The National Hockey League brought one of its most iconic trophies to the center of campus Tuesday to promote All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.
Students had a chance to take selfies and pose with the Stanley Cup in front of Tommy Trojan, while NHL staff handed out free tickets for the NHL Fan Fair on Thursday. USC Residential Education hosted the event and encouraged students to attend to earn points for the Residential College Cup.
Bill Miller, vice president of NHL events, said it’s important to include college students who may not be able to afford All-Star tickets in the NHL experience.
“At the very least it brings a little joy to them,” Miller said. “They get to see the cup.”
On Tuesday, Hockey fans posed in front of the cup sporting gear that represented their hometown NHL teams. One family posed with their baby, while others used this opportunity to check an item off on their bucket list.
“They can touch it, give it a kiss – even though thousands of people have kissed [it], people still do it,” said Brendon Lamphear, the NHL’s All-Star location supervisor. “We like giving them a little show, and what better spot than Tommy Trojan.”
This weekend’s All-Star game is in its 62nd year, though colleges only became involved in 2014. In previous years, the cup was displayed at The Ohio State University and Vanderbilt University. Mike Bolt, one of the cup’s handlers who spends 330 days out of the year with it, said it is one of the most unique trophies in sports.
“This doesn’t hide behind glass — it’s always open to the public doing events, and every day it’s taking pictures with our great fans,” Bolt said.
Hockey fans were especially ecstatic to get photos with the trophy they hoped their teams would win one day. Anant Jain, a freshman majoring in computer science, said he hopes that the San Jose Sharks will win the Stanley Cup for the first time ever after they lost in the finals last year.
“I heard this was here and I’m a big ice hockey fan, so I definitely wanted to come over here and get a picture with the Stanley Cup,” Jain said. “It doesn’t mean much for me right now because I’m a fan of the San Jose Sharks and we haven’t won the Stanley cup yet, but we can dream.”
Los Angeles has a hockey team, the Kings, but All-Star Weekend will bring even more support for the sport on the West Coast and throughout the country.
“I know the Kings have won the Stanley Cup and everyone’s excited during those years, but for it to be here on a different year and have NHL Weekend here or All-Star Weekend … it’s a big deal,” said Isha Rahman, a senior majoring in human biology.
Hockey may not be as popular on campus as sports like football and basketball, but Lamphear is excited to bring the Stanley Cup to long-time fans.
“We’re kind of that fourth sport but hockey fans themselves are truly dedicated, and so what we like doing is bringing the oldest trophy and most respected trophy out there to people,” Lamphear said.
Bolt said that the NHL tries to bring out the hockey fans in every university that they visit.
“There’s hockey fans in every university campus and this is the greatest trophy in sports, whether you are a hockey fan or not,” Bolt said.