The Cup and the Crown

By Wendell Hutchins


(All Bible quotes from NASB)


The Stanley Cup is awarded to the champion of the National Hockey League. The trophy was donated in 1893 by the governor-general of Canada, and is the oldest such trophy in North America.


Every kid who plays hockey dreams of winning the Cup. If you win it, you get to skate around holding it over your head; think about that in light of the superstition that if you touch the Cup before you win the Cup, you will never win it. You get a day in the off-season where you can take it anywhere and do anything you want with it. The coolest thing is THEY PUT YOUR NAME on it. I have seen big tough players win the Cup and have tears in their eyes as they lift it for the first time. I saw the opening game of the Detroit Red Wings 02-03 season where they honored the team for winning the 2002 Cup, and I saw three players now in the Hall of Fame giggling like schoolboys as they searched and found their names on the Cup.


Hockey players want to win the Cup so badly they will endure much pain. In 1983 Wayne Gretzky’s team lost in the Cup finals, and when he went over after the game to congratulate players he knew on the winning team, he noticed how they weren’t too busy celebrating; they had too many icepacks on bruises, and many were in whirlpools for various things. Gretzky himself said he learned much about being a champion by LOSING his first opportunity; his team won 4 of the next 5 Cups.


Braydon Coburn is a defenseman for the Philadelphia Flyers. He made a commercial about his injuries that you can find on Youtube. In it, he says, “Last season, I tore an artery and had to be rushed to the hospital; I came back… I’ve broken my nose a couple of times; but I came back… I have been hit in the mouth with a puck and lost four front teeth; but I came back… In the playoffs I stopped a slapshot with my left eye, and it took 55 stitches to close it up; but like I told the doctor, “If you want me to stop playing, it’s going to have to be something SERIOUS.”


I have watched game after game where such injuries occur. I saw Jaromir Jagr pick up some teeth off the ice for the trainer to save for later; he missed no playing time. I saw Ian Laperriere block a shot with his face, be helped off the ice, and come back later in the game with a face shield and block another shot by laying down in front of the shooter. I found out later he had SEVEN teeth (including two implants!) knocked out, but he came back in that very game!


In 2010 Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith saw the puck coming. He just couldn't turn his head quickly enough and it smacked him right in the mouth. He lost seven teeth, but returned minutes later to help the Blackhawks beat San Jose and qualify for the Stanley Cup finals. He said later, "I feel fine, it's just teeth. I might not sound the same, but I still feel the same.”


In games I did not see, two players have had their necks cut by skate blades and nearly died; they did not come back till they got the stitches out, but they were back as soon as a doctor would let them return.


With 10 minutes left in the sixth game of the 1964 finals between the Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings, Bobby Baun slid down onto the ice to block a Gordie Howe shot.

He was struck in an unpadded area of the leg and had to be carried away on a stretcher, and he should have seen his season to come to an end. But he didn't. Baun returned to the lineup in the very same game. The game had gone into overtime, and Baun refused to go to the hospital. Instead he was given painkillers and had his ankle taped tightly, and returned for the extra period of play.

Just a couple of minutes into the overtime, Baun picked up a failed Detroit clearing attempt at the blue line and directed a shot on the Detroit goal. It deflected off a Detroit defenseman and into the net, forcing game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals!!

There was no way Baun would miss game 7. He refused to allow doctors to examine his ankle. He suffered in severe pain but knew if doctors looked at it he would be forced to sit out of the biggest game of a professional hockey player's career. He didn't miss a shift that game as the Leafs won 4-0 and clinched the Stanley Cup.

After the game the doctor's finally x-rayed Baun's ankle. It was revealed that he had a badly broken ankle.


“So, Wendell, what’s the point?“ If an earthly thing like the Stanley Cup is so treasured, should not a home in heaven inspire us more to be faithful servants and endure whatever we must?


Revelation 21:1-5 says “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new " And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." If there is a more beautiful idea than God wiping away my tears and making it all better, I have yet to find it. Revelation 22:3-5 says “There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.”


Will I endure? Do I want heaven badly enough to endure? Do I love God and His Son Jesus? Do I love the Holy Spirit enough to submit to His leadership as found in the Scriptures He inspired men to write?


Romans 8:13-17 says “If you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”


That word suffer is key; my Lord Jesus suffered many things for my sake and my salvation; what is my attitude about suffering for Him in return? Am I willing to suffer rather than sin? Am I willing to be mocked and ignored if it serves the cause of Christ? Hebrews 12:4 “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin.” Have you? Do you choose to suffer for the cause of Christ?


Paul was ready; in Romans 8:18-25 says “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”


Will we endure? Romans 8:35-39 Paul says “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


The Stanley Cup has not always been treated with the respect it receives now. After winning the Cup in 1905, the Ottawa Silver Seven took the cup out for a night on the town. At that time it was the size of a small punchbowl. After a few beers, they thought it would be a good idea to see if they could kick the Cup across the Rideau Canal. Fortunately, the canal was frozen over, and they were able to retrieve the Cup the next morning.


In 1906 the Montreal Wanderers won the Cup and later hired a photographer to take their picture with the Cup. After the studio session, the team left, forgetting one thing: the Cup. It was then stolen, later returned to the photographer, and the photographer’s mother used it as a flower vase for some time.


The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Cup in 1991. While celebrating at Mario Lemieux’s house, Phil Bourque jumped into the pool with the trophy, which sank to the bottom and had to be fished out. A piece of the Cup broke off, and had to be held together with duct tape till a silversmith could repair it.


We must be careful that we do not become irreverent and treat our Savior and salvation casually; what a sad thing it would be to let loose our desire and dedication to Christ, thereby losing heaven! Hebrews 2:1-3 says “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard.”


Hebrews 12:25-30 “See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, "YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN." This expression, "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”


Hockey players want their names on the Stanley Cup; the faithful want their names in an infinitely more important place; Revelation 20:11-15 “I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”


I want the trophy Jesus spoke of in Rev. 2:10;  Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”


The Christian desires not a cup, but a crown. Are you eligible? Do you belong to the winning team, the body of Christ? 1 Cor. 15:56-57 “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”