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Nevada senators bring Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup to Congress

‘Have you seen our Stanley Cup?’ Sen. Cortez Masto asks

Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto speaks with “Keeper of the Cup” Phil Pritchard during the Stanley Cup’s visit to the Capitol on Wednesday.
Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto speaks with “Keeper of the Cup” Phil Pritchard during the Stanley Cup’s visit to the Capitol on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Capitol is no stranger to distinguished foreign visitors, hosting presidents, prime ministers, kings and princesses. But few have generated the same giddy excitement as Wednesday’s honored guest: Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto hosted the NHL trophy in a room just off the Senate floor in honor of the Vegas Golden Knights championship last year. It provided Cortez Masto and her fellow Democratic Nevadan, Sen. Jacky Rosen, a chance to gloat about the Silver State’s golden skaters and pose for photos in front of the most beloved trophy in professional sports.

“I’m just hoping that it travels between the Capitol and Las Vegas year after year after year,” said Rosen.

While the Cup attracted hundreds of staffers during a morning viewing session, some of whom posed for photos while hugging and kissing the trophy, the members-only session drew much less of a crowd. When Sen. Tammy Duckworth went by on her way back from a vote, Cortez Masto tried to cajole the Illinoisan into checking it out.

“Hey, Tammy, have you seen our Stanley Cup?” Cortez Masto yelled into the hallway.

“No, I’m running late,” Duckworth replied as she entered a nearby elevator.

The keeper of the Cup, Philip Pritchard of the Hockey Hall of Fame, was on hand to mind the trophy and field questions from curious fans. Each player on a Stanley Cup winning team famously gets to spend a day with the trophy, which means it’s the centerpiece of countless parties year after year. Pritchard joked with Rosen that he had been to every bar in Vegas this past offseason.  

“If you happen to be at a Stanley Cup party and someone offers you a drink [from it], I would say take it because you might not get that opportunity again,” said Pritchard.

But the Nevada senators — not to be confused with the Ottawa Senators — declined. “How much does it weigh?” Rosen asked, and Pritchard provided the answer. “37 pounds? No, not unless there’s a really big straw.”

Cortez Masto also passed on the honor, but “believe it or not, I’ve had friends who’ve sent me pictures drinking out of it,” she said.  

This wasn’t the well-traveled trophy’s first visit to the Capitol. It made a much shorter trip after the Washington Capitals won the league championship in 2018. 

That the Golden Knights got to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup last year hardly seems fair to many non-Nevadan hockey fans. It’s ironic that a sport born on frozen lakes was won by a team based in a desert that gets above 50 degrees even in the depths of winter. And for some long-suffering fan bases — the last Canadian team to win the Cup was the Montreal Canadiens in 1993, and the Philadelphia Flyers haven’t won since the Broad Street Bullies days in the ’70s — it’s even more bitter to see a 6-year-old team find near-instant success on the ice.   

No native Nevadan had played in the NHL before Gage Quinney did in 2020. Meanwhile, the Land of 10,000 (frequently frozen) Lakes has produced player after player, but neither the Minnesota Wild nor the North Stars before them ever won a Cup. 

When asked if any of her colleagues from more traditional hockey states have griped about the incongruity of Sin City winning the Cup before them, Cortez Masto said no. “They’re too afraid to,” she said.

Even though Las Vegans do not want for other entertainment options, the city immediately embraced the team, which hosted its first home game just days after the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting. The Golden Knights won that game, and went on to make the playoffs and win their division.

Pritchard grew up a Montreal Canadiens fan, “but now I just hang out with the winners,” he said. He was happy to see the Golden Knights win it last year. “People in Vegas have embraced it like no other.” 

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