By: Greg Parkington
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the St. Louis Blues erupted off the visitors’ bench in TD Gardens in Boston to celebrate the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in their 52-year history. The Blues won decisive game on Wednesday night by a score of 4-1.
After the celebration had partially subsided, Huron County native Ryan O’Reilly was presented with the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Playoff MVP. O’Reilly had matched Mark Messier as the only player in Finals history to score in all seven games and finished the playoffs tied with Bruins’ forward Brad Marchand with 23 points for the playoff scoring lead. Then, St. Louis Blues’ captain Alex Pietrangelo was presented with Lord Stanley’s Cup.
As the Blues players took turns hoisting the Cup, Knights fans may have noticed a few familiar faces who will become the first St. Louis Blues to have their names etched into the Stanley Cup. The first was St. Louis, native Patrick Maroon. Maroon played one year in the OHL and he spent that year leading the Knights in scoring with 90 points. He joined the Blues this past summer, returning home to St. Louis, after spending the beginning of his NHL career with Anaheim, Edmonton, and New Jersey.
The next former Knight to receive the cup was St. Louis’ 2017 first round pick, Robert Thomas. As the youngest player in the Stanley Cup final, Thomas added another Championship to his already long list of hockey accolades. Thomas was a 16-year old rookie on the 2016 London Knights team that captured the OHL championship and Memorial Cup. Thomas then added a World Junior Gold Medal to his resume at the 2018 tournament with Team Canada before winning another OHL Championship after joining the Hamilton Bulldogs midseason.
After Thomas’ turn with the Cup, another former Knight, Michael Del Zotto, hoisted his first Stanley Cup. Del Zotto was added at the NHL Trade Deadline from the Anaheim Ducks. Del Zotto played half a season for the Knights after being acquired from the Oshawa Generals in what ended up being his final season of junior hockey. He will join fellow Knights alumni Maroon and Thomas on the Stanley Cup as player representation.
The Cup then made its way through the Blues’ coaching staff and management team. London native, Mike Van Ryn, joined the St. Louis Blues this season as an assistant coach got to raise his first Stanley Cup after not doing so in his 9-year NHL career. Lastly, another former London Knight, Tim Taylor, got his chance to raise the Stanley Cup. Taylor, who is the Blues’ Director of Player Development, spent two and a half seasons with the Knights, tallying 226 points over that span. This past season he was also one of the inaugural members of the Don Brankley Hall of Fame.
While London may not be geographically close to St. Louis, the city of London and the London Knights organization were celebrating the successes of these individuals last night.