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Best trophy will be in the house

There will be a 117-year-old guest at the Wachovia Center for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Like most guests that age, it will be encased.

There will be a 117-year-old guest at the Wachovia Center for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Like most guests that age, it will be encased.

It also will be given the white-glove treatment by its escort, and it will arrive fashionably late, immediately after the puck drops for the opening face-off, to be precise.

If you're a Flyers fan and those tidbits of information have piqued your curiosity, well, guess what? You won't want to see it anyway. If you do, it will break your heart.

We're talking about the Stanley Cup, and it will be skated around, hugged, and kissed on ice that belongs to the Flyers if the Chicago Blackhawks win.

Since the Flyers, down by three games to two in the best-of-seven Cup Finals, haven't been this close to winning it since 1987, that won't go down easily for either them or their fans. If the Flyers win, the Cup will hop a plane to Chicago for Friday's Game 7, where it knows it will come out of its trunk.

The Stanley Cup is the coolest trophy in sports because there's only one. In the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball, there's a new trophy every year for the champ. Athletes in those sports don't talk about winning the Lombardi Trophy or whatever it is they call the hardware in basketball and baseball. They talk about winning rings.

The NHL champs get their names engraved on the Cup, and each player gets to keep it for a day, sometimes a little longer. And the player can pretty much do what he wants with it. Parade with it down Main Street in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Take it shopping with you at the King of Prussia Mall. Use it to dip your chips.

After the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Cup in 1964, Bobby Baun's teammates brought it to his home. Baun couldn't get around too well because he'd broken his ankle in Game 6 of the Cup Finals against Detroit. Of course, that didn't prevent him from returning in that game to score the winning goal. It wasn't until after that game he realized the ankle was broken. You know what Baun did with the Cup? He sat his infant son in it. Let your imagination take it from there.

Anyway, the man who will escort the Cup into the Wachovia Center is Phil Pritchard, a vice president and caretaker of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, the Cup's home. Pritchard is known as the Keeper of the Cup. He wears white gloves when he handles it, which seems odd when you consider players slobber all over it and drink from it when they win it.

There's no sense trying to figure out where the Cup will be before Pritchard brings it into the arena.

"State secret," an NHL official said Monday.

The way he said it, you figured you could water-board him, and he still wouldn't talk.