CHICAGO – Over the course of its 122 years, Lord Stanley's Cup has been a few places it shouldn't have.
That won't be a problem for at least four hours Thursday, when it serves as the centerpiece of a parade featuring players and coaches from the NHL champion Chicago Blackhawks. They beat the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday to reclaim ownership of the 35-pound, 3-foot high silver trophy.
Every winning team gets a chance to pass the cup around between players and staff members over a 100-day period during the offseason. That's made it not only the most-traveled trophy in sports, but arguably the most versatile. It's been used as an ashtray and a baptismal font, left by the side of the road and at the bottom of at least two pools, and walked the runway of more than a few "exotic dancing" clubs from Edmonton to New York.
In the past, such clandestine visits were usually relayed by word of mouth and photos were hard to come by. Not anymore.
Thanks to social media, hashtags like #cuptracker and Twitter accounts like @WheresTheCup have made it easy keeping tabs on its whereabouts 24/7. One of the best sources to follow turns out to be its white-gloved handler, Phil Pritchard of the Toronto-based Hockey Hall of Fame, who frequently provides up-to-the-minute coverage at @keeperofthecup.
Yet by historical standards, or even measured against its last two visits to the Windy City, it's been a tame trip this time around. That said, here are five stops in Chicago the cup probably could have skipped:
WRIGLEY FIELD, AKA THE GRAVEYARD OF CHAMPIONS
The appearance of a real championship trophy at "The Friendly Confines" seemed like rubbing it in. The Blackhawks have won three championships in the last six seasons. The host Cubs have won zero in the last 116. Insert your own joke here; everybody else in Chicago has already taken a swing at it.
SLUGGERS WORLD CLASS SPORTS BAR
Speaking of at-bats, a few Blackhawks brought the trophy across the street to the well-known local emporium with batting cages on the second floor. All the visit proved is that while players like Brandon Saad and Bryan Bickell are world-class when it comes to deflecting slapshots from the point into enemy nets, putting bat to ball is a whole nother kind of contact.
In their defense — and presumably unlike the century's worth of Cub hitters who couldn't master the feat, either — the Hawks warmed up with several libations.
PATRICK SHARP'S APARTMENT
You just won the Stanley Cup. You want to show it off to family, friends and neighbors. What could go wrong?
"The (news-station) helicopters weren't so bad until I saw how much they really zoomed in," Sharp told ESPN.com. "Makes you wonder if you're going to be sun tanning out there or something.
"There was also a little drone," he added. "I don't know where that came from, but it was buzzing around our heads, pretty close to us."
O'HARE AIRPORT SECURITY
The Transportation Security Administration does not make exceptions. Passengers with a sense of modesty can skip the imaging technology or walk-through metal detectors at security and request a patdown from a TSA officer instead, The Stanley Cup was not given that option. For those who insist on seeing the cup in all its naked (X-ray) glory, check the timeline of @keeperofthecup from Monday.
FRONT PAGE OF THE KOREA TIMES SPORTS SECTION
If you thought parading the cup in front of all those championship-starved folks at Wrigley was a cruel joke, it wasn't the only one. An editor at Korea's oldest English-language daily, apparently a die-hard football fan, decided to award the trophy to the city's NFL franchise instead. How else to explain the headline that appeared over a photo of the grinning Blackhawks surrounding the trophy that read: "Chicago Bears clinch Stanley Cup."