Another small Canadian town is about to become the center of the hockey universe this weekend.
Conception Bay South, home to roughly 20,000 people in the province of Newfoundland, is set to host the 2011 Kraft Hockeyville event. The activities get under way this Saturday, when NHL alumni run clinics at Robert French Memorial Stadium.
By winning a competition that received a record 297 entries (Conception Bay South received more than 995,000 votes to claim to grand prize), CBS received a check for $100,000 from Kraft that will go toward upgrading its local rink. But that's just the beginning.
The Stanley Cup Event, NHL Alumni autograph signing sessions, a community barbeque (courtesy of Bull's-Eye Barbecue Sauce), a fireworks show and a special guest appearance by CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada's" Ron MacLean, Don Cherry and Cassie Campbell-Pascall highlight this weekend's festivities in Conception Bay South, all of which are free to attend.
Alumni expected to attend include Kris King, Laurie Boschman, Patrick Lalime and Shaun Van Allen. They will participate in events both on and off the ice.
The main event will take place Monday in nearby St. John's, when the Winnipeg Jets face the Ottawa Senators in a preseason game at Mile One Centre. Ottawa's Colin Greening and Winnipeg's Jason King -- both Newfoundland natives -- are expected to play for their respective clubs.
Monday marks the sixth Kraft Hockeyville game. Other cities that have won the award include Salmon River, Nova Scotia (2006), North Bay, Ontario (2007), Roberval, Quebec (2008), Terrace, British Columbia (2009) and Dundas, Ontario (2010).
In order to win the event, Conception Bay South (995,368 votes) had to beat out MacKenzie, British Columbia (652,442), Saint-Raymond, Quebec (534,325), Bentley, Alberta (467,607) and Wolfe Island, Ontario (450,228). The four other finalists received $25,000 in arena upgrades from Kraft.
The upgrades to Robert French Memorial Stadium have already begun. Last week, representatives from Kraft Canada and the Conception Bay South Kraft Hockeyville local organizing committee joined CBS Deputy Mayor John Hicks to install new arena safety glass.
"The local rink brings friends and families together. Through hockey, it fosters connections that last a lifetime," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "It serves as a vital center of community pride, and Kraft Hockeyville helps ensure that future generations of players will be able to enjoy those benefits. We at the National Hockey League are extremely proud of our connection with Kraft and our support of this outstanding program."
NHL.com will provide coverage of the Kraft Hockeyville festivities throughout the weekend.
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL