North Van hockey star wins coveted trophy
By the time players hoist the Calder Cup, the storied championship trophy of the American Hockey League, they’re usually emotionally drained, bruised and bearded.
But the journey isn’t over. Next, each player gets to return to their hometown with the coveted silver trophy in the offseason — which can also be a grind, but in a fun way.
Just ask North Vancouver’s Trevor Smith of the Calder-winning Norfolk Admirals, who had the Cup for 48 hours last week.
“My forearms are dying from carry it around,” says Smith, smiling.
A teammate told him the 24-inch trophy weighs more than its NHL counterpart, the Stanley Cup. Whatever it weighs in at, it’s an impressive-looking trophy.
And if you look closely at some of the past AHL champs engraved on the sterling sliver trophy you will see players like Manny Malhotra of the Canucks, Patrick Roy, the ex-Hab, and former L.A. Kings coach Barry Melrose, to name a few.
Dressed in a Blue Jays cap, grey shirt, shorts and flip-flops, sipping a bottle of water at Delany’s in Edgemont Village, Smith still has a grin on his face about last week’s Cup revelry.
He got the trophy on Thursday when he met up with teammate Brandon Segal of Surrey at a gas station near Metrotown Mall to exchange the Cup — a halfway meeting spot between the two players’ homes.
Immediately, Smith shucked open the protective travel case and put the trophy in the front seat of his pickup truck and fastened its seatbelt. When he arrived at his apartment near Yaletown he took a photo of the Cup on his porch and tweeted it to his 1,000-plus followers. Then with the Cup and his wife Meghan in his truck it was off to his parents home in North Vancouver. From there, the entire Smith clan — mom, dad, brother and sister, plus his aunt, uncle and some cousins — took the Cup to the top of Grouse Mountain, where Trevor grew up skiing and snowboarding. After some sunset photo-ops they dined at the Altitude Bistro. “[The Cup was] on a chair sitting with us,” recalls Smith, 27.
Friday morning, along with Meghan and his brother Derek, he took the Cup to Stanley Park and then Third Beach where it had a dip in the Pacific Ocean. The trophy, he explains, had already been in the Atlantic Ocean when the team celebrated at Virginia Beach after winning the title in June, so he thought it should also enjoy the waters of the West Coast. Then it was back to his parents home for a barbecue pool party with 40 friends and family with the Cup regally perched like a wedding cake in the backyard atop a clothed table in front of a purple hydrangea bush — but it didn’t stay there all night. “I think it might have made it for a dip in the pool,” he confesses.
The next day, Smith brought it to Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club where it was presented to coach Jon Cooper. After golf and dinner at the club, the Cup was spirited away downtown where it made some rounds in the local bars. “It was amazing, awesome to have the Cup around,” says Smith. “We really got to show it around.”
And, as is the case with its slightly older counterpart, the NHL’s Stanley Cup, the Calder Cup bowl has been filled up with a lot of different things.
“Oh yeah, everything — babies, beers and champagne,” says Smith.
For Smith, winning the Calder is without question a career highlight.
“For sure this was a big one,” says Smith, who played 18 games and scored five goals and 11 assists in the 15-game playoff run.
But the Calder Cup wasn’t the only highlight for him this year. After winning the puck championship on June 9 in Toronto with his family in attendance, he then flew to the Dominican Republic on June 20 to get married to his longtime girlfriend Meghan, whom he met while they both attended the University of New Hampshire. Then, on July 1, he was signed by the Pittsburgh Penguins to a contract that will pay him $525,000 if he plays in the NHL.
Last season Smith got a taste of the NHL after being called up by the Tampa Bay Lightning. In 16 games he scored five points and got to play with star sniper Martin St. Louis and Ryan Malone and even a few shifts with league scoring champ Steven Stamkos. In Tampa, the difference in lifestyle between playing in the AHL and NHL was quickly evident. From the first-class hotels and flights to the pre-game meals. “The spread is unbelievable,” says Smith, who was so impressed he snapped some pics of the food with his iPhone.
An offensive, playmaking centre, Smith is training hard this summer so he can hopefully turn some heads at the Penguins training camp which is slated to start in September.
“I’m really excited,” he says. “I still want to play in the NHL.”