After a half-century of disappointment, even Mother Nature didn’t dare spoil the celebration of St. Louis’ first Stanley Cup championship Saturday.
A morning downpour fizzled to a light rain by the time the parade began, and the sun popped out just as a rally was starting before a massive crowd on the grounds of the Gateway Arch.
The Blues ended one of sports’ longest title droughts Wednesday by beating the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the first for a franchise that joined the NHL 52 years ago.
Local leaders’ expectations of at least a half-million people appeared to be spot on. The long-awaited championship stirred strong emotions in St. Louis, a city still smarting from the departure of the NFL’s Rams in 2016.
“I’m so happy for the city and the fans here,” coach Craig Berube said at the rally. “They deserve it. But more than anything I’m so happy for our players, because of how hard they’ve played, the character and leadership coming through, winning that cup.”
Forward Ryan O’Reilly, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of this year’s playoffs, carried the Stanley Cup to fans to let them touch it.
Rookie goalie Jordan Binnington, known for his calm demeanor, finally let loose Saturday.
“You want to see some (expletive) emotion?” he asked the rally crowd. “We’re Stanley Cup champions, baby!”
Briefly: The Kings bought out the final two years of defenseman Dion Phaneuf’s contract. Phaneuf, 34, had two years left on a seven-year, $49 million contract through the 2020-21 season. He agreed to the deal in Toronto, but has been traded twice since. … The Blackhawks acquired defenseman Olli Maatta from the Penguins for forward Dominik Kahun and a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft.
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