”
The Stanley Cup’s stop at ARH was part of a whirlwind tour of Abbotsford, courtesy of Boston Bruins director of player personnel Scott Bradley. The longtime Abbotsford resident earned the right to to spend a day with the Cup after his Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks in a thrilling seven-game NHL final series.
“This whole thing is still kind of surreal,” Bradley said. “It’s pretty neat to share it with all my friends and family. It’s been everything I’d imagined it would be, and even more.”
Bradley’s day with the Cup began at 8 a.m., when he picked it up in Vancouver and loaded it onto his friend Dean Russell’s helicopter. From there, they flew it out to Bruins scout Dean Malkoc’s house in the Buntzen Lake area, just north of Anmore.
Then it was off to Bradley’s house in Abbotsford for a private photo shoot with his family. Next stop was the hospital, then the Baron Bar and Grill near the Abbotsford Airport, where fans could have their photo taken with the Cup in exchange for a $10 donation to Miracle Flights for Kids Canada – a charity which supplies low-income sick children with flights for medical treatment in distant locations.
To close out the day, Bradley planned to bring the Cup back to his house for a private party.
Being whisked around by helicopter certainly helped to maximize the number of activities Bradley was able to book during his limited time with the Cup.
“The helicopter was the cherry on top,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s the only way to travel. We missed all the traffic.”
Bradley said one of the highlights was taking the trophy into the radiation centre at ARH. He survived two bouts with cancer in his right knee in 2005 and 2008.
“It’s humbling to see people’s faces light up,” he said. “I know how it feels to be in there.
“I cherish every day that I’m here. When you see it can all be taken away from you, you really appreciate things like this.”
Bradley was somewhat curious how bringing the Stanley Cup into the heart of Canucks territory would be received. Bruins winger Milan Lucic, an East Vancouver native, had the Cup on Sunday, and a Vancouver Courier story suggested he scaled back his public celebration plans after running into some bitter Canucks fans at a Greek festival earlier this summer.
In Abbotsford, though, Canuck fans were simply thrilled to see hockey’s holy grail in person, no matter if it was part of a Bruin’s celebration.
“I’m just happy it came to Abbotsford,” said Justin Atha, 19, after posing for a photo at the Baron. “At least we got to see it. It’s a once in a lifetime kind of thing, and it doesn’t come around very often.”
Local Bruins fans, on the other hand, were strictly elated. Dave Ethier, a 48-year-old Abbotsford resident, rolled up the sleeve of his Bruins jersey to reveal a tattoo on his left shoulder of the spoked ‘B’ logo with the words “Big, Bad and Bruin” written below.
“This is the best,” said Ethier, who has been a Bruins fan since 1968 and admitted he took quite a bit of heat from his friends during the Boston-Vancouver series. “This is why everyone follows hockey. To be around the Stanley Cup is a cool, cool thing.”
Bradley just completed his 19th season with the Bruins’ hockey operations department. His fingerprints were all over Boston’s Cup-winning roster, as much of the team’s homegrown talent – including the likes of Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand – was drafted under his direct supervision.
Scott Bradley unloads the Stanley Cup from the helicopter at Abbotsford Regional Hospital on Monday afternoon.
An Abbotsford Police colour guard handled the Stanley Cup at ARH.
Diehard Boston fan Dave Ethier shows off his Bruins tattoo while waiting in line at the Baron Bar and Grill to see the Stanley Cup.