The line was long and the sun was glaring down, but hockey fans didn’t seem to mind the wait.
Kids and adults alike from across Central Alberta travelled to Innisfail Monday, for a chance to get a glimpse of the Stanley Cup.
Lord Stanley’s mug made its way to the community as players and staff of the Colorado Avalanche each get their time with hockey’s greatest trophy.
Colorado Avalanche assistant coach Ray Bennett chose to share his day with the Cup with the people of Innisfail where he grew up.
“It’s really super special,” Bennett said.
“We’re only getting started in the day but right from the time that we sort of thought about what we’re going to do it was really a quick and easy decision to bring it back to where I grew up in Innisfail. The town has been unreal in terms of the mayor, the council, and everybody supporting it… and It’s been super fun so far.”
“The real star here is the Stanley Cup and I think it is almost a living entity… I don’t know if that will make sense to people but when you see the Stanley Cup It’s the most perfect, imperfect thing that I’ve ever seen. It’s so shiny and bright and yet It’s full of flaws and It’s really special.”
Bennett spent about four hours in the morning at the arena taking pictures with members of the community alongside the Stanley Cup. Later in the afternoon and evening, he spent time with some close friends and family from the area just enjoying the experience.
Bennett explained getting the opportunity to not only win the Stanley Cup but to bring it back to the community is something he will remember for the rest of his life.
“This is my 23rd year coaching in the NHL and you don’t necessarily chase this dream you just do the very best you can in every season,” he said.
“It’s taken a long time to win so the whole experience right from the beginning of our season this year through to game six when the clock ran down and we won it and now through the summer and having this day with the cup is special.”
During the event, on top of pictures with the Stanley Cup, there was a barbecue, silent auction, and floor hockey games to celebrate the occasion. Organizers just asked for donations for a picture with the Cup which will be split between the Innisfail Minor Hockey Association and the Larry Reid Memorial Coaching Development Fund.
President of the Innisfail Minor Hockey Association Candace Schmidt said the fund supports coach and player development for children across the association.
“That’s a really important fund that we just took over this year that has been in place for several years. It’s great we can have this community event and that Ray’s bringing the Stanley Cup to support the players and coaches of Innisfail Minor Hockey,” Schmidt said.
The fund began in 2017 and provides an annual grant of $3,400 to the association for the cause. Reid also happened to coach Bennett when he played midget hockey in the community.
“Innisfail Minor Hockey is a volunteer association, we support grassroots kids making their way up through development to play either in their community or within other communities,” she said. “Player development is a huge support because we all know with the rising costs of everything It’s hard for families.”