Hockey's Stanley Cup Travels To Afghanistan

The Stanley Cup traveled to Kandahar, Afghanistan, as part of a goodwill tour organized by the Canadian government. NHL greats mixed with troops from Canada and the U.S. on a cement hockey rink, to re-create this year's dramatic Olympic men's gold medal final.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And we have something of an update now on one of the big moments of the Olympics. You may remember scenes like this in downtown Vancouver as Canadians pulled for their national team against the U.S. in the men's hockey final.

CROWD: We want gold. We want gold. We want gold.

MONTAGNE: Those fans watched as the dramatic game went into sudden death overtime, then Canada scored to win the gold and bragging rights.

(Soundbite of cheers)

MONTAGNE: So that was the result of Team Canada versus Team USA at the Olympics. This was the result of Team Canada versus Team USA this week in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Mr. PIERRE BOURQUE (Goodwill Tour Participant): Unfortunately for your listeners, Canada won.

MONTAGNE: That's Pierre Bourque. He's part of a good will tour organized by the Canadian government to entertain its troops. That's where we reached Bourque on his cell phone. The tour engineered a hockey exhibition match that pitted against each other a handful of retired hockey greats, a current NHL general manager, and a smattering of troops from both countries.

They played street-style on a hockey rink made of cement at Kandahar Airfield.

Mr. BOURQUE: We were a little concerned because Brian Burke, the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but more recently known as the coach of Team USA at the Olympics, was gracious enough to impose his talents on the American military. But we were able to beat Brian at his best.

MONTAGNE: We, of course, being the Canadians. Hundreds of deployed troops watched Team Canada play Team U.S.A., but the real draw this week in Kandahar has been the Stanley Cup itself, hockey's famous championship trophy on its own world tour between seasons.

Mr. BOURQUE: Most of us did not know that it was coming. Yesterday though, after the Canada/U.S. game, and when we returned to the room, there was a huge box in the room. And low and behold, I am the keeper of the Stanley Cup. The cup is out now. I can see it from where and I'm at one end of the rink and it's about 100 feet away from me.

There are people taking pictures of it. There are soldiers standing next to it with their arms around it. And two fellows from Chicago came to me. They're members of the Navy. They work in the hospital here, the fuel hospital here at Kandahar, and they were like kids in a candy store. One of them was wearing a Chicago Black Hawks jersey under his military fatigues. And he said: I saw it in 1991 and I never got just that close to it. And here I am. I put my arm around it and we got pictures and it was fantastic.

MONTAGNE: Pierre Bourque at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan. You'll find some of his Twitter pictures of the Stanley Cup in a warzone on our Twitter feed at MORNING EDITION. He and the rest of the goodwill tour return to North America tonight.

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