It was a clear and warm Saturday morning. The windmills of Madison had stopped. More than 1,000 fans and onlookers were waiting in front of the Colgate Inn for Andy McDonald and the Stanley Cup to come out. They were told it would happen sometime after 9 a.m., so they waited.
Traditionally, when a team wins the Stanley Cup, the highest yearly achievement in the National Hockey League, each player on that team gets to do whatever he wants with it for a 24-hour span. As tradition goes, only champs are allowed to touch the Cup. If you touch it and you are not a champ, you will never be a champ.
McDonald is a member of the champion Anaheim Ducks. He played a major part in the finals during his team's climb to the top. He scored two goals in about a minute as the Ducks beat Ottawa 3-2 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals. He also played for Colgate for four years.
"Catch him when he walks out," said Ben Eberhardt, owner of the Colgate Inn. "He'll be holding it above his head."
Finally McDonald exited the inn and the crowd reacted with a rousing ovation. The 29-year-old hockey star was visibly moved. He waved the Cup above his head, holding it in both hands as flashbulbs went off around him. Before he was able to get to the microphone, a few dignitaries made some brief statements.
"Andy was special but not unique," said Sue McVaugh, Hamilton Mayor. "You skated with our youth hockey kids, you read to the kids in the library and you tutored."
McVaugh went on to tell a story about a time when some parents rented a skating rink and McDonald arrived in a bright red pair of plaid lounge pants to get in a workout. She said she could never forget those pants.