My Stanley Cup Story: Jake Muzzin
*This is the third feature of a special multi-part LAKings.com content series featuring various members of the Kings organization as the Stanley Cup makes its way around the world throughout the summer.*
On Sunday, July 27, LA Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin had a special visitor to his hometown of Woodstock, Ontario.
At 8 A.M. the Stanley Cup arrived at his parents’ home, the same house they’ve lived in for 25 years, where Muzzin grew up. There to greet the trophy were close family members, Muzzin’s trainer and agent, as well as neighbors, many of whom had lived in the area some 10 years ago when Muzzin first left to pursue hockey.
Breakfast was had and photos were taken at mom and dad’s place before heading over to the residence Muzzin currently shares with his girlfriend, Courtney. Some of Courtney’s family and friends came over to enjoy the Cup and take photos, after which Muzzin moved the party once more to the home of his maternal grandparents.
Mom’s side of the family, which included members who had traversed some great distances, was waiting for their honored guests, and they were all able to spend time with Muzzin’s new prize.
Of course Dad’s side of the family would get a turn, and they did so next, in a small town just outside of Woodstock called Beachville. Here, Lord Stanley and his entourage enjoyed some lunch, and, this being the Italian side of the family, guests were able to enjoy wine from the Cup.
After lunch, Muzzin and Stanley were picked up by local police who took them into the city.
“The Cup was in the back, all buckled up safe and sound, and I was in the front of the cruiser this time, not the back, so that was better,” Muzzin joked.
Once in the city, Muzzin went to City Hall where met the City Planner, the Fire Chief, as well as the Chief of Police, who set him up on his parade route through Woodstock. Muzzin rode in the bucket of a fire truck and was able to have some of his small cousins with him. The parade ended at the community complex that is home to the rink where Muzzin played hockey as a kid. Thousands of fans were waiting to greet the new champ and his hardware.
“There were a lot of people. It was crazy, I didn’t think there would be that many people,” Muzzin remarked.
A ceremony was held in which Muzzin was presented a key to the city, and he followed that up by drinking chocolate milk out of the Stanley Cup, as Woodstock is known as the Dairy Capital of Canada. The mayor of Woodstock and the president of Woodstock’s minor hockey program did the pouring honors.
“When I first found out I was honored because I don’t think the key to the city gets handed out very often to any city,” Muzzin observed.
Following the ceremony a hall was used so that the general public could visit the Cup. For nearly three hours Muzzin signed autographs and allowed fans to take photos with the trophy.
The next stop in what was already a jam-packed day was the house of a former minor hockey teammate of Muzzin’s.
“Growing up we had a pretty successful hockey team here in Woodstock,” explains Muzzin. “We won over 100 games in a row, we didn’t lose for a couple seasons.”
Much of that team still remains close, and a Stanley Cup barbeque served as a team reunion of sorts, including the parents, and some of the people Muzzin admitted to not having seen in 10-15 years. Getting that team photo with the Cup was one of the day’s most special moments for the 25 year-old.
“It was awesome to get everyone back and the parents get back together for a little celebration,” said Muzzin.
The home where the barbeque was held happened to back up to a golf course, so at the conclusion of the festivities Muzzin took the Cup to play a hole of golf.
Around 9 P.M. Muzzin took the Cup to a local hotel where he had rented a ballroom, a DJ, and a photo booth for a party that of course included dinner, drinks and desserts, for friends and family. The stroke of midnight ended Muzzin’s time with the Cup, but the party lasted well into the night.
“It’s kind of an excuse to get everyone together. It’s tough to do with kids and everyone moving away and people are so busy, that to get everyone together on both sides of the family was also pretty special,” Muzzin shared.
Even though the 2013-14 season was Muzzin’s first full year in the NHL, this wasn’t his first experience with the Stanley Cup. A Black Ace with the Kings in 2012, Muzzin was on the ice when Los Angeles won their first championship.
“To be there and kind of not really be a part of it but be close added a little fuel to the fire, you could say. I was there, but I wanted to be a part of it in a bigger role,” Muzzin explained.
“For me, I was happy to see some of my friends win the Cup,” continued Muzzin. “I didn’t do anything to deserve to have my name on the Cup or to get a ring, and I didn’t want to get any of those things. I wanted to get it and to deserve it, and we did that this year, and it was really rewarding.”
After playing 76 games in the regular season, Muzzin contributed six goals and six assists – jersey number correlation completely coincidental – during this year’s playoff run en route to the Cup, which definitely adds up to the bigger role he was hoping for. His feeling immediately after capturing the championship supports that story:
“It’s probably one of the best feelings in the world. You dream about it growing up, you feel all season, the highs and lows with the team, you battle with each other and you go through so many different emotional levels and then for everything to come together and to win it is the best feeling in the world, and I think it should be because of what we went through to get it.”
After having won the ultimate prize so early in his career, Muzzin is very aware of what the stakes are going forward, and what motivation is required to become a repeat champion.
“We try to do it again. You play to win and you play because you love the sport. Winning is always fun no matter what you’re doing,” said Muzzin. “As long as you’re successful and winning everyone is happy and it’s way more enjoyable.”
“You play to win, that’s pretty much what we have to do now.”
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