A crowd of close to 600 people were gathered at Western Financial Place on Tuesday, Aug 16, patiently awaiting the arrival of NHL champion Bowen Byram and the Stanley Cup.
Byram brought the Stanley Cup to his hometown to celebrate with friends and family, while also attending a photo-op with the general public.
Byram won the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche on June 26, when Colorado defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.
The Avalanche defenceman says it’s a “great feeling” to bring the cup to his hometown — this being the ninth occasion the cup has visited.
“It’s a lot of fun [to be home],” Byram said at the photo-op on Tuesday. “Growing up and playing minor hockey here — it’s special to have it here and that people in the community get to see it and [I can] chat with some people. It’s been a fun day so far.
“In small towns there are a lot of people who help out with minor hockey. I had a lot of good coaches growing up — just very fortunate to grow up in Cranbrook in such a rich hockey environment.”
Byram himself is Cranbrook’s fifth Stanley Cup winner, joining the company of past winners Scott and Rob Niedermayer, Brad Lukowych and Jon Klemm.
“To bring the cup back home is a really special experience and I’m very grateful that I got to have it this early on in my career,” Byram said. “You never know, maybe I’ll be lucky enough to do it a couple more times.”
Byram says he was fortunate to get drafted by the Colorado Avalanche and that winning the Stanley Cup is a dream come true.
“I definitely knew I was fortunate to get drafted by the Avs — they already had a really solid team,” he said. “They got the pick for me from Ottawa. They made the playoffs that year, and made it to the second round, so I knew I was going to have a chance. Obviously, you never really know — a lot of good teams don’t ever win the Stanley Cup. Growing up you always want to be a Stanley Cup Champion and now that I am, it’s kind of hard to describe.”
Byram had an adverse start to his NHL career, missing almost three months and a string of 32 games because of concussion symptoms. Despite this, he overcame the injuries and proved to be a key contributor on the Avalanche team.
“It was a frustrating couple years, I guess, not playing as many games as I would have liked due to injuries and other things. But I think it was honestly a positive for me to go through that early in my career,” Byram said. “You know, it’s never easy to come back from injuries so I was very fortunate to come back and have a spot in the lineup again. I just tried to contribute any way I could in the playoffs.”
When asked how it feels to lift the Stanley Cup in the air right after the victory, Byram said it’s hard to describe.
“It’s a special feeling, it’s hard to describe to people. You’ve just gone through a really tough couple months and to finally get there it’s almost relief, in some way. There’s a lot of stress and anxiety, whatever you want to call it, throughout the playoffs and throughout the year. Especially when you’re on a team that has a lot of buzz about it. We were cup favourites going into the year — so it’s a relief but it’s also very exciting. It’s hard to put into words.”
He adds that overall it was a great year with many highlights throughout the playoff season.
“There’s a lot [of highlights]. I can think of a lot of moments through the playoffs,” he said with a laugh. “Looking back now, you really wish you could have soaked it in a bit more, but there’s so much going on that it kind of just flashes by.”
Following his photo-op with the community, Byram says he will celebrate with the Stanley Cup alongside his family and friends before the cup moves on to another player.