SAN ANTONIO – For the second time in 2019, the Stanley Cup visited San Antonio.
This most recent trip allowed fans of the Rampage and Blues to see the new names engraved on the hallowed trophy in the wake of St. Louis' dramatic playoff run. Howie Borrow, one of the seven Keepers of the Cup, accompanied the Cup to the AT&T Center Saturday afternoon along with NHL legend Al MacInnis for the Rampage's game against the Chicago Wolves.
"There's a lot of hockey fans down here, and with San Antonio's relationship with the Blues, there are a lot of Blues fans down here," MacInnis said. "The Stanley Cup is such a magnet, such an incredible trophy and everybody wants to take a picture with it. Everybody wants to look at it. They want to read names of their favorite players on it. It's nice to be able to share it with the Rampage and their fans. That's what it's all about. It's always a pleasure to be around the Cup."
"The Cup does bring a certain aura about it," Borrow explained. "To be able to have it in their building and show it to the fans is great. Blues fans have been very polite. They're almost in shock, I think, but amazed and happy they won it. For them to get an opportunity to touch it, hug it, kiss the Cup and even interact with the players is fun to watch."
Three former Rampage players from the 2018-2019 season have their names etched on hockey's holy grail: Jordan Binnington, Sammy Blais and Zach Sanford. Binnington stole the show during the Blues' playoff run, setting multiple rookie goaltender records and shutting out the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. His impact, and the rest of the Rampage's impact on the Blues' season, is not lost on anyone in the Blues organization.
"It's so important to have these guys involved and have them ready to be called upon," MacInnis said. "No bigger contribution was made than Jordan Binnington's. He got a chance to play his first game in Philadelphia, got a shutout and the rest is history. There were other guys that had come up and played. That's the kind of depth you need when you're going to go a long way in the playoffs. The Rampage are a big part of our organization. This is where we develop our young players. They have a bright future down here, and they're a big part of our future."
Since Blues players hoisted it on June 12th, the Stanley Cup has traveled all over the world, visiting various hometowns and home countries.
"It's hectic, it's busy and it's tiring, but it's a lot of fun," Morrow said. "This summer with the Blues, we went to Sweden, Finland and Russia. Then we spent a lot of time in Canada with 19 Canadians on the team this year, and then we spent some time in the U.S. of course, too. I've had great experiences. We get to share it with the players, their family and friends, the communities and just fans from everywhere. It never ceases to amaze me that fans will come out of the woodwork, literally, just to see the Cup."
One current Rampage player, team captain Jordan Nolan, hosted the Cup in his hometown of St. Catherines, Canada for the third time in his career. Nolan previously won it with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014, and each opportunity to spend time with the trophy is memorable in its own right.
"This year, we just strictly had family members and a couple of close friends," Nolan said. "We only had a couple hours with it, but we brought it to a nice winery and took some family photos. It was really intimate, which is really nice. It might have been my best party yet. It's pretty special. It's one of the greatest trophies in the world."
Those memories -- of a dramatic late-season surge, a city's first NHL championship, and personal time spent in celebration with teammates, family and friends -- are forever engraved on the Stanley Cup and permanently etched in the hearts and minds of every player involved.