Hockey’s biggest prize is heading to small-town Alberta.
The hamlet of Calahoo watched as hometown hero Craig Berube hoisted the Stanley Cup Wednesday night as head coach of the St. Louis Blues.
Roger and Ramona Berube host a family BBQ every summer when their son comes back to Calahoo, about 50 kilometres northwest of Edmonton. It’s a tradition going back to the early 1980s when Craig left town to embark on his professional hockey journey.
This year, Craig will be bringing an extra big cup.
“It’s going to be a big occasion for people that know him, I think,” said Roger, standing on the porch of their home in Calahoo.
The family expects the population of 85 to balloon for Craig’s return, even more than it does for his usual visits.
“It’ll put Calahoo on the map,” Roger said.
Craig replaced Mike Yeo as head coach in St. Louis after a poor start to the season. Under Berube’s leadership, the Blues made a storybook turnaround from last in the league to their first NHL championship.
“He must have a way of getting along with people,” said Ramona. “I’m sure proud to see him on TV. It was something very special that he got as far as he did.”
The Blues beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Game 7 on Wednesday.
The baseball diamond in Calahoo was awash in St. Louis Blues hats and phone screens, family said, as people divided their attention between the local baseball game and hockey live streams.
“We feel very blessed as a community, not only family,” said Emile Berube, Craig’s uncle. “Craig is known by everybody around here, even though he’s been gone for 40 years.”
Craig made a career in the NHL as a hard-nosed winger, known for dropping the gloves more than scoring goals. He played for 16 seasons, including a two-year stint with the Calgary Flames.
And it all started at the local Calahoo arena.
“He was never the best player on the team, but he had the biggest heart,” said Emile, standing in the arena where he once coached his nephew.
“And that big heart got him to where he is today.”
Ken Berube grew up playing hockey alongside his cousins. He is one of many Berube’s that call the Calahoo-area home.
Ken brought his kids to St. Louis for games three and four of the Stanley Cup finals.
He said he never thought his family name would be engraved on the Stanley Cup, etched into hockey history.
“It’s starting to sink in now,” Ken said.