There’s an excellent chance the Stanley Cup will return to Colorado this summer.
Too galore direct or indirect Mile High bloodlines and familiar name career are playing in the approaching Cup Final for Lord Stanley’s Cup not to make a visit to the Centennial State in the coming months.
The list begins with Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo, who is from Colorado Springs. Carlo, 22, played youth hockey in the Springs before commutation north to Littleton to join the midget triple-A Colorado Thunderbirds. If the Bruins defeat the St. Louis Blues in the Final — Game 1 is Monday night in Boston — the Cup will certainly spend a day or two in the Springs.
The Bruins besides have Danton Heinen, 23, a junior forward who starred at the University of Denver as a freshman and sophomore from 2014-16. Heinen is a Canadian from Langley, British Columbia, but Denver is where his hockey career took off and where galore of his best friends still reside.
On the Blues’ side, veteran center Tyler Bozak — some other former DU star — lives in the Denver area in the offseason. Like Heinen, Bozak is a Canadian who spent two seasons with the Pioneers before turning pro. If St. Louis wins the approaching series, Bozak might spend a day with the Cup in Denver and some other in his town of Regina, Saskatchewan.
Bozak, 33, is possibly the late-bloomer of all late-bloomers — at least of what I’ve seen in the hockey world. He joined the Pioneers as a 21-year-old freshman in 2007 and became the NHL’s hottest college free agent during and after his injury-plagued sophomore season of 2008-09.
Bozak had 26 NHL teams interested in sign language him at the time. He settled on the Toronto Maple Leafs, with whom he played nine seasons until becoming a free agent last summer and choosing St. Louis.
In his first year with the Blues, Bozak has often played on a line with Jaden Schwartz, the former Colorado College star from Wilcox, Saskatchewan. Schwartz, 26, is St. Louis’ leading scorer in the contests and a steer Smythe Trophy candidate as NHL contest MVP.
Among all players in the postseason, Schwartz ranks second in goals (12) and is tied for third in points (16), and is first and second, severally , among those still playing (Boston’s Brad Marchand has 18 points).
Two prominent former Avalanche members are in the series. St. Louis center Ryan O’Reilly led the Blues with a career-high 77 points in the regular season, and former Avs head coach Joe Sacco is an assistant coach with the Bruins.
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O’Reilly’s first four years in the NHL coincided with Sacco’s four years as Colorado’s coach. O’Reilly produced his career-high 28 goals — matched this season with the Blues — in 2013-14 when Patrick Roy replaced Sacco as the Avs’ head coach.
To my knowledge, the Stanley Cup — the real Cup, not a replication — was last seen in Colorado with a player in 2004, when Tampa Bay Lightning backup goalie John Grahame hoisted it in Denver, his town.
Grahame, the son of University of Denver athletic director Ron Grahame and old Avalanche special assistant Charlotte Grahame, is the second member of his family to have his name engraved on the Cup. His mother’s name is basined with the Avalanche’s 1996 and 2001 Cup-winning teams.