On Top of the World
Monday, 08.22.2011 / 9:24 AM
BostonBruins.com -- Showing some impeccable timing, at the beginning of last season, Jim "Beets" Johnson made became the assistant equipment manager for the Boston Bruins.
"It was almost surreal," said Johnson of his feelings after the B's Game 7 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. "You dream of something your whole life and as it got closer and closer and the moments were happening.
"It was really special."
Though he suspected he might get a day with the Cup, Johnson was still in disbelief when the Bruins asked him where he wanted Stanley to show up on August 21.
"It kind of hit home when he asked you where you wanted to have your day with the cup," said Johnson.
His answer: The Ketchum and Sun Valley region of Idaho.
Though he grew up in Minnesota, played four seasons of college hockey (and was an assistant coach for one season) at St. Scholastica in Duluth and resides right outside of Boise, Johnson, who spent nine seasons as the assistant equipment manager of the New York Rangers after two seasons as the head equipment manager of the Idaho Steelheads, considers the Sun Valley area his 'adopted' home.
"I spent many years there after college," Johnson said of his location choice. "So I brought it back to this valley that I was a part of for so many years."
Johnson had plenty of loved ones to join him in his special time with Stanley and they helped him put together more than a full day's worth of celebrating.
First up on Johnson's Idaho travel schedule: pictures with the Cup upon arrival, followed by a tour through local businesses to say thank you for their support.
Next he took the Cup to the Sun Valley Lodge where, as a local, Johnson had frequently played hockey at the facility's indoor and outdoor rinks.
There in the lodge, he held a viewing for friends, family and residents of the area.
Stanley was later the center piece in a photo-shoot at a private cup party that swelled to include over 100 people thanks to the small-town-everyone-knows-everyone nature of Ketchum/Sun Valley.
In the morning, Johnson and friends and family woke up bright and early to drive up to the top of Bald Mountain with the Stanley Cup. They reached the summit at 7 a.m. and were able to take pictures with hockey's Holy Grail at sunrise.
Finally, Johnson took the cup down for a small brunch at the home of his 16-year-old son Parker and Parker's mom.
Johnson said he enjoyed the excitement, smiles, congratulations and thanks he received from the community for bringing the Cup to Ketchum. He explained that Sun Valley is a community so engrossed in hockey lore that local kids aspiring for the NHL were afraid to touch the Cup -- they feared the legend that if you touch it before you earn it, you'll never win it.
However, there's no rule against looking and thanks to Johnson's packed schedule, plenty of people got a chance to share Stanley.
Asked about his favorite memory, Johnson was quick to answer.
"Having my picture taken with my son on top of the mountain was special," explained Johnson, who said at that moment he felt like he was "on top of the world."