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St. Louis Blues centre Ryan O'Reilly brings the Stanley Cup home

Stanley Cup winner Ryan O'Reilly will share the parade routes with hockey greats when he brings the cup home on Thursday.

Thousands are expected in Goderich and Seaforth for two parades Thursday

A Main Street storefront in Seaforth, Ont.

When St. Louis Blues forward Ryan O'Reilly hoists the Stanley Cup for hometown crowds in Huron County, Ont. Thursday, his 99-year-old grandmother, Deirdre O'Reilly, will be by his side.

"It'll be great to see her and say, 'We did it, Granny,'" said O'Reilly, whose 24 hours with the Stanley Cup include parades and photo opportunities in Seaforth and Goderich, Ont.

O'Reilly, from Brucefield, Ont., attended elementary school and played minor hockey in Seaforth. He put in "a ton of time" training at the Goderich-Huron YMCA.

"Everyone is proud to have me from here, and I'm proud to be from here," said O'Reilly, who included staff from his home arena, Seaforth & District Community Centre, in the Seaforth parade.

Thousands are expected to line the Seaforth, Ont. parade route. (Allison Devereaux/CBC)

As a young player with potential, arena staff opened the doors so O'Reilly could get extra ice time. During his school lunch breaks at St. James Catholic Elementary School, he would borrow a bike or jog to the nearby rink to squeeze in a 30-minute skate.

"Them throwing open the doors for me," he said, "helped me become the player I am today ... It's not just me out there playing and winning. There's a whole community supporting me through everything."

Ryan O'Reilly will bring the Stanley Cup home for two parades in Huron County, Ont. Thursday. (Allison Devereaux/CBC)

While growing up, O'Reilly could be seen training hard at Goderich YMCA, but also rollerblading along long stretches of paved country roads.

"Just kind of working on your game, loving what you're doing, and there's nobody else around for miles," he recalled.

O'Reilly will never forget a surprise rainfall "in the heart of winter," that froze the field beside his family home.

"I remember being on there for a couple hours, skating the whole field, just completely losing yourself and forgetting time," he said.

O'Reilly says the moments connecting him to the area stay with him.

"That's where I was pretending to be those players I now play against," he said.

Former Stanley Cup winners join parade

"I always had it in my mind I was going to be in the NHL," said Larry Jeffrey, of Goderich, who won the Stanley Cup with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1967.

Larry Jeffrey, now 78, at his farm in Goderich. The retired left-winger played for the Toronto Maple Leafs when the team won the Stanley Cup in 1967. (Allison Devereaux/CBC)

He expects the Stanley Cup parades through Seaforth and Goderich will remind him of the Leafs victory parade down Bay Street in Toronto in 1967. 

Now 78, Jeffrey has experienced multiple knee replacements and back surgeries, which he attributes to playing hockey. Despite this, he said he has no regrets.

"If you want to play hockey, leave no doubt that you want to play," said Jeffrey, whose cell phone ringer is the theme to Hockey Night in Canada.

Larry Jeffrey, of Goderich, played with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

When the Detroit Red Wings pulled Jeffrey up from the Western Hockey League in 1961, with eighteen games left in the season, they asked what jersey number he wanted. He picked number 21 – chosen for Highway 21, a road that runs parallel to Lake Huron along western Ontario.

It's the same jersey and number Boyd Devereaux wore more than forty years later, when he won the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002. 

"I was blown away," said Devereaux, remembering bringing the Stanley Cup home to Seaforth, the very parade route O'Reilly will be on.

Boyd Devereaux holds a photo of himself after winning the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002. (Allison Devereaux/CBC)

"Everywhere I turned, there was a face I knew. They were so excited and proud, and I was so happy to give them that chance to celebrate." he recalled.

"I'm excited, it was a whirlwind last time," said Devereaux, now a firefighter with Kitchener Fire Department.

As NHL alumni, he'll be in the parade and signing autographs in Goderich and Seaforth. Devereaux is looking forward to sharing the day with his two daughters, who weren't born when he won the Stanley Cup.

"My name's on that thing, only so many people can say that," said Devereaux, who hasn't seen the Stanley Cup since he won it and brought it home to Huron County.

Devereaux is looking forward to celebrating "Ryan's amazing accomplishment and seeing the joy in his community."

"The Stanley Cup has a magical effect on people," he said.

If you plan on going

Seaforth Parade: 9:30am, Thursday, July 25. Seaforth Area Fire Department to Seaforth & District Community Centre. 

  • Ryan O'Reilly and family 
  • Stanley Cup winners Larry Jeffrey and Boyd Devereaux 
  • Former NHL players Cal O'Reilly (Ryan's older brother), Dave McLlwain 
  • Huron East Mayor Bernie MacLellan, Seaforth & District Community Centre staff 

Seaforth Meet & Greet: 10-11:45am, Seaforth & Distric Community Centre

  • Photo opportunities with O'Reilly and Stanley Cup (no autographs)
  • Autographs with NHL alumni 

Goderich Parade: 1pm

  • Ryan O'Reilly and family
  • Stanley Cup winners Larry Jeffrey, Ron Ellis and Boyd Devereaux
  • Former NHL players Cal O'Reilly, Dave McLlwain 
  • Dave Farrish (coach and scout)

Goderich Meet & Greet: 2 - 3:30pm, Goderich Maitland Recreation Centre (YMCA) 

  • Photo opportunities with O'Reilly and Stanley Cup (no autographs)
  • Autographs with NHL alumni

 

Disclaimer: The CBC's Allison Devereaux is related to Boyd Devereaux.