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Pat Lafontaine

Stanley Cup Tours Lion's Dens

In conjunction with the National Hockey League’s All Star weekend in Montreal, the league donated a Lion’s Den Room to Sainte Justine’s Children’s Hospital. The patients at the hospital were overwhelmed with the resources that they had been given and the smiles on their faces told a great story. It was around that time it was suggested to Pat LaFontaine that perhaps the Stanley Cup should make a tour of all the Lion’s Den Rooms.

During the first week in March, Mike Bolt (“Keeper of the Cup”) from the Hockey Hall of Fame weathered a major snowstorm and met Pat LaFontaine in New York to begin the tour. The first stop was Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Westchester, NY. LaFontaine said, “It’s only fitting we begin at Maria Fareri, since this is the first hospital where we built a Lion’s Den.”

Andrew was a teenaged patient at the hospital. He entered the Lion’s Den and his eyes lit up as he caught his first glimpse of the Cup. He spent almost 45 minutes inspecting every detail of the Cup and especially the 1994 inclusion of his favorite team – the New York Rangers. Bolt patiently answered every question that Andrew threw at him and many more that the other patients had.

Andrew’s mother quietly approached LaFontaine and said that the youngster had surgery four days earlier and had refused to get out of bed. However, the Cup visit was enough to draw him down the hallway. She said, “His doctors told him he could not go home until he started walking. They just saw him with the Cup, and they said he could go home this afternoon… How can I ever thank you and the National Hockey League enough for this special gift?”

Similar stories were written that afternoon when former Ranger Ron Duguay joined LaFontaine and the Cup at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in New York City. They spent two hours visiting patients at their bedsides and bringing a little joy to families in need.

The following day, the Cup flew to Buffalo and a visit at Buffalo Women and Children’s Hospital. The Buffalo mascot, SabreTooth helped brings smiles to the faces of the children. LaFontaine returned to the site that helped inspire the creation of the Companions in Courage Foundation, and he renewed many old friendships with the hospital staff. He said, “I always hoped to bring the Cup to western New York, and I guess this was the next best way…”

In the afternoon he brought the Cup to Roswell Park Cancer Institute. He was joined by injured Sabres’ goaltender Ryan Miller, who also has done a lot to reach out to the patients of the hospital. He said, “It’s the least I can do to help those in need. The patients here inspire me as much as I might inspire them.”

The final leg of this tour of the Cup was completed the following day when former Montreal Canadiens great Rejean Houle, brought the silver bowl to the children at Sainte Justines. In a city celebrating 100 years of their hockey team, the Cup took on even more meaning and was a fitting place for this leg of the tour to end.

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