My official title? Curator of the Hockey Hall of Fame. But to the hockey world… I’m the Keeper of the Cup.
How did I get here? I majored in sports administration in college and during my senior year, I interned with the Ontario Hockey League, which eventually connected me with the Hockey Hall of Fame. Internships are important because you never know who you will meet, what you might learn or where the opportunity will take you.
“one of my most notable trips was to kandahar to share the cup with american, canadian and british troops.”
I’ve traveled to 24 countries with the Stanley Cup, mostly northern and never below the equator, and it’s an eye opener. Each place is fascinating and every culture is special. I love the Finnish culture because 24 hours of sunlight in the summer and 24 hours of darkness in the winter makes for a unique outlook on life. I’ve also discovered incredible beauty in unexpected places, particularly Slovenia and Siberia. One of my most notable trips was to Kandahar to share the Cup with American, Canadian and British troops.
The travel is exciting but only because I meet new people, am exposed to new cultures, try new foods and most importantly, hear stories. People always ask me my story but I want to learn about their connection with hockey and why they are a fan. Everyone has a different story but the sport is our common bond. It’s also amazing to see first time encounters with the Cup. Even though it is an inanimate object, it has a personality and every person, from fans to players, reacts differently. Every time you travel to different places and hockey is around, you can’t top it.
“i would trade my role any day to actually win the cup, but being at center ice is as close as you can get to the experience.”
I’ve been with the Cup for 28 years but my favorite moment is still the Stanley Cup final every season. Walking the red carpet, presenting it to the championship team and watching the team captain hoist it over his head is an incredible moment in sport. I would trade my role any day to actually win the Cup, but being at center ice is as close as you can get to the experience. The thrill, emotion and excitement in that pinnacle moment in each hockey season is incredibly special to see.
After the initial excitement of the Stanley Cup Championship, I accompany the Cup to each team member’s home. The stories along the way are powerful and emotional, particularly when a player stands graveside to share the Cup with a loved one who has passed, or drives to their first hockey coach’s house, knocks on the door and says “thank you.” I can’t think of a way to describe it other than unbelievable. My relationship with the championship players and coaches is a working relationship but of course I get to know players and their families, especially if they are a repeat winner. Coach Scotty Bowman has won the Cup 14 times but I know it never gets old for him.
“i believe the cup is the greatest trophy in sports because it is for everyone.”
I believe the Cup is the greatest trophy in sports because it is for everyone. Hockey is the only sport in which the championship trophy is the same. No offense to other sports but they make a new trophy every year. At 123 years old, 3 feet high and 35 pounds, the Cup inevitably has a few dings and scratches (plus two theft attempts) but those are what gives it character. People always ask the story behind the imperfections although with social media, these stories have become less of a secret. Just Google Mario Lemieux’s pool. The winning team celebrates and despite a few nicks here and there, the players have tremendous respect for the Cup.
“that is what the stanley cup is all about. hockey and tradition.”
Each season, the championship team becomes a part of something great. Their names are engraved on the Cup and it creates a bond with those who have won it before. For fans, they see their hero’s name or their father’s hero. That is what the Stanley Cup is all about. Hockey and tradition.
Pritchard, a lifelong hockey fan and so called hockey player, travels the globe to promote the game of hockey with the Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum as well as exhibits its unique collection of hockey history. Phil has visited more than 35 countries and attended a number of key amateur and professional hockey events, including the Olympic Games and World Championships.
Since joining the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988, Phil has been instrumental in the museum’s growth, including its 1993 move to Downtown Toronto and more recently, the 2009 opening of the new home of the museum’s vast archival collections. The D.K. “Doc” Seaman Hockey Resource Centre and Archives now occupies approximately 18,000 square feet in Toronto’s Lakeshore West district. The state-of-the-art research centre further supports the Hockey Hall of Fame’s continued growth and development. The facility is also is the permanent training and practice facilities for both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Marlies Hockey clubs as well as Hockey Canada’s training facilities.
Part of his duties includes traveling with the Stanley Cup, a position he has held since his first week on the job. As “Keeper of the Cup”, Phil has also gained great notoriety for his role of walking the Stanley Cup out onto the ice to be presented to the NHL champions, a duty he has performed with white gloves since 1994. The trophy is given to each player of the championship team for a day which means Pritchard travels more than 150 days a year. He was also part of the “priceless” Mastercard television ads and more recently the Discover “Peggy” commercials as well as the Honda Fit commercials, he has also been in several different television shows and specials promoting the Stanley Cup.
In addition to his responsibilities with the Hockey Hall of Fame, Phil has served for many years on the Board of Directors for International Sports Heritage Association (ISHA) as well as the Canadian Association of Sport Heritage (C.A.S.H). He is also a past member of the Selection Committee for the Sports Hall of Fame in his hometown of Burlington as well as a committee member for the Lester Patrick Award (which selects outstanding contributions to hockey in the United States) and sits on the International Ice Hockey Federations “Historical Committee”.
In 2006, he was inducted into the Sheridan College Hall of Fame and in 2009, he received the Schroeder Award from the International Sports Heritage Association (ISHA). It is the ISHA’s highest honor.
The Burlington native spends his free time with Diane, his wife and their family of five exploring the great outdoors and being a taxi drive for his kids as well he is part of the group that teaches a hockey on-line course at Seneca College in Toronto.
Biography courtesy of HHOF archives