'Dream come true': Brandon-born St. Louis Blues defenceman Joel Edmundson back home with Stanley Cup
St. Louis Blues defenceman Joel Edmundson helped win team's 1st Stanley Cup in June
It was 26 years in the making, but Joel Edmundson accomplished one of his goals — to bring the Stanley Cup to his hometown of Brandon, Man.
"It's a dream come true. It's something I've always wanted to do. You know, the moment we won the cup I knew I was going to bring it back home," the St. Louis Blues defenceman said Monday.
Hundreds of people travelled from across the province to Brandon, Man., Monday morning to meet Edmundson and see the cup in person. Organizers say at least 4,500 fans showed up at the Keystone Centre to be part of the festivities.
The St. Louis Blues captured their first Stanley Cup in June.
Around mid-January, the thought of winning a Stanley Cup was non-existent for the Blues, who sat dead last in the NHL. But then things started to turn around.
"We went on that 10- or 11-game win streak, and during that stretch I was, like, 'We have a good team,'" Edmundson said.
He says he knew that if his team made it to the playoffs, it would be their championship to lose.
"We're a hard team to beat and if we play our game, no one can really stop us," he said.
'A special place for me'
Throughout the playoff run, Edmundson received countless messages from friends and family in Brandon.
"They've been behind me my whole career, through the WHL, AHL and now NHL — I've had a lot of supporters in the city, and like I said, I wouldn't be in the NHL if it wasn't for a lot of people in Brandon," he said.
When deciding on a location to hold the event, Edmundson knew Keystone Centre was the right spot.
"I spent a lot of hours in this building so it holds a special place for me. It's obviously nice to bring it here," he said.
Edmundson's mother, Lori Edmundson, said she had spoken to other smaller Manitoba cities and towns about crowd size expectations, and was blown away by the response.
"It's kind of surreal. It's unbelievable," she said.
"We knew there'd be a lineup, but when we pulled up it was, like, 'Oh my goodness, look at the people here.'"
Fans came out early to experience the rare opportunity to see the cup, and a Stanley Cup winner.
Faith Burtnick, a 12-year-old hockey player from Rapid City, wanted to be the first at the arena with her family.
"We woke up at about six o'clock, and we came in early just so we can be the first ones," said Burtnick. "It's definitely a huge memory and a dream come true."
'It's a big deal'
For Burtnick, seeing someone make it from a small city has provided some invaluable motivation.
"For a Brandon kid to be here, winning the cup for us, I think it's a big deal," said Burtnick.
For the Schaefer family, who are die-hard Blues fans from St. Louis, it was sheer luck that allowed them to see the cup; they were visiting family in Brandon at the same time the cup landed in town.
"Coincidentally we come to visit every year and this is just awesome, impeccable timing to be here for the cup, thank Joel for the win. It's a good story to bring back home," said Paul Schaefer.
His kids needed no convincing to make the trip to the arena.
When he heard the visits for their visit matched with Edmundson's, "I said, 'There's no way I'm missing seeing the cup,'" said 12-year-old Van Schaefer.
While the Schaefers didn't get the chance to take part in the parade in St. Louis, meeting Edmundson was as big a moment, they said.
"It was kind of a surreal moment. We got to touch the cup, I gave a big hug to Joel — it was a moment I'll never forget," said Paul.
Earlier in the day, Edmundson visited his gym, the CancerCare centre, and a couple of other places before arriving with the cup in his hands.
The Stanley Cup champion planned on celebrating the remainder of the day with friends and family.