Dr. Neil Foster had delivered three babies earlier that morning, but that’s not why the obstetrician was fighting back tears Sunday. It was the invitation to touch—to kiss—the Stanley Cup that got him choked up.
He was one of several hundred employees and patients at Inova Loudoun Hospital that got the chance to touch, hug and smooch the 34-pound silver cup Sunday, five weeks after the Washington Capitals beat out the Las Vegas Knights for the NHL championship.
The Stanley Cup’s visit to the hospital was made possible with the help of Mark Nemish, the Capitals’ strength and conditioning coach who is a Loudoun resident.
The impressive trophy was on Inova’s Lansdowne campus for about 90 minutes. Hospital employees and their families were invited to line up to get professionally shot photos with the cup. A line of hundreds of hockey fans, dressed in Caps jerseys and hats, stretched out the door of Inova’s main entrance, while doctors and nurses still on the clock peeked over the balcony to catch a glimpse of the shiny prize.
Then, Nemish, sandwiched between a pair of Loudoun County sheriff deputies, carted the cup to the hospital’s Birthing Inn. Matthew and Anna Gebert, with their 1-day-old son, Alex, got a private viewing with the Stanley Cup, as Nemish carefully rolled the nearly 3-foot beast into their room.
“Wow, can I put him in there?” Matthew Gebert asked.
With a nod from Nemish, Gebert hoisted his tiny, sleeping son into the silver cup, just long enough for nurses and doctors to snap photos. Then Birthing Inn staff got their moment with the medal. Foster and a few colleagues gathered on either side of the cup for a photo, just before the obstetrician snuck a kiss.
“This is the thrill of a lifetime,” he said.
Hockey isn’t just a game to Foster. As a kid growing up in Canada, it was a part of his daily life. When his family moved to Philadelphia, they brought their love of hockey with them, rooting hard for the Flyers when they beat the Buffalo Sabres for the national championship in 1975. That was the last time Foster saw the Stanley Cup.
“We skipped school that day to see it in the parade. My teacher said you’re getting an F for skipping, but I didn’t care,” he said.
He quickly rattled off another hockey story, about his brother getting to skate alongside Wayne Gretzky in a practice session in the late ’70s.
“So the joke has always been, ‘oh, your brother got to skate with Wayne Gretzky.’ Well, I just texted my brother to tell him about this.”
“Guess what I’m doing today?” the text read. “Kissing the Stanley Cup!”