Bringing the Stanley Cup to Southwestern Manitoba’s biggest city has been a homecoming for the Vegas Golden Knights’ general manager.
Kelly McCrimmon was in Brandon Friday to share hockey’s biggest trophy with the city he calls home, although he’s originally from Plenty, Sask.
It was a “pretty amazing feeling,” he said, because it was unveiled at the Keystone Centre, home of the WHL Wheat Kings, a team he coached, managed and finally owned.
“It’s the best trophy in sports, and I think it’s just a great opportunity for people to see,” McCrimmon said. “We’re happy that people do want to see it and they are here, and it’ll be really memorable for everyone today.”
Brandon is McCrimmon’s home, he says. His kids were born and raised in the Wheat City, and he worked with the Wheat Kings for 27 years. He owned the team until joining the Knights in 2016.
Taking home the very first Stanley Cup for Las Vegas was an incredible feeling of pure jubilation, McCrimmon said.
“I don’t think a person’s ever going to get tired of lifting the Stanley Cup,” McCrimmon said. “That’s the chance of a lifetime.”
But then seeing the Knights’ names etched on it brought new joy.
“That’s a really cool feeling, when you look at the Stanley Cup for the first time and see your name on it.”
Brenda Gibson arrived around 6 a.m. Friday to be second among hundreds who lined up to see McCrimmon and get a photo with the Stanley Cup.
Gibson, who volunteered for the Wheat Kings for almost 20 years, said it’s been amazing seeing someone from Brandon with deep ties to the community reach the top of the hockey world.
“Somebody from Brandon is a Stanley Cup champion. That’s a big deal,” Gibson said. “I remember watching the final game and seeing Kelly lift the Cup. I got a big lump in my throat.”
Brandon Mayor Jeff Fawcett, wearing a black and gold Wheat Kings jersey, welcomed McCrimmon and the Cup to Brandon.
“It is as close to the Brandon Wheat Kings winning the Stanley Cup as we can get,” Fawcett said.
“Everybody feels just a little more connected to it because they know Kelly, they’ve shook his hand, they’ve said hello. You know they know who he is.”
Fawcett has known McCrimmon for many years and praised him for not just teaching youth hockey but striving to teach players how to be good community members and teammates.
“We have some exceptional people that have come through his program, and that’s a real kudos to him,” Fawcett said. “Walking around, talking to fans, everyone seems to have some kind of experience with him…. We’re all really proud of him.”
McCrimmon had a few scheduled stops with the Cup, followed by a small party with the trophy, family and friends at his house.
Deep ties to Manitoba
McCrimmon says there are some pretty neat connections between Las Vegas and Manitoba.
On Saturday, Ryan Craig — a five-year Wheat Kings captain who was assistant coach for the Knights — will take the Cup to Onanole. On Sunday, it will go to Oakbank with centre Brett Howden before heading to Winnipeg with captain Mark Stone.
The Cup will return to Manitoba in August, with defenceman Zach Whitecloud taking it to Sioux Valley Dakota Nation.
“When you look at the course of the summer, Manitoba is going to get a good look at the Stanley Cup, which which is awesome,” McCrimmon said.
“We are victorious and we did win the Stanley Cup. I think people are happy.”