Colton Parayko

Associated Press

PHT Stanley Cup Tracker: Cup heads to the Canadian prairies

The PHT Stanley Cup tracker will keep tabs on how the St. Louis Blues spend their summer celebrating.

We’re back once again and on the trail of the Stanley Cup, which is traveling around the world this summer in the hands of the St. Louis Blues.

According to the Blues, the Cup will travel nearly 29,000 miles across three continents and five countries over the next two months.

This week, the Cup was in Western Canada, visiting head coach Craig Berube’s’ quaint hometown in Alberta and in Regina, where Brayden Schenn and Co. took the mug to Mosaic Stadium, the home of the Canadian Football League’s Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The Cup made its way to Busch Stadium two weeks ago as several of the Blues players hoisted it in front of thousands of St. Louis Cardinals fans.

And here’s Conn Smythe winner Ryan O'Reilly throwing out the game’s first pitch.

Brayden Schenn got his day with the Cup in Saskatoon on Friday and took it right to the place where his father has worked for 28 years as a firefighter.

Schenn was seen wearing a firefighter helmet during the Blues’ parade with the Cup back in June.

“You always think if I win the Cup, you put the thoughts in your head of what I would do with it,” Schenn told the team’s website. “My dad is a firefighter, so this was important to me. I’m trying to do my best sharing it with a lot of people today.”

He also took it Royal University Hospital where he met with sick children, including 16-year-old John Bossaer.

The Cup then headed a few hours south, where Tyler Bozak and Jaden Schwartz shared their day with the Cup with the city of Regina on Saturday.

The duo planted a Blues flag on the Saskatchewan Legislative Building.

They then headed to where people where melons on their heads: Mosaic Stadium.

There, they paraded the trophy in front of thousands of Saskatchewan Roughriders fans who had assembled for the Canadian Football League’s game against the Calgary Stampeders. There wasn’t much to cheer for during the football game for fans — the Roughriders lost 37-10 — but Bozak and Schwartz, along with Schenn, got the crowd into a frenzy.

Earlier in the week, the Cup was a province over in Alberta.

Craig Berube, fresh off a three-year extension as bench boss with the Blues, took the Cup back to his hometown of Calahoo, Alta.

It’s not a big place — the thriving metropolis boasts a population of just 85 — but they were all out to congratulate Berube.

“We all grew up here,” Berube told the team’s website. “My dad and brothers lived on this farm or just down the road. We were grain farmers, cattle farmers, we had it all here, that’s how we grew up. It’s changed now, but still my dad lives here with his brothers and my uncle built a 9-hole golf course on the property over there.

“Every summer I come back once or twice, and when we play Edmonton I come back and visit if I have the chance. But this is the most special trip so far for me.”

His mother, meanwhile, was just as thrilled.

“I never dreamt it. Unreal,” said Ramona Berube, Craig’s mother. “I never thought of something like this (happening). It’s just great for everybody who was down at the arena to see it. You can see how much it means to everybody.”

Colton Parayko, meanwhile, got his day with the Cup in St. Alberta, a city northwest of Edmonton.

Parayko’s day also included an emotional moment as he, along with his grandfather and family, toasted his grandma, who died last November after a battle with cancer.

According to Parayko, a deal was made between grandmother and grandson that if the latter made the NHL one day, the former would take a shot of peach schnapps at her home in St. Albert any time he scored.

With her passing, the family honored the tradition on Wednesday.

“She was a special girl and she means a lot to me and my whole family,” Parayko said. “With me not being in St. Albert here and playing in St. Louis, the shots were a way we could frequently connect (during hockey season). In the summer when I came home, she begged me to score a few extra ones for her.”

“We had such a wonderful life together. I wish she was here to see this.”

Meanwhile, the mayor of Boston, Martin Walsh, made a nice gesture to Laila Anderson this week, congratulating her and the Blues for their Stanley Cup win.

“Dear Laila – We have never met, so let me begin by introducing myself. My name is Marty and I am a passionate, lifelong Boston Bruins fan,” Walsh wrote. “I am writing to you because a couple of weeks ago, I was at home, watching pre-game coverage of game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, when I saw a story about you, your love of the St. Louis Blues, how the Blues players’ love you in return, and how you inspried an entire city and fan base. After watching the segment, I turned to my partner, Lorrie, and said, ‘This stinks! I love the Bruins and I want them to win! … But I really want Laila to win, too!’

“I don’t know if you or your family plan to come back to Boston anytime soon, but if you should return please let me know as I would be very glad to meet you and your family and show you some more of Boston. I certainly can’t promise you a cooler experience than standing on the Garden ice kissing the Stanley Cup, but Boston’s a great city and would love to have you back.”


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Hometown hero Maroon celebrates Stanley Cup family style

Patrick Maroon lifting the Stanley Cup above his head in a St. Louis Blues uniform fulfilled a lifelong dream.

The moment didn’t compare to holding the Cup just low enough for his son to kiss it. Maroon will be hailed as a hometown hero for signing with the Blues and helping them win their first championship, but what is most important to him was the chance to be around 10-year-old son Anthony and celebrate with him.

”This is truly something I’ll never forget,” Maroon said. ”Me and my son will take this to our grave, and we’ll have memories for life.”

The Maroons on Saturday will get the chance to ride in the first Blues championship parade, the culmination of Maroon’s gamble on himself to take less money and a one-year deal to be around his family.

Patti Maroon was almost speechless at the sight of her youngest son holding the Stanley Cup for her grandson to enjoy. It was a year full of ups and downs, from a horrendous start to the season to an 11-game winning streak, the chance to play in Anthony’s father/son game and the death of his grandfather, Ernie.

Maroon hugged his grandfather on his deathbed just before the playoffs and told him he’d win the Stanley Cup for him. The chance to be around his family on the ice in Boston on Wednesday night with the Cup represented a brand new high.

”Something like I’ve never experienced in my life,” Patti said. ”It doesn’t get better than this. All your dreams as a child and being in the NHL, to get this far, words can’t even explain.”

Maroon authored a signature moment of the championship run when he scored in double overtime of Game 7 in the second round against Dallas. Patti Maroon ranked that moment – Anthony cried when his dad scored – right up there with the Stanley Cup.

Now, about that Stanley Cup. It’s a little different than the makeshift trophy Patrick, his brothers and their friends played for in Patti and Phil Maroon’s basement in Oakville, just outside St. Louis.

Businesses on Telegraph Road there have been trumpeting messages like, ”Congratulations hometown boy” or offering Maroon a free car wash. If Anthony has anything to say about it, Oakville’s main street will host his dad’s summer celebration.

”It feels great to have my dad win the first Stanley Cup that he’s ever won,” Anthony said. ”He’s going to bring it back on Telegraph Road, you know? … I’m really proud of him.”

Maroon’s parents beamed with pride as he took the Cup from teammate Colton Parayko and wanted his son to touch it. He handed it to one of his brothers, too, because this has always been about family for Maroon.

”It’s amazing,” Maroon said. ”Who wouldn’t want it like that? Being from St. Louis and signing in St. Louis and winning the Stanley Cup and bringing it home and being with my family and friends.”

Phil Maroon was there when his youngest son was drafted in 2007 in Columbus, when he made his NHL debut in 2011 in Chicago. A longtime season-ticket holder himself, Phil’s thoughts raced back and forth between Patrick winning the Stanley Cup and that he did so for the city of St. Louis.

”Patrick has been dreaming of this his entire life,” Phil said. ”And he got the opportunity this year and the team came together as one and I couldn’t be more happier for the St. Louis Blues organization and most importantly the St. Louis fans who have been waiting 49 years. My son, so surreal. This is unbelievable.”

Maroon would always pretend to be Brett Hull in childhood basement games, but Hull had to go elsewhere to win the Stanley Cup. The same goes for Chris Pronger, and neither Adam Oates nor Keith Tkachuk ever won it.

Reminded that this Blues team did what 50 others in the franchise’s history couldn’t, Maroon flashed a big smile.

”We did it,” Maroon said. ”We did it. There’s nothing else. We deserve this.”

Conn Smythe voting results shed interesting light on O’Reilly, Rask

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What a difference Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final makes.

Heading into Wednesday’s winner takes all contest, PHT wondered if anyone else had a chance to win the Conn Smythe, what with Tuukka Rask‘s numbers towering over everyone else’s stats. I thought that Rask deserved it even if the Boston Bruins lost. The Bruins did lose, and it turns out that Rask didn’t get a single first place vote. Oops.

Instead, Ryan O'Reilly took home the Conn Smythe, and the St. Louis Blues beat the Bruins 4-1 to win their first-ever Stanley Cup. Jordan Binnington outplayed Rask by a huge degree in Game 7, and PHWA voters understandably weighed that decisive game heavily.

ROR was a fine choice, but for those who like to peek behind the curtain, it might be interesting to look at the results. The PHWA released all of the voting results, with media members selecting a top three:

Jordan Binnington received five first-place votes, while Rask joined Alex Pietrangelo among those who received second-place votes. There’s one case of O’Reilly finishing third on a ballot.

The voting system worked out to where first place received five points, second was given three points, and third received one. Here’s how the totals panned out:

Totals (first place votes):

Ryan O’Reilly (St. Louis) – 78 points (13)
Jordan Binnington (St. Louis) – 46 points (5)
Tuukka Rask (Boston) – 21 points (0)
Alex Pietrangelo (St. Louis) – 10 points (0)
Colton Parayko (St. Louis) – 7 points (0)

Interesting to see that Vladimir Tarasenko didn’t receive any votes. It isn’t too surprising that Brad Marchand didn’t get in the mix, either, although it’s worth noting that Marchand tied O’Reilly for the playoff points lead, as both finished with 23. It’s nice to see Colton Parayko get some votes, as he was fantastic during this postseason.

Overall, O’Reilly is a choice that’s easy to live with. If you’re like me, you tend to debate quite a few Conn Smythe victories over the years. (Jarome Iginla was robbed! Chris Pronger should have finished with one during his reign of playoff terror.) Honestly, this doesn’t really strike me as particularly out of line.

That said, it’s unfortunate that many will remember Rask’s postseason in a less than positive way. If you could somehow zoom out of a tough Game 7, Rask was still fantastic, finishing with a splendid .934 save percentage, far ahead of Binnington’s .914 save percentage.

Hot take: Rask would trade those stats for Binnington’s shiny new toy.

MORE BLUES STANLEY CUP COVERAGE:
• Jay Bouwmeester finally gets his Stanley Cup
• Blues fan Laila Anderson gets moment with Stanley Cup
• Ryan O’Reilly wins Conn Smythe Trophy
• Berube helped Blues find identity after early-season struggle
• Blues latest team erased from Stanley Cup drought list

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Jay Bouwmeester finally gets his Stanley Cup

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BOSTON — The 1,260th NHL game of Jay Bouwmeester’s 17-year career was the sweetest. The 35-year-old defenseman finally got his opportunity to lift the Stanley Cup after the St. Louis Blues topped the Boston Bruins in Game 7.

The journey to be able to call himself a Stanley Cup champion was a long one. It wasn’t until his 10th year, when he was traded from the Calgary Flames to the Blues at the 2013 trade deadline, that he finally got to experience playoff hockey. It was a move that general manager Doug Armstrong thought would pay off sooner than it did.

“We had some really good teams back then and couldn’t get over the hump,” he said. “We brought Jay in because we thought he could help us win a championship.”

But the Blues didn’t come close in his first three seasons in St. Louis. Three disappointing first-round exits, all while Bouwmeester, the No. 3 overall pick in 2002, found success as a gold medal winner with Canada at the 2014 Olympics. The next few seasons, however, would see a further decline in his production.

A hip injury would end his 2017-18 season, which only saw him play 35 games. Surgery would cause him to have an up-and-down 2018-19 campaign, and though he played 78 games, he found himself a healthy scratch. But Bouwmeester never gave up hope he would be able to come back and re-find his game.

“Last year was a tough year for me and then this year at the start I just wasn’t quite right yet and went through some tough times, and our team went through some tough times,” Bouwmeester said during the Blues’ on-ice celebrations Wednesday night at TD Garden. “I knew if I could get healthy I’d get back playing the way that I can. Like a lot of guys, we persevered.”

[RELATED: Blues win first Stanley Cup]

The old Bouwmeester was back in the playoffs for the Blues. He assisted on seven goals and averaged 23:30 a night during the postseason. In Game 7, he played more minutes than any player on the ice — 28:34 — and fired the puck on net that Ryan O’Reilly deflected for the opening goal of the game.

After the game, fellow Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo made sure that Bouwmeester was the first one after him to hoist the Cup.

“It was awesome. I’ve waited a long time,” Bouwmeester said. “Pretty honored that he gave it to me. Everyone contributes and everyone gets it, so it doesn’t matter who gets it first or second or whatever.”

There were a lot of reasons the Blues wanted to win the Cup, Bouwmeester was certainly near the top of the list for his teammates.

“For a guy like that, he’s been in the league a long time,” said Bouwmeester’s defense partner, Colton Parayko. “When Jay talks in the room, everyone listens. You know he means it and that’s what he was doing throughout this Final. He was an absolute force for us. … I’m so proud of him. He’s such a great player.”

There will be players on both the Blues and Bruins who never get this far again in their careers. There might have been a time for Bouwmeester when he wondered if he’d ever get the opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup. After a long, arduous road, he finally got his chance and it worked out.

“Thank God it’s over. It’s hard,” said Bouwmeester. “You’re so excited. You work so long for this. This team’s been through so much, you’re just happy for all the guys on the team and your family. It will sink in in a couple of days.”

MORE BLUES STANLEY CUP COVERAGE:
Video: Blues hoist Stanley Cup
Blues fan Laila Anderson gets moment with Stanley Cup
Ryan O’Reilly wins Conn Smythe Trophy
Berube helped Blues find identity after early-season struggle
Blues latest team erased from Stanley Cup drought list

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Video: Blues hoist Stanley Cup

Sean Leahy

The St. Louis Blues entered the league in 1967 and until this year, they had never won a game in the Stanley Cup Final. The team and fans have been waiting a long time for this moment and now they get to enjoy it:

Speaking of waiting a long time to get the Cup, it was great to see it passed off to Jay Bouwmeester. The 35-year-old defenseman certainly had to pay his dues. He made his NHL debut back in 2002 and didn’t even get to play in his first postseason contest until 2013 despite some amazing campaigns on his part during that drought.

Even at his age, he remains an important part of the St. Louis Blues. He logged 28:34 minutes in the Stanley Cup Final; more than any other player. Overall, he averaged 23:30 minutes per contest in the playoffs, which made him a vital part of the Blues’ defensive core along with Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko.

After all the hard work he and his teammates have done and all the trials they endured in this down-and-then-up campaign, they finally have a chance to celebrate.

Ryan Dadoun is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @RyanDadoun.