Sports’ most macho trophy shows new kind of pride
From the Chicago Tribune
The Stanley Cup has been used to baptize kids, as a feed bowl for the Kentucky Derby winner and traveled to places as far flung as strip clubs and a combat zone. In yet another first, the most macho piece of hardware in sports will make its first appearance in a gay-themed event, the city’s Gay Pride Parade.
Call it a sign of the times if you want, but the back story is so sweet it can stand on its own.
Recently traded Blackhawks defenseman Brent Sopel was looking for a way to pay tribute to his friend, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke and Burke’s late son, Brendan. Not long after Chicago won the Stanley Cup last month, Sopel knew exactly how he planned to spend his day with the 35-pound, 3-foot-high polished silver trophy that arrives with its own white-gloved handler.
Brendan Burke, 21, was killed in an auto accident in Indiana on Feb. 5, three months after the Miami (Ohio) university senior and hockey team student manager made news by telling his parents and team members that he was gay. Sopel, who began his NHL career with Vancouver, struck up a lasting friendship with Brian Burke when he was the general manager there.
“Anybody who has had to bury a child has suffered a heartbreak and this was the first thing that came to mind,” Sopel said. “Everything that happened last year with Brendan coming out last year and dying three months later, it was a tragedy.”