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Stanstead hopes to bring Hockeyville back to Quebec

by Brian Compton
Two years ago, it was Roberval.

Now, the small town of Stanstead hopes to bring the Kraft Hockeyville award back to the Canadian province of Quebec.

Home to just 3,000 people, Stanstead -- which borders Vermont in the United States -- will learn Saturday night during CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada" if it will win the competition and receive $100,000 in arena upgrades from Kraft, as well as host an NHL preseason game next season.

Nonetheless, by being named a top-five finalist, Kraft will give the town $25,000 for Stanstead College Arena.

"Not many Canadians know about Stanstead, but hockey means the world to them," St. Louis Blues forward David Perron said. "I played in Stanstead many times growing up – and still do from time to time in the summer. The community always gets behind their players, no matter what age group. Bringing an NHL game to Stanstead would be amazing for everyone. They have my vote for sure, and I hope hockey fans across Canada support them."

The news that Stanstead was a top-five finalist came just days after Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a new state-of-the-art facility would be built there and named after Pat Burns, who coached the 2002-03 New Jersey Devils to a Stanley Cup championship.

Burns, who hails from St. Henri, Quebec, continues to battle cancer. He turns 58 on April 4.

"I probably won't see the final project," Burns told the Sherbrooke Record. "But I hope I'll be looking down someday to see a young Mario Lemieux or Wayne Gretzky playing in this rink."

Pat Burns Arena -- which will cost roughly $8.3 million -- will hold 350 people and will reside on the Stanstead College campus. Scheduled to be completed in 2011, it will replace 56-year-old Stanstead College Arena.

Besides the Devils, Burns also coached the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins. One would have to believe -- or at least hope -- Burns would be in the building this September should Stanstead host an NHL preseason game.

"The end is near and I accept it," Burns said. "As the body gets weaker, the heart gets softer and you get closer to family and closer to God. I tell my kids, don't cry when it's over. Just be happy that it happened.

"I have rubbed shoulders with the greatest players and coaches in the business. I thank God I was able to have the career that I've had."

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