When former Los Angeles Kings assistant coach Jamie Kompon was asked where he wanted to enjoy his day with the Stanley Cup, he didn't hesitate to say "St. Louis."
It was there he started his NHL career when St. Louis Blues coach Joel Quenneville hired him in 1997. Monday morning, almost exactly 14 years after arriving in the Gateway City, Kompon received the Cup there, ending one remarkable chapter in Los Angeles as another is about to begin.
Kompon left the Blues after being hired as an assistant on Marc Crawford's L.A. staff in 2006, brought in to groom second-year forward Dustin Brown and a rookie center named Anze Kopitar. Six years later, Kopitar and Brown are the only players remaining from that 2006-07 squad, and two big reasons the Kings are Stanley Cup champions.
"It's an amazing transformation, working so closely with them. They're better people than they are hockey players. And that says a lot about how much I think of them," Kompon told NHL.com. "Anze Kopitar is a great person, but he's also a great hockey player. The way he has learned to play the game, he is equally as good offensively as he is defensively. That couldn't be said six years ago."
Kompon, originally from Thunder Bay, Ontario, started his day with the Cup in St. Louis with a casual meeting of 20 family members, including a few children who enjoyed eating cereal from the most iconic trophy in sports. From there, Kompon and the Cup joined Blues forward David Backes for a fundraiser benefitting Five Acres Animal Shelter. After that, Kompon brought the Cup to his favorite local restaurant before holding a party attended by 220 friends and family.
He wasn't thinking about it at the time, but by the time the trophy was back on the road for a rendezvous with Kings scout Mike Donnelly, Kompon effectively ended his journey with Los Angeles.
Roughly a month after the Kings won the Stanley Cup, Kompon was hired by the Chicago Blackhawks as an assistant coach to work under his old friend Quenneville, the man who brought him into the NHL coaching fraternity.
"Joel gave me my opportunity, so I am forever indebted to him for giving me the opportunity to get to where I am. [Blackhawks assistant coach] Mike Kitchen is an amazing person. I learned a lot from both of them," Kompon said of two former St. Louis staff-mates. "They brought me under their wing and showed me the ropes. Now I'm coming back and have a chance to show them what I've learned."
As far as farewell parties go, it will be hard to top Kompon's day with the Stanley Cup in St. Louis, another great memory in a remarkable summer for him and his wife, Tina.
"It was our 13-year anniversary the day we won the Cup. I was so focused, after lunch as I was walking to the rink, I realized, 'It's my anniversary today.' I tried to call her and didn't get through," Kompon said. "When she was down on the ice [after winning the Cup], I told her this was the best anniversary present I could ever get her. I'll never forget our anniversary. That's for sure."