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Summer with Stanley

Berube brings Stanley Cup to hometown in Canada

Blues coach celebrates with family, friends, rides in parade with trophy

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer

CALAHOO, Alberta -- Craig Berube's father is certain nothing this big has ever happened in this tiny hamlet in Sturgeon County.

"Maybe a dance once in a while," Roger Berube said at the Calahoo Arena, where about 2,000 family, friends and fans waited patiently to greet his son, the coach of the St. Louis Blues, and have their picture taken with the Stanley Cup.


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The Blues, who defeated the Boston Bruins in seven games to win their first Stanley Cup, kicked off their Summer with Stanley tour on Tuesday, and Berube, who was named coach on Nov. 19, was the first to have his day with the trophy, bringing it to Calahoo, which has an official population of 85.

Craig Berube said he was heartened to see so many kids among those waiting for autographs and photos, eager to share in the celebration.

"It's what it's all about," Berube said. "It's one of the reasons we bring that Cup here and share it with kids and everybody else. It's important. I was fortunate to have real good people around me as a kid, be brought up playing sports and [having parents drive] us everywhere. To give back like this, it means everything to me.

"It was pretty special today. I'm happy for the people who came out to enjoy the Cup. It means a lot to them out here, whether they're an Oilers fan or a Blues fan or a Philadelphia Flyers fan, it doesn't matter. The Stanley Cup means a lot to people in Canada."

When three hours of hugs and handshakes were finished, autographs were signed and pictures snapped, Berube loaded the Cup into a blue pickup truck. Led by an emergency services vehicle and a Calahoo Fire Department truck, a six-vehicle parade moved south from the arena for a half mile, past the town hall, the ballpark with four fastball diamonds, two churches and the general store to the hamlet's limit at the railroad tracks.

People lined both sides of Range Road 275 to cheer Berube and the Cup, and then his family retreated to the Berube backyard for an afternoon lawn party which included family friend Glenn Hall, a two-time Stanley Cup-winning goalie (1952, 1961) and the first player in Blues history.

Having lived in Calahoo his entire life, Roger Berube had a tough time describing the scene.

"I don't know if I can put it into words," he said. "It's unbelievable. Best he's done. When he started out as a kid, you don't know how far he could go. He played junior, never got drafted, and from there he just carried on. He made it to the Final a couple of times as a player, which was, to me, an accomplishment. Now this comes along. Can't explain it."

During his playing career of 1,054 NHL regular-season games with the Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames, Washington Capitals and New York Islanders, Berube reached the Stanley Cup Final twice, with the Flyers in 1987 and the Capitals in 1998. He lost each time, in seven games to the Edmonton Oilers in 1987 and in four games to the Detroit Red Wings in 1998.

After coaching the Blues to their Cup win and back among his hometown folks, Berube's comfort and joy were impossible to miss.

And those who showed up to help him celebrate were just as excited.

Calahoo native Glen Puhalski and Tucker, his 10-year-old chihuahua, waited 90 minutes in the line that snaked around the arena floor and outside into the parking lot to get their picture with Berube and the Cup.

"When they were in the playoffs, it was exciting," Puhalski, 61, said. "Coming out with that Cup, unbelievable. So happy for everybody."

Gavin Bancarz and his 9-year-old son Brodin live a short drive north from the Calahoo Arena and arrived at 6:30 a.m. local time so they could be first in line to have their picture taken with Berube and the Cup.

"A dream come true for a long time," Gavin said. "It's incredible, amazing. To have something that's internationally renowned (the Cup) to come to Calahoo, it's definitely pulling in the crowds. It's incredible."

Berube laughed when he acknowledged he's heard plenty of talk, even in Calahoo, of repeating the Stanley Cup win.

"I'm sure a lot of people are expecting it," he said. "But it's important to enjoy this right now, it really is, because it's hard to do, I'll tell you that. It's a tough trophy to win."

That will be for another day. Tuesday was all about feeling the love in his hometown.

"It's awesome," Berube said. "It's hard to give you one word. Just to see everybody so happy and be involved in it and be part of it and be excited to come up and take a picture with the Cup and to touch [it], it means a lot to them so it means a lot to me."

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