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Pride’s Journey: Celebrating friends, family and the Stanley Cup

As is tradition, each member of the Stanley Cup-winning team is allowed to retain hockey’s Holy Grail for a day. For players from the 2012 NHL champion Los Angeles Kings, that meant taking the cup all over North America and as far away as Slovenia.

Stanley Cup in Slovenia: Lake BledLike Lord Stanley’s shapely trophy, the fledgling European country of Slovenia is easy to look at and deeply satisfying.  Steep and curvy, it glistens with shiny green hillsides and deep blue skies.

Hrusica, the boyhood home of  Kings center Anze Kopitar, offered a surrealist backdrop for the silver trophy as he brought it home for its first-ever visit to Slovenia. A village of modest homes with lush gardens, mom-and-pop shops and a bustling athletic field, it’s the place where Kopitar’s father, Matjev, and grandmother Fanci skated with him as a toddler on a patch of frozen grass, 8 feet by 20 feet.

When Kings captain Dustin Brown got his day with the cup back in the States,  he and his son Jake waited eagerly for it to arrive. As they stood in the driveway of  their home in Ithaca, N.Y., Jake clutched a small replica of the Cup.

Dustin Brown with Stanley Cup: It's hereWhen the cup was unboxed, the show began. There were stops at the sign welcoming visitors to Ithaca, at the picturesque Ithaca Falls, at the hockey rink where Brown honed his skills, and at Ithaca High School, where residents gathered in the rain for their chance to congratulate Brown and touch the fabled trophy.

In Canada, a crowded bus rumbled southwest on SK 10 from Yorkton, Saskatchewan. Kings center Jarret Stoll and his family surrounded the cup as it sat smack-dab in the middle of the vehicle. It was still early in the morning, and Stoll’s day with the cup was just starting.  He knew it would be a long haul until midnight, whe the cup was packed and shipped off to another small Canadian town.

Such as  Sylvan Lake, Canada.

Touring with the Stanley Cup: Grandma's houseHundreds filed in behind Colin Fraser, a Kings center, as he cradled the cup. Flanked by Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers Kevin Halwa and Marrla Boxhall, he walked 200 yards from the dock to a podium in the town square. Rock music thumped as a pulse of excitement coursed through the thickening crowd. A line of people snaked in a U-shape for nearly a block, many wearing white gloves, patiently waiting for their brush with history and an autograph.

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