Beaming faces flanked the fabled Stanley Cup inside the O’Fallon Station on Wednesday afternoon, as word spread quickly the National Hockey League championship trophy was on display during its Illinois Day tour.
The reigning champion St. Louis Blues organization brought the trophy, with its 96-year-old history, to the metro-east to celebrate the hockey team’s historic victory in June, 52 years in the making.
Both old and new fans lined up for a chance to see the silver trophy engraved with the names of players, coaches, management and staff of the winning teams after each championship. The Blues’ names were engraved in Montreal and returned in time for the season opener Oct. 2.
Phillip Siddle, Blues executive vice president and chief financial officer, grew up in Belleville — his mother Marilyn Siddle was the proprietor of Marilyn’s Pie Pantry — and has lived in O’Fallon since 1996. Siddle, a 1987 graduate of Belleville East High School, said after last season, the organization is thrilled with its accomplishments.
“It’s still unreal. I’ve been with the organization 25 years, been through a lot of ups and downs. I’m so proud. It’s a great organization to work for,” Siddle said.
He was part of the all-day caravan that started at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center, then went to Scott Air Force Base, on to O’Fallon, and afterwards, was to stop Eckert’s in Belleville, Glen Carbon, Edwardsville, and the final place, Fast Eddie’s in Alton. (To follow where the Cup is, people can download a cellphone app, “Where’s the Cup?”)
“We wanted to make sure Illinois got its time too. We’re proud to put in on display,” Siddle said.
Illinois Day for the Cup
Illinois Day was the final day for the Blues’ Cup tour, which began soon after captain Alex Pietrangelo hoisted the Stanley Cup after the Game 7 win 4-1 over the Boston Bruins on June 12. It first made the rounds in St. Louis, then Las Vegas, and back to St. Louis — going to bars, Busch Stadium, the Muny, the Anheuser-Busch Brewery and other places during the two weeks prior to an annual world tour, spending one day with every member of the Blues championship team this past summer.
The Greater O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce was having a luncheon in the downtown pavilion when O’Fallon Mayor Herb Roach announced the royal visitor.
“I think it’s fantastic and another great opportunity for the city,” Roach said.
Debbie Arell-Martinez, the chamber director, said some chamber members helped with cell phone snapshots and crowd control.
“Mayor Roach really outdid himself. What a treat!” she said.
Jackie Roach, who is married to alderman Todd Roach and is the mayor’s daughter-in-law, works as the director of corporate partnerships for the Blues. She estimated about 300 people were able to get photographed next to the trophy.
“I’m excited that the Blues allowed O’Fallon residents to see and touch the trophy,” she said.
Amber Huffmon of O’Fallon brought her 2-year-old daughter, Laila Johnson, for a photograph.
“I think it’s amazing! She was our little lucky charm — if we put her in front of the TV, they scored right away,” she said about watching the playoffs.
Laura Sondag of Belleville brought her two young sons, James in a Blues T-shirt and William in Cardinals garb. She was happy they had this opportunity.
“My dad died last (Oct. 3), and I told my mom we had to come up here. He was a big hockey fan. We watched hockey together,” she said. “I think it’s great the fans who supported the team get a chance to see it.”
Alderman Ross Rosenberg, who was one of several city officials on hand, said he was very appreciative of the NHL and the Blues for bringing it to the city.
“O’Fallon is a proud supporter of St. Louis sports teams, and this is great,” he said.
About Lord Stanley
The Stanley Cup is named after Lord Stanley, who was the 1892 Governor General of Canada. He purchased a decorative cup in London for 10 guineas, which would have been about $50 at the time, then donated the Cup to award the top amateur hockey club in Canada. He and his family became fans of the sport after seeing it played at the 1889 Winter Carnival in Montreal. That trophy, known as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, was awarded until 1970.
Today, a “Presentation Cup” is given out, and can be authenticated by the Hockey Hall of Fame seal on the bottom. The Blues names are expected to stay on the trophy for 64 years, when that ring is removed to make room for more winning teams. Each team is allowed 52 names to be engraved.
For the first time in franchise history, the St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup Finals in 16 games, defeating the Winnepeg Jets, Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks and Boston Bruins in the playoffs. The Blues were an expansion team formed in 1967.