The Local Lord Of The Cup

The Stanley Cup, widely considered to be the greatest trophy in professional sports, was a fixture on Long Island during the dynasty years of the New York Islanders (1980-83). And though it has been more than 30 seasons since Lord Stanley was paraded around the Nassau Coliseum, the Cup made a cameo appearance in the summer of 2009 thanks to the only Long Islander to have his name engraved on it—twice.

Bethpage native Rob Scuderi, who grew up rooting for the Islanders, was on the ice for the final six seconds when the Pittsburgh Penguins held off the Detroit Red Wings in the last game of the 2009 finals. As is NHL tradition, on his day with the Cup, Scuderi brought it home. First to Bethpage High School where his mother was a chemistry teacher, then to Lido Beach, where his father, a retired Nassau County police officer, rented a place to celebrate. And finally to Newbridge Arena in Bellmore where he skated frequently as a kid.

“I thought it was important to bring the Cup back to Long Island,” said Scuderi. The 35-year-old stay at home defenseman returned to Pittsburgh prior to last season after spending four seasons with the Los Angeles Kings and helping them to their first-ever Stanley Cup championship in 2012.

Rob and his brother Kenny, who earned Division I scholarships to Boston College and Clarkson University respectively, took to the ice at an early age after their father taught himself to skate. “I was about six years old when I started,” Rob recalled. “We’d go to public sessions at Cantiague Park and we’d play in an old hangar at Mitchel Field and in our unfinished basement.”

Rob, who graduated from St. Anthony’s High School, won an NCAA title in 2001 when the Eagles beat North Dakota in overtime. He soon embarked on an NHL career that’s spanned 11 seasons and nearly 700 games. He and his wife, Courtney, a Huntington native and former soccer goalkeeper at BC, have two sons and a daughter, and a fourth child on the way. Pulse caught up with Scuderi earlier this season when the Penguins were in town to face the Islanders.

Long Island Pulse: How does it feel to be the first Long Islander to win the Stanley Cup and be the answer to a trivia question?
Rob Scuderi: Winning the Cup is something you always think about as a hockey player. It’s the ultimate prize, and I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be a part of two championship teams.

Pulse: Growing up an Islanders fan, who were some of your favorite players?
RS: There were a lot of guys I enjoyed watching, like Denis Potvin, Pat LaFontaine, Derek King, Steve Thomas and Benoit Hogue. I remember David Volek’s slap shot goal over Tom Barrasso that beat the Penguins in Game 7 of the [1993] playoffs.

Pulse: Is it special to come back and play against the Islanders?
RS: Absolutely. It was a building I loved to be at as a kid. I attended a few games at the Coliseum every year when I was younger and always listened on the radio when I couldn’t get here.

Pulse: What were the last six seconds like in the 2009 finals?
RS: It was nerve-wracking more than anything else and it definitely felt more like a minute and a half than six seconds. Whether you’re on the ice at the end or not, it feels great to accomplish that feat as a group.

Pulse: Tell us about your first NHL goal.
RS: It happened to come at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers. It was my rookie season (2003-04) and my first game playing in New York. I had a nice cheering section at the game. I took a pass down the middle and beat Jason LaBarbera. It was pretty memorable, and I have the puck in a special spot at my home back in Boston.

Pulse: Who are some of the toughest players you’ve had to defend?
RS: Pavel Datsyuk of the Red Wings, then while I was with LA certainly Sidney Crosby. Anže Kopitar of the Kings, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks; there are so many talented forwards. They’re all quick and have every single tool in the bag.

Pulse: What are some of your off-season hobbies?
RS: I enjoy golf, but it’s hard to get out on the course too much. Spending time with my wife and kids comes first. Our two older kids play sports, so we’re pretty busy with their schedules and it’s a lot of fun.

Pulse: What are some of your favorite memories of growing up on LI?
RS: The Long Island summers are something I definitely miss. There were so many options. Once the summers were over it was mostly about hockey, but I always enjoyed going to Jones Beach and hanging out with friends and family.