Two-time Stanley Cup champion brings coveted trophy to Steamboat Springs

Mike Wooten kisses the Stanley Cup at Howelsen Ice Arena on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. Former Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Curtis McElhinney and Yampa Valley resident brought the trophy to town to celebrate his back-to-back wins in 2020 and 2021.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

In celebration of his Stanley Cup championships with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020 and 2021, former NHL goaltender Curtis McElhinney took it upon himself to share his achievements and bring the Stanley Cup to Steamboat Springs on Thursday, Oct. 27. 

Beginning the day with a public school tour, McElhinney traveled to each Steamboat school starting at Sleeping Giant School and ending at Strawberry Park Elementary. 

He followed that with a public showing at Howelsen Ice Arena where hundreds of locals gathered to see and touch North America’s oldest professional sports trophy. 

Steamboat Springs youth hockey players came to the arena to meet McElhinney and see the sport’s most coveted piece of hardware.

“It’s really cool because I’m a goalie too so it’s cool to see it,” 12-year-old hockey player Shea Shorland said. “It’s a lot of inspiration to see what hockey can do to you and what you can go through to get into the position of winning it.”

Mason Regan, a 12-year-old hockey player, was awestruck to see the Cup for the first time. Both he and Shorland did not plan on it being their last. 

“I think it’s very nice of Curtis to bring the Cup to our community in Steamboat,” Regan said. “It’s really cool how he moved here and won two Stanley Cups.”

Following the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals, the New Jersey Devils began the tradition of granting each of the players on the championship team an opportunity to spend one full day with possession of the Cup. 

Students from Mr. Simmons’s first grade class were filled with excitement as they got a chance to get close to Lord Stanley’s Cup Thursday Oct. 27, 2022. Curtis McElhinney earned the Cup twice while playing Tampa Bay Lightning. He brought the Cup to Steamboat Springs celebrating the Lightning’s 2020 and 2021 titles.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The outbreak of COVID-19 made it difficult for McElhinney to share the Cup at a large scale in Steamboat, so he waited to use his day when he could share his achievements with more people. 

McElhinney described it as a special day for him to present the championship trophy with his new town. 

“I think it is just one of those things where you see it, you understand the history of it a little bit and for me, the joy comes from seeing other people’s eyes light up when they see it for the first time,” McElhinney said. “Whether they are a hockey fan or have never watched a hockey game in their life, that’s kind of what it is all about, is just making sure you can share that with as many people as possible.”

Having bought a house in Steamboat in 2016, McElhinney moved to town full time following his retirement at the end of the 2021 season. 

After the public showings, McElhinney made plans to bring the Cup back to his house and celebrate his championships in a more intimate environment with his family.

McElhinney said his kids plan to eat dessert out of the Cup at the end of the night before saying goodbye to the trophy. 

Rey Cruz and Zach Renner smile big while getting a picture with the Stanley Cup at Howelsen Ice Arena on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. Former Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Curtis McElhinney and Yampa Valley resident brought the cup to town to celebrate his 2020 and 2021 Stanley Cup Championship victories.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

“We’re going to do a family dinner,” McElhinney said. “Just kind of have some fun at a little more of a private event like that. It’s just kind of for the kids and the family to enjoy a little bit more than doing all of the public stuff, which I enjoy, but I get to reward the people that spent time with me day-in and day-out.”

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