Sports history was made Monday at Garden River First Nation near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. For the first time ever, the Stanley Cup and the National Lacrosse League’s Champion’s Cup appeared together at a Championship celebration.
The two Championship trophies resided at the home of former NHL Coach of the Year and entrepreneur Ted Nolan. Nolan works as an advisor for the 2012 World Champion Rochester Knighthawks, but more importantly is the father of 2012 Stanley Cup Champion Jordan Nolan.
Ted and his wife, Sandra, have been planning the celebration ever since the Los Angeles Kings defeated the New Jersey Devils in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals in early June. It will be a historic occasion for the family and First Nation as Ted believes that it was the first time anyone who won the Cup brought it to a First Nations’ community after a win.
But the celebration had a different feeling than the night Ted’s youngest son won the Cup. That evening, he was a proud father, but Monday he and his son were able to share their accomplishments with thousands of people, including the youth and elders of the community.
“It’s another type of excitement because we get to share it with the place where we grew up. I was born and raised on the Reservation here in First Nation Garden River, my parents were from here, and Jordan and Brandon were born here. It’s really nice to bring the Cup back home to Garden River and just celebrate with our people here,” said Ted Nolan, who is Ojibwa.
Jordan was in his first NHL season in 2012 with the Kings after being selected seventh round (186th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. This season, he played in 26 regular season games and all 20 playoff games, even scoring a goal and adding an assist as part of the high-energy fourth line. Ted, a veteran of four NHL coaching seasons and a former seven-year pro player, was there with his wife as Jordan raised the Cup at center ice of the Staples Center on June 11th. He was a proud hockey parent that night, and was still beaming this weekend when he was interviewed.
“It’s one of the hardest trophies to win. For the rest of his career, he can always say he is a Stanley Cup champion,” said Ted of his 23-year-old son. “I played pro and coached pro and didn’t come close to it. To see Jordan 40 games into his NHL career win the Stanley Cup was incredible. I much prefer my son to win it before I did.”
The entire family celebrated Jordan’s accomplishment, including his brother, Brandon, and his family. Brandon played professional hockey in the American Hockey League and in the National Hockey League. The scope of the celebration was so large that Ted referred to it not as a family reunion, but as a community reunion.
“People from all over came back home to be a part of this,” said Nolan. “I strongly believe that sports are a great thing and have a tendency to bring communities together. It’s special to see how the community really pulled together and how they supported Jordan’s run to the Stanley Cup.”
Ted also shared part of the day with members of the Rochester Knighthawks, where he serves as a business advisor and ambassador for one of the cornerstone franchises in the NLL. In 2012, Rochester defeated the Edmonton Rush to capture the NLL Championship.
Accompanying the Champion’s Cup from Six Nations to Garden River First Nation were Knighthawks Owner and General Manager Curt Styres, his sons Bow and Hunter, and his wife, Trish. Knighthawks President Lewis Staats and his wife, Special Projects Coordinator Wendy Staats were also in attendance, along with Assistant GM Landon Miller and his son Noah. Mrs. Staats’ and Mr. Miller’s uncle “Doc” Porter was there as well.
“The day truly belonged to Jordan and the people of the Garden River community. Wendy and I were honored to be invited by Ted and Sandra to share in their family’s celebration with the Stanley Cup,” said Staats. “I guess we can say we were also a part of history as we were able to bring the Champion’s Cup to the celebration. Being able to get our picture taken with the Stanley Cup and the Champion’s Cup together in the backyard at Ted Nolan’s home on the Garden River First Nation made the day all that more special as it was among family and friends. Two world championship trophies were on display in a small First Nations’ community in Northern Ontario in two different sports that we as Native people hold near and dear to our hearts. Unbelievable is the only word that comes to mind.”