Sneed has learned Blackhawks President John McDonough is rerouting the Stanley Cup from the NHL draft in L.A. to the parade Sunday . . . and Blackhawk defenseman Brent Sopel has volunteered to represent the team.
“I am honored to do it,” said Sopel, who will be accompanied by wife, Kelly, and his four kids, Jacob, 12, Lyla, 8, Jayla, 6, and Paul, 20, whom they adopted three years ago after Paul’s parents died within six months of each other.
“The power of the Cup is incomprehensible, and we recognize the importance of doing this,” said McDonough, who has arranged for the Stanley Cup to be flown back from the National Hockey League draft in Los Angeles 15 hours early. “It’s important for the city and important for the franchise.”
Last week, the Chicago Gay Hockey Association issued an invite to the Blackhawks and the Stanley Cup to join them at the parade.
They were hopeful, but “we know the realistic chances of them joining us for the Pride Parade are slim,” CGHA President Andrew Sobotka told Sneed last week.
It was a different story Monday, when Sneed delivered the news. “We are thrilled and honored for them to consider and accept our request,” said Sobotka. “It’s just the news we wanted to hear. For the Blackhawks to do this is amazing. It is wonderful to know everyone is helping to make 2010 a year to break down barriers.”
Sopel also is marching in honor of Brendan Burke, the son of Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, who was killed in a car accident two months after coming out late last year.
“When Brendan came out, Brian stood by him, and his whole family stood by him, like every family should,” said Sopel. “We teach our kids about accepting everybody. Tolerate everybody, to understand where everyone is coming from.”
Sports agent Scott Norton summed it up: “Brent is all about giving back and feels everyone deserves an opportunity to see the cup.”
Added McDonough: “The Stanley Cup has become the biggest celebrity of all. It has its own personality and charm. We will be proud to participate in the parade. And Brent Sopel is one of the truly great guys. To have the cup part of the parade is just another great part of the celebration.”
Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs are also breaking down a barrier: For the first time in the parade’s history, the Cubbies are going to have a float in the parade and super Cubbie Ernie Banks will be on it. “The team is playing Sunday, so they can’t be there,” said Cubs spokesman Mike Lufrano. It will also be the first float sponsored by any major Chicago sports team.
I spy . . .
Actor Denis Leary dining at RL eatery with fellow “Rescue Me” cast members Friday night .. . Actors Kevin James and Vince Vaughn dining with their families at Long Grove Cafe Sunday .. . Vaughn at the Taste of Randolph Saturday with his wife Kyla Weber .. . Eagles band member Glenn Frey spotted at Rosebud on Rush drinking champagne and partying it up with bandmates . . . Bill and Giuliana Rancic at Carmine’s outdoor patio with Chicago Bears Greg Olsen and Matt Forte Saturday night.