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TORONTO (Reuters) - The Stanley Cup was mistakenly loaded onto the wrong plane on the weekend and sent thousands of miles from its intended destination, the handler of the National Hockey League's most prized trophy said on Tuesday.
Mike Bolt, who travels with the Stanley Cup over 200 days a year, said he checked the unmarked case carrying the trophy at a New Jersey airport on Sunday, but when he landed in Vancouver was told by Air Canada that his package was in Toronto.
"I wasn't expecting a problem since it's such a simple flight with no connections," Bolt, who has been travelling with the Stanley Cup for 10 years, told Reuters. "Anyway, they call me over and tell me the package is not there."
Bolt said the case carrying the Stanley Cup was tagged with both Vancouver and Toronto airport codes, leading to the mix-up. It was returned to Bolt hours later, but not in time for its scheduled appearance at a Vancouver charity event.
Since it was first presented in 1892, the Stanley Cup has been left on a roadside in a snowbank, stolen, used as a flower pot, dropkicked into the bottom of a canal, and used as a bowl for a child's christening.
Bolt said the last time the 34.5-pound (15.5-kg), 36-inch tall (89.54 cm) trophy was misplaced under his watch was in 2003, when it missed a flight to Slovakia.
The Stanley Cup is the oldest trophy competed for by professional athletes in North America and is presented each year to the National Hockey League's playoff champion. It is engraved with names of the winning team's members and normally makes its home at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
Writing by Frank Pingue; editing by Rob Wilson