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Stadium Series

Grahame family hockey royalty in Denver

Dad, mom and two sons have strong ties to game

by Bill Price @billpricenhl / Editor in Chief

DENVER - Ron Grahame has heard the honorable nickname given to him, his wife and their two sons, but he's not so sure he agrees with it. It's not surprising the patriarch of what many call "The First Family of Denver Hockey" feels that way, because the 65-year-old former University of Denver goalie exudes class, grace and most of all humility.

"We don't look at ourselves that way," Grahame said this week as the hockey world focused its eyes on the Mile High City and the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game Saturday between the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings at Coors Field (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports 2). "We are just thankful for the opportunity that we had. The game has been very good to us and I think we've contributed to the game."

How's this for a contribution? 

Grahame, originally from Victoria, British Columbia, played goalie for the University of Denver from 1969-73. In 2002 he was honored as a member of the 50th Anniversary All-Western Collegiate Hockey Association Team. He played professional hockey for eight years; his first four with the Houston Aeros of the World Hockey Association.
Grahame played in the NHL for the Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings and Quebec Nordiques. He served as a full-time assistant coach at the University of Denver for eight seasons and has spent more than 30 years in some capacity with the school's athletic program. In 1997, he was inducted into the University of Denver Athletic Department Hall of Fame. 

His wife, Charlotte, has worked in the Avalanche front office since the franchise's first day in Denver in 1995. In her 21st year with the club, she is currently Vice President of Hockey Administration.

One of their sons, John, played goalie for eight seasons in the NHL, winning the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lighting in 2004. Their other son, Jason, followed in his dad's skates and played defense for the University of Denver, graduating in 2003. Ron and Jason are the only father-son combination to play hockey at the school.

Charlotte and John are the only mother-son combination to have their names on the Stanley Cup; Charlotte is on it twice for the Avalanche (1996 and 2001).

"That's pretty neat to see," Ron said. 

Hard to argue their place in Denver hockey royalty. 

Still, Ron tries. 

"I think in general, we feel like we're a strong part of Colorado," he said. "Not that we have grown the sport, but we have been involved in the sport."

Grahame's office inside the impressive Richie Center overlooks the lacrosse complex on campus and is filled with items from several University of Denver sports teams. His title is Associate Vice Chancellor for Sport Supervision and Internal Operations, a position he says is akin to a general manager for the athletic department, dealing with the 17 Division I teams at the school. He says he may miss the Stadium Series game on Saturday because of a 6 p.m. gymnastics meet.

Perhaps the highlight of his office décor is a collage Grahame put together that includes the jersey patch from every team he played on. In the middle of the frame are patches from the Bruins and Kings, two former teams that added another chapter to Grahame's incredible hockey life.

In October 1978, a few months after the Bruins lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Final, Grahame was traded to Los Angeles for the Kings' first-round pick (No. 8) in the 1979 NHL Draft. 

The Bruins watched the Chicago Blackhawks select Keith Brown at No. 7, so they had to settle for a defenseman out of Montreal named Ray Bourque.  

"It was a number of years [after that trade] that it dawned on me," Grahame said. "It became more of a conversation piece as I was coaching, later in the '80s, well after Ray had established himself."

Grahame said he met the Hall of Fame defenseman on Oct. 4, 1999, when John was making his NHL debut for the Bruins in Toronto.

"We went and saw that game, Ray came out and said hello," Grahame said. "He knew who I was and I knew who he was. But it was an interesting dynamic. My rights traded to L.A., and that turned out to be Ray for Boston, and there was my son playing goalie for the Bruins."

Five months later, Bourque would be traded to the Avalanche and the following season would help get Charlotte's name on the Stanley Cup for a second time. Bourque skated for the Avalanche alumni Friday in the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series Alumni Game. 

With the Avalanche celebrating their 20th anniversary, this is a great weekend for Denver hockey.

"[University of Denver] Hockey has been a pretty consistent part of the community from the '60s," Grahame said. "But I think with the Avs being here, it's grown the game, no question. They have grown the game the way a successful NHL team can."

On Feb. 20, the University of Denver played Colorado College on the outdoor rink at Coors Field, drawing more than 35,000 fans and setting the stage for what will be an even bigger crowd Saturday. 

"People in Colorado got a tremendous taste of the outdoor game with our game against Colorado College," Grahame said. "I think [the Stadium Series] will be a great event."

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