Lord Stanley is coming to Trail on Oct. 15.
Trail native Craig Cunningham is returning to his minor hockey roots and bringing the Stanley Cup to the Trail Memorial Centre next month.
The Cup hasn’t made a trip to the area since Detroit Red Wings forward Dallas Drake carried the Cup through Rossland in 2008 and Colorado Avalanche forward Adam Deadmarsh shared it with residents at the Beaver Valley Arena in 1996.
As a professional scout with the Stanley Cup champion Las Vegas Knights, Cunningham is sharing his day with the world’s most iconic trophy with the Greater Trail community.
“It’s important for me to be able to share it with the community and I think growing up in the area, all the people that had an impact on you, your life and your hockey career, I want to share it with everyone,” Cunningham told the Times.
The Knights won its first Stanley Cup in its six year history in June, beating the upstart Florida Panthers in five games.
“It was just amazing to be a part of, just to be there, be involved in team building and the journey that involves getting to that point was an awesome learning experience,” said Cunningham. “We were there for the final game and took part in the celebration after. It was an amazing year and amazing night, something you’ll never forget and you feel very fortunate to be a small part of it.”
Cunningham shared the victory with Montrose native Connor Jones and Nelson’s Bruno Campese, also scouts with the Knights franchise. Campese will also make a trip to Nelson with the Cup.
“It’s a pretty cool thing to have, to be able to bring it home and share it with two other people from the same area. We were all together at the (Las Vegas Knights) rookie tournament and we couldn’t stop talking about it, and we are really excited to be able to share it with the community.”
Cunningham skated for the Beaver Valley Nitehawks in the KIJHL at age 15, and the next year he made the jump to the WHL Vancouver Giants winning a Memorial Cup in his rookie season. He spent most of five years there, before finishing the 2010-11 season in Portland with the Winterhawks.
Cunningham was drafted by the Boston Bruins in 2010, and played professional hockey in the Bruins and Arizona Coyotes organizations over the next six years. A tragic and rare health condition cut short his career in 2016, when he went into cardiac arrest during a Tucson Roadrunners pre-game skate. Complications followed which forced his lower left leg to be amputated, and years of rehabilitation.
Cunningham is currently entering his fourth year as a professional scout for the Knights and logs plenty of miles scouting the NHL Pacific Division, as well as the team’s affiliates in the American Hockey League and ECHL, and the WHL. He is on the road for up to 23 days per month, but is enjoying every minute and every mile.
“Ever since I’ve come to Vegas it’s been absolutely exceptional,” he says. “I’ve enjoyed every single day being a part of this organization, and found a new career and set goals for myself now in this profession and opportunity.”
The former Beaver Valley Nitehawks forward is also recently married and lives in Scottsdale, yet, still makes it back to Trail for a visit every summer. The Nitehawks are hoping to retire his jersey along with Cody Franson’s in the near future.
Cunningham and the Stanley Cup will make their appearance in Trail on Sunday, Oct. 15 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the Victoria Room at the Trail Memorial Centre. The public is invited to attend.
“I hope everyone is able to come and take their picture with it, and it will be nice to say hello to a lot of people in Trail,” said Cunningham.