SURREY, B.C. – It wasn’t exactly how they’d hoped to see the Stanley Cup come home, but hundreds of British Columbia hockey fans lined up for hours Wednesday to get a glimpse of the sport’s ultimate prize.
Colin Fraser, who was a member of last season’s cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks team, brought hockey’s Holy Grail to his hometown of Surrey.
Fraser couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of celebrating the Blackhawks win in B.C., since much-hated Chicago has knocked the Vancouver Canucks out of the National Hockey League playoffs each of the last two seasons.
“I’ve got to apologize to all the Canucks fans for beating you guys,” he said to laughs and groans from the audience.
Fraser grew up in Surrey’s Fraser Heights neigbourhood and played his junior hockey in Red Deer, Alta., before being drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers.
He was then traded to the Chicago Blackhawks and the 25-year-old played 70 regular season and three playoff games with the team last season.
Fraser was traded to the Edmonton Oilers late last month and confessed it felt a little odd Wednesday to celebrate the championship since he’s no longer a Hawk.
“It’s weird. Bottom line though, I did win it with the Blackhawks and now you can move forward,” he told reporters.
Fans lined up to get Fraser’s autograph four hours before the event, despite the hot weather.
Fraser received boisterous cheers, especially when he lifted the cup over his head. He was surrounded by fans everywhere he went, each of whom wanted to snap their own image of the trophy.
Dwight Kilbach, 52, smiled from ear to ear after meeting Fraser, who he described as “really cool” and a “nice guy.”
Kilbach showed up for the event sporting a large Blackhawks tattoo on his left arm and carrying some old team photographs.
“He said, ‘You’re a real fan,'” Kilbach said of Fraser.
Others, however, had little interest in seeing the Surrey native.
“He’s a Blackhawk, he’s also an Oiler now. I could care less that he’s here, but I still want to get close to the cup,” said Shaun Sanghera, wearing a blue Canucks T-shirt.
Fraser said he was well aware what many of the fans came to see.
“I’m not the show, the cup’s the show,” he said.
Chicago’s championship team featured several B.C. boys who will bring the cup to their hometowns this week, including star defenders Brent Seabrook of Tsawwassen and Duncan Keith of Penticton.