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Summer with Stanley

Stephenson gives back to community on day with Stanley Cup

Capitals forward meets Saskatoon residents, to visit Humboldt on Friday

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan -- Darwin Megyesi hadn't slept after finishing a 12-hour security shift at St. Paul's Hospital at 7 a.m.

The event didn't start until 1 p.m., but it didn't matter.

Megyesi, 47, went straight from work to Kiwanis Memorial Park downtown and stood in line in his special-order Chandler Stephenson Washington Capitals jersey.

"It was just a must," Megyesi said.


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Megyesi, who has been a Capitals fan for years, had never met Stephenson nor seen the Stanley Cup in person, and Stephenson was sharing the Cup with fans in his hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, on Thursday.

Stephenson will also bring the Cup to Humboldt, Saskatchewan, a town of about 5,900 an hour and a half east, on Friday. The Humboldt Broncos, who play in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, were involved in a team bus crash April 6 that killed 16 and injured 13. Megyesi knew the father of an injured player and was working at St. Paul's Hospital when two players arrived by ambulance.

"How [Stephenson] is supporting them by going out to Humboldt and doing that, just stellar," Megyesi said. "Stellar. Just a remarkable guy. That's why I can't wait to meet him."

The traditional day with the Cup can be a personal, private experience for the player.

Stephenson felt fortunate. Some strive for years in the NHL and never win the Cup. He hoisted it in his first full NHL season. He had 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in 67 regular-season games and seven points (two goals, five assists) in 24 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

"He pinches himself over that," said Stephenson's father, Curt. "It's not supposed to happen this way, but he's glad it did."

When the Cup arrived at his house on Thursday, Stephenson and his family ate and drank out of it. They also took it in the backyard, where he used to skate on an outdoor rink, and took pictures with an old door full of holes and puck marks from basement hockey.

"We always imagined making it to the NHL, but never to win a Stanley Cup and have it at the house," said Stephenson's brother, Colton. "We never got that far in our dreams."

But the Cup can have a powerful effect on others, too.

Stephenson had trained with Broncos forwards Brayden Camrud and Kaleb Dahlgren, who were injured in the crash. As the Capitals advanced in the playoffs, he thought about taking the Cup to Humboldt if he got the chance. 

"Just to give back to that community and hopefully put some smiles on people's faces, just make it a good day," Stephenson said. "The community deserves it."

Humboldt Hockey Day, hosted by the NHL and the NHL Players' Association, will focus on the community and support the Broncos as they prepare for the upcoming season. Fans will have a chance to see the Cup, meet Stephenson and other current and former NHL players from Saskatchewan, and play interactive games and street hockey.

"It's crazy to see how excited people get about it," Colton Stephenson said. "It turns old men into little kids. I think Chandler knew that it had that kind of feeling to it, or that vibe to it, and he wanted to share that with the people of Humboldt. It's just a way to kind of help out in his own way."

As Megyesi stood in the park Thursday, the line grew behind him, stretching along a path under the trees on edge the South Saskatchewan River. When Stephenson arrived and hoisted the Cup over his head, the fans cheered and took photos, some in Capitals jerseys. Allyce Olfert, 30, and her son Treydon, 12, wore Broncos jerseys.

"It's awesome that he's [bringing the Cup to Humboldt]," Allyce said. "They need something to cheer them up. They need some good. It's a terrible, terrible thing, but it's nice that somebody is thinking about them and wants to bring this to them and help the hockey world a little bit."

Stephenson sat in the Vimy Memorial Bandshell, built in 1937 to honor Canada's participation in the Battle of Vimy Ridge in World War I. Fans could take a picture with the Cup, then get a photo with Stephenson and an autograph.

"It was pretty crazy, the anticipation to get it," Stephenson said. "And to have it, it's been a lot of fun."

Megyesi had Stephenson sign his special-order jersey, then shook his hand. 

Worth the wait?

Megyesi exhaled and gave a thumbs up.

"Yeah," he said. 

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