London celebrates local connections as St. Louis Blues win Stanley Cup

The London area had plenty to celebrate as the St. Louis Blues won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history on Wednesday night in Boston.

Geographically, London’s location in southwestern Ontario has led to many local hockey fans having allegiances to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings.

But with both teams long since eliminated, fans have been able to cheer on the St. Louis Blues and players with London connections throughout the playoffs.

On Wednesday night, a handful of former London Knights became Stanley Cup champions for the first time.

Robert Thomas, the youngest player in the final, has already won two OHL Championships and a Memorial Cup during his career. Thomas is also the first player ever to play in the Stanley Cup final one year after winning an OHL title.

Patrick Maroon is another notable former London Knight. The St. Louis, Mo., native joined his hometown team in the off-season. Maroon played just one season with the Knights, scoring 35 goals and 90 points during the 2007-08 campaign.

There’s no shortage of players who grew up in the London area, either.

Ryan O’Reilly, who grew up in Huron County and went to elementary school in Seaforth, has been one of the biggest storylines for the Blues this post-season, leading the team in scoring with 21 points.

Behind the Blues’ bench, London native Mike Van Ryn is in his first year as an assistant coach after previously coaching in the American Hockey League and the OHL.

Van Ryn played with the Blues and also suited up for the Florida Panthers and the Toronto Maple Leafs during his NHL career.

Knights fans will also remember Tim Taylor, who tallied 226 points in two and a half seasons in London and is now the Blues’ director of player development.

Doug Armstrong, who grew up in Sarnia, is the Blues’ general manager and president of hockey operations.

Michael Del Zotto joined the Knights midway through the 2008-09 season. He did not play a game during this year’s post-season, however Del Zotto played in Vancouver and Anaheim earlier this year before joining the Blues.

The local connections don’t end there: despite being eliminated in the Western Conference finals, San Jose Sharks forward and London native Logan Couture led all playoff scorers with 14 goals.

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