BIDDEFORD, Maine — For a few hours, under a bright, warm August sun, this blue-collar York County community turned into Western Pennsylvania.
Tuesday was a day hockey fans in Maine had been anticipating for weeks ever since Biddeford native and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin announced he was bringing the Stanley Cup to his hometown.
The throng certainly did not disappoint, as hundreds of fans lined up at and around the Biddeford Ice Arena, hoping for a glimpse of arguably the most famous trophy in all of professional sports.
Dumoulin, who had two goals and six assists during Pittsburgh’s march to its first Stanley Cup championship since 2009, is the first Maine-born player to have his name on the famous trophy, which dates back to 1892.
Each player, coach and other personnel on the winning team is allotted one day with the trophy over a 100-day timeframe during the offseason.
The Cup was at Colby College last week with Penguins video coach and Waterville native Andy Saucier.
Tuesday’s festivities included a parade from Biddeford High School to the arena, during which Dumoulin held aloft the Cup while riding on a firetruck.
Once the truck pulled into the arena’s parking lot shortly before noon, a huge throng of fans, many of them wearing Pittsburgh Penguins jerseys (there were some University of Maine and Boston Bruins apparel scattered among the Penguins gear), greeted Dumoulin to roars that could’ve been heard back in the Steel City.
The city of Biddeford did an outstanding job with this celebration, in spite of the fact that all fans in attendance were not able to make it inside the arena for a photograph with the Stanley Cup.
Barbecued goods such as burgers and hot dogs were featured, along with a beer garden, while a DJ kept the crowd entertained with an assortment of music.
After Dumoulin arrived with the Cup, several local dignitaries stepped to the podium to acknowledge his hard work, and Dumoulin was even presented with a key to his hometown.
It’s very, very rare that big-time professional sports trophies make appearances in Maine, but when they do, fans turn out in bunches like they did on Tuesday. In a way, it reminded me of the New England Patriots’ 2002 visit to Bangor’s Bass Park in the months following Super Bowl XXXVI. Players Lawyer Milloy, Adam Vinatieri and Bobby Hamilton accompanied the Vince Lombardi Trophy and Pats owner Robert Kraft to the Queen City that spring.
Even though the Bruins and Penguins are bitter rivals on the ice, it was great to see the people of Maine turn out to view the Cup.
While Dumoulin is the first Maine-born player to have his name etched on the Cup, former UMaine hockey standouts Dustin Penner (Anaheim in 2007, Los Angeles in 2012) and Scott Darling (Chicago in 2015) have their names on the famous trophy.
If you had a chance to see the Cup on Tuesday, you were treated to an outstanding day, whether you saw it outside the Biddeford Arena or inside.
Tuesday also may have been a bright, sunny 85-degree day, but Lord Stanley’s Cup being on display is just another reminder that fall and winter – and hockey season – are not too far away.