Grand Ledge native son Matt Greene is a defenseman on the NHL champion Los Angeles Kings. It’s become a tradition that each player on the winning team gets to do whatever they want with the Stanley Cup for a day. Friday, Greene is bringing one of the world’s most coveted sports trophies to his hometown.
Events with the cup in Grand Ledge Friday include a parade from the fire station to the high school at noon. Greene will sign autographs, and you can take a picture with the Stanley Cup, at the football field from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Later, Greene will receive a key to the city from mayor Kalmin Smith, and word is the Cup will make a number of appearances at Grand Ledge businesses throughout the day before being whisked away at midnight.
Greene tells WKAR’s Scott Pohl that before clinching the title, he had kept the tradition of never touching the Stanley Cup until having earned the right to lift it over his head as champion.
MATT GREENE: No, I never had, and it’s a tradition that’s pretty fun. If you play enough competitive hockey, I think at some point you’ll be at a tournament when it’s around and you can take your picture with it or you can get close to it, but you never want to touch it if you think that you’re going to have a chance to win it later on down the road.
SCOTT POHL: You hold it over your head, you kiss it, you pose for photos with it; it’s got to be the culmination of every hockey player’s dream.
GREENE: Yeah, it is. Everybody knows the mystique about it, and the allure, and now you’re part of a group that can actually do that, you’re part of the team that won the Cup. You can finally touch it, you can finally lift it, you can hoist it, you can kiss it, you can do pretty much anything you want with it in the realm of the legal sense, and it’s a pretty special feeling you finally get the chance to do that.
POHL: It’s funny you should say you can do pretty much whatever you want with it, because there are dozens of stories of odd things that have been done with the Cup; weird places it has wound up, the bottom of swimming pools, that sort of thing. Do you have any sort of celebration planned for the day that the Cup is in Grand Ledge, outside of the official events?
GREENE: Just a lot of time at the house, I think, just making sure that everybody in my family gets a good amount of time to spend with it. It’s a pretty special feeling when you get around it. I’m just letting family and friends spend as much time with it as they want, because they’re a big part of me winning it as well. Other than that, nothing too crazy. I think we’ll probably drink some stuff out of it, but that’ll be the extent of it.
Kings came out of nowhere to win the cup
POHL: You know, the L.A. Kings didn’t have that great a season, really. I wanted to ask you about the regular season and then into the playoffs. When did it first really start to dawn on you and your teammates that you had a legitimate shot at winning the Stanley Cup?
GREENE: I think over the last 20 games of the season, we were in playoff mode. We were out of the playoffs for a lot of it. We had to keep pace with the teams in front of us and catch some other teams to get into the playoffs. When we finally got in there, we thought we’d do some damage. Then all of a sudden, we came back home after playing Vancouver, we were up 2-nothing in the series, and we though wow, we’ve got a chance to do something here.
Hoisting the cup was a childhood dream
POHL: Did you ever dream of winning the Stanley Cup when you were a kid?
GREENE: Yeah, when you’re out in your driveway shooting pucks or something, or when you’re playing, messing around with your friends, obviously you dream about it, but you don’t know if you’re ever going to get the opportunity for it to come true.
POHL: So you come back to Grand Ledge, you’ve got friends and family and I’m sure hundreds of people who you’ve never met before planning to spend some time in Grand Ledge to see the Cup, touch the Cup, get autographs, that sort of thing; what does it mean to you to be able to bring the Stanley Cup to your hometown?
GREENE: It means everything. I think Grand Ledge did a really good job of shaping me, and it’s a real big part of who I am. I love coming back here, I love the people, my friends and the people who live here. It’s a great town, and to be able to share an accomplishment like the Stanley Cup with your hometown is something that’s really special to me. I’m looking forward to Friday, it’s going to be good. It’s a little bit hectic right now, running around, but I think Friday’s going to be a great time.
POHL: It’ll be hard to part with it at the end of the day, won’t it?
GREENE: I think so, but I think that’s part of the allure, too. You’ve got to make sure you get everything you can out of those 24 hours because it’s the same rules for everybody. You’ve just got to make sure you enjoy your time with it and spend it to the best of your ability.