RED BANK, NJ — Imagine what a six-foot Stanley Cup would look like, what it would feel like standing next to and picking up.
Jeff Dorworth never got that opportunity — even better — he got to see his beloved Washington Capitals hoist the real Stanley Cup before his untimely passing on Nov. 13, 2018.
The hockey community took a hit when Dorworth, husband, father, brother, son, friend, teammate and coach, passed away unexpectedly, but the six-foot cup which has traveled up and down the East Coast encompasses his passion for the game that brought he and his family so much joy.
Born in Baltimore, Dorworth excelled in ice hockey growing up playing for the Little Capitals and later Gunnery Prep high school in Connecticut before establishing himself and his family in Fair Haven, N.J.
Still actively skating in men’s leagues while coaching his two sons’ travel hockey teams, Dorworth witnessed the Capitals end its 43-year drought on June 9 when Alexander Ovechkin and crew brought D.C. its first-ever NHL championship, defeating the expansion Vegas Golden Knights in five games.
When a highly aggressive tumor was found growing on his kidney, an operation was completed to remove the kidney. One month later, doctors discovered it had rapidly spread to other organs — stage 4 metastasis — as the Dorworth Family poured countless resources into Jeffrey’s fight against this devastating disease. After another surgery, an infection developed and our friend, brother and son passed away following a courageous yet all-too-quick battle.
Although his athletic and academic accomplishments were plentiful, his most beloved role was serving as the quintessential husband to his wife, Carolyn, and father to their three beautiful children: Chase, Cole and Ava.
Chase is a senior on the Rumson-Fair Haven hockey team, while Cole skates for the Generals out The Armory in Red Bank.
This past weekend, a six-foot replica Stanley Cup, signed by the Capitals, traveled from D.C. to Red Bank on top of a Capitals’ jeep to make an appearance in Jeff”s honor.
“The six-foot Stanley Cup was made in Canada with the names of the Capitals’ players, coaches, trainers and owner added after the Capitals won the cup,” Dorworth family friend Ed Towmey said. “One additional name was also added… that of my late friend, Jeff Dorworth.”
The custom cup, which has been signed by Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson, Brooks Orpikm Jakub Vrana and Pheonix Copley so far, made it to Cole’s Red Bank Generals game on Feb. 16 and Chase’s Rumson-Fair Haven high school game on Feb. 18.
“My goal was to get as many signatures as possible and bring it to one of his son’s hockey games to honor their dad,” Towmey said. ”
Folks all weekend took pause, smiled and a picture or two with the cup, as tall as a man, but as light as a feather.
“I’ve had Chase Dorworth for his four-year varsity career, one of two players on this team to accomplish that feat,” Rumson-Fair Haven coach Anthony Matarazzo said. “Chase was more than just a player for this RFH team, he was a grinder, he was a hard hitter and he was fearless.
“If you ever had the chance to be at Red Bank late at night like sometimes we do with our our home ice slot you would run into some pretty good men’s league players,” Matarazzo said. “And if you’re lucky Jeff would be causing a turnover, collecting the puck, and with his heavy shot find the back of the net. Forever will we miss seeing that shot. Chase, just like Jeff, carried that heavy shot and rose to the occasion as games got tighter. I can recall last year’s 3-2 Manasquan loss in the Shore semis and Chase was coming down the half wall, made a cut inside with the puck on his forehand and there’s that shot.”
The Capitals, which entered The League as an expansion team in 1974-75, failed to qualify for the post-season its first eight seasons of existence. Twenty-four years later, Washington advanced to its very first Stanley Cup Final in 1997-98, but the Capitals were swept in four games by the Detroit Red Wings. After three consecutive second-round exits in The Stanley Cup Playoffs despite fielding some Presidents’ Trophy-winning teams, it appeared Washington might never win one.
But as Jeff boldly battled a disease out of his control, the Capitals took control of their own destiny and hoisted Lord Stanley in 2018 and Jeff was there to witness it. Now, the cup keeps his legacy and fighting spirit alive.
Related: Jeff Dorworth GoFundMe Page
“That fearlessness and resilience, and that fighting spirit that burns within Chase is the same fighting spirit we saw within Jeff,” Matarazzo added. “Forever an RFH family, forever a Bulldog.
Written by John Christian Hageny / @JCCSPORTS
Special to HockeyClan
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