Laila Anderson

Blues gift Laila Stanley Cup ring

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season begins with Wednesday’s matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals when the Blues raise their 2019 Stanley Cup banner. Coverage begins at 6:30p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

There’s no denying that Laila Anderson was one of the emotional forces behind the St. Louis Blues’ run to the Stanley Cup last spring. Anderson, who battled a rare immune disorder called HLH, was going to playoff games, she was building relationships with players and she even got to lift the Stanley Cup on the ice after the Blues won it all. It feels like she’s part of the team because she probably is. Well, the Blues organization showed their appreciation to Laila by giving her another incredible gift.

When Alexander Steen and Colton Parayko showed up to Laila’s family home, the young Blues fan and her mom had no idea why they were there. Steen and Parayko were there to deliver a special package. Yup, Laila got her very own Stanley Cup ring from the Blues.

What a moment:

“She’s special to us,” Blues defender Colton Parayko said of Anderson back in June. “She’s taught me a lot of life lessons outside of hockey. We’re excited to see her get better and obviously see her at more of the games.”

To see the length in which the players and organization are going to make Laila feel like part of the family is so special. This is such an awesome story. Hopefully it inspired other teams to go the extra mile for some of their loyal fans that are battling through difficult times.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

PHT Stanley Cup Tracker: Cup heads to the Canadian prairies

Associated Press

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

Blues fan Laila Anderson gets moment with Stanley Cup

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St. Louis Blues superfan Laila Anderson has enjoyed quite a ride while inspiring her team to its first-ever Stanley Cup victory.

Despite Game 7 being in Boston, Anderson was there, and she didn’t just get to see the Blues win it all. She even got a moment with the Stanley Cup, and fittingly, her buddy Colton Parayko helped her give the Stanley Cup a kiss.

This completes quite the ride for the 11-year-old, who’s battling a rare disease called HLH. Anderson’s had a bobblehead made in her image, and even had the chance to pump the team and the crowd before Game 3 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final in St. Louis.

The NHL posted wonderful footage of the moment on Twitter:

While PHT’s own Sean Leahy was on the ice to capture the moment:

Even if your team didn’t win it all this season – even if you root for the Bruins – it’s hard not to feel happy for Laila Anderson. Really, moments like these are what it’s all about.

MORE FROM THE BLUES WINNING THE STANLEY CUP

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.

Laila Anderson bobblehead created to benefit St. Louis Hospital

St. Louis Blues fan Laila Anderson has become such an inspiration to the team, fans, and hockey world in general, that she now has her very own bobblehead. This continues what has to have been quite the few weeks for the 11-year-old, who was on hand to pump up the Blues during Game 3 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.

The National Bobblehead Museum has put an Anderson bobblehead on pre-sale, with a goal of shipping the figurines by October of 2019. The website notes that $5 from every bobblehead sold (they’re going for $25, plus shipping) will be donated to the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, where Anderson is receiving treatment for  HLH, a rare, life-threatening condition that attacks the immune system.

“I’m really excited to be having my own bobblehead, especially since they support such a great cause!” Anderson said, via The National Bobblehead Museum’s press release. “Thank you to the St. Louis Blues and to hockey fans everywhere for all the love and support.”

Here’s a look at the bobblehead in GIF form, because you have to see that bobbling, right?

The National Bobblehead Museum explains some of the elements of the bobblehead, including the bell:

The bobblehead features Laila on a hockey-rink base with her signature jean jacket holding a replica of the sign that she held up during a recent playoff game as well as the bell that children at the Children’s Hospital ring when they finish their chemotherapy treatment.

For more on Anderson’s experiences, including her friendship with Blues defenseman Colton Parayko, check out the videos above and below.

Game 5 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final airs on NBC at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday (stream here).

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.

Blues superfan Laila Anderson on pumping up team for Game 3

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So far, things haven’t gone as planned for the Blues against the Bruins in Game 3 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, but Saturday remains a special night for 11-year-old superfan Laila Anderson.

Anderson spoke with NBCSN’s Liam McHugh about getting the chance to revv up the St. Louis crowd before Game 3, and also the opportunity to attend the game in person, which was a big surprise to Anderson, as she continues her battle with a rare immune disease known as HLS.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

As McHugh notes, Anderson is a real TV pro, as you can also see in this clip of Laila Anderson interviewing Alexander Steen:

Anderson also deserves kudos for a top notch Taco costume, which she wore during Halloween. This photo with Blues defenseman Colton Parayko is pure gold:

(Totally stealing that costume idea.)

Stories like these remind you that hockey players don’t just entertain people on TV; they also brighten lives when they’re off the ice. For more on Anderson’s experiences, check out this post and also click here. It’s OK if you need a Kleenex or two.

Game 3 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final is airing on NBCSN (stream here).

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.