Guardian of the Cup: Meet the man in charge of ‘protecting’ the Stanley Cup

WASHINGTON — You’ve probably seen it pop up on social media and in the news: the Stanley Cup in all kinds of locations and events. But who makes sure it stays safe?

Remember the roaming gnome in those travel commercials? The cavorting cup has been on a comparable journey — sharing a bed with Alex Ovechkin, making an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, holding beverages, cradling a baby, etc.

This summer the Stanley Cup will be traveling the globe, going to North America and Europe. But not before Ovechkin gets another go at it.

“I guess Ovechkin has a bit of pull. He’s getting it the next weekend,” Stanley Cup keeper Walt Neubrand said. The Canadian was on duty Sunday, where the cup is being displayed at the Canadian Embassy in D.C. on Canada Day.

Cup-keepers go where the cup is and make sure that nobody does anything “silly” with it. It’s up to them to make sure that every player or personnel gets to have it for a day.

“A lot of it is just common sense,” he said. “You just have to make sure it gets to the next guy; you want everybody to be able to celebrate with it.”

But Neubrand has seen a few things.

One of the things guys like to do is jump into the pool with it — something that one should not do with the cup, he said.

“It’s silver. Silver and chlorine don’t really go together,” he said. “And it’s just disrespectful.”

Neubrand said that the players are really good at taking care of it, and it’s friends and extended family that cup-keepers need to watch out for.

What is allowed etiquette for the one-of-a-kind cup, though?

“People are allowed to come up and touch it, hug it, and even kiss it, if they want … just be respectful,” Neubrand said. “We want everybody to be able to have some fun. It’s really a people’s trophy.”

Cup-keepers also get a chance to see the players bring the Stanley Cup to their hometowns and to hospitals and schools.

Neubrand said that in his experience being a keeper of the cup, it’s the personal way the players display the cup that stands out to him.

“A lot of guys just have it in their backyards or a little hall in their towns. Those are the ones that stand out to me because they’re just so personable and personal. It’s what it’s meant to be,” Neubrand said.

Part of a keeper’s job is to make sure the cup is looking its best when it makes an appearance.

They clean it, with soap and water, at the end of the day. If it gets really messy, it gets an extra cleaning in the middle of the day. But for fancy occasions, such as when the Washington Capitals won, they whip out the silver polish.

When Neubrand is not following the cup, he is a middle school teacher outside of Toronto, Canada.  He is one of three keepers of the cup, a position created in 1994 when the New York Rangers damaged the Stanley Cup while celebrating with it.



Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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