Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 2010, 27

Dustin Byfuglien brought the Stanley Cup for a ride in his Maserati
Dustin Byfuglien brought the Stanley Cup for a ride in his Maserati. (Howie Borrow/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The only thing tougher than spelling his last name is the route that took Dustin from Roseau, Minnesota to the National Hockey League.

Roseau is in the heart of hockey country; just 10 minutes from the Minnesota/Manitoba border. It's a town of 2,800 that just happens to be pretty good at producing quality hockey players. Roseau is the home of the Broten brothers — Neal, Aaron and Paul — who all played in the NHL. It's also home to Dale Smedsmo, who enjoyed a cup of coffee with the Toronto Maple Leafs and who, ironically, is Dustin Byfuglien's stepfather.

Dustin Byfuglien helping a
young fan hoist the Stanley Cup.
(Howie Borrow/Hockey Hall of Fame)
Dustin had size. He had desire for hockey. Unfortunately, his desire for school was somewhat lacking. But hockey was his salvation. He learned to skate at Memorial Arena at the age of three, and his Mom, Cheryl, had a hard time dragging him off the ice for 12 years afterwards. Dustin figures he skated at the rink five to six hours a day, six days a week.

It paid off.

When Dustin was 15, Cheryl begrudgingly sent him off to Chicago to advance his hockey career. Junior scouts drooled at the big kid with skills and no fear. In his second season with the junior Brandon Wheat Kings, he was traded to the Prince George Cougars. He had to ask, "Where is Prince George? I didn't even know! They pointed it out on a map." There, in 2002-03, he got the icetime he needed to blossom into an NHL prospect. That spring, he was drafted in the eighth round by the Chicago Blackhawks.

Dustin Byfuglien and his grandparents
sharing a moment with the Stanley Cup.
(Howie Borrow/Hockey Hall of Fame)
'Big Buff' (6'4", 250 pounds) made his NHL debut in 2005-06. It seemed as though Chicago wasn't really certain where to play Dustin. He was a big, strong boy with a hard shot who could move the puck, so defence seemed like the right spot, but it was during the 2010 playoffs that Byfuglien found his role. Placed on a line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the big left winger collected 11 goals and 5 assists in 22 playoff games, leading all post-season performers with 5 game-winning goals. He skated, he hit, he scored…and he became a fan favourite.

Nobody was less likely to have gone from living with his Mom in a mobile home behind his grandparents' home, struggling to get the equipment and registration to play the game he so loved, all the way to contributing so fully to his team and, in the process, becoming a Stanley Cup champion.

Dustin Byfuglien and the Stanley Cup ride down Major Avenue North in Roseau, MN.
(Howie Borrow/Hockey Hall of Fame)

Dustin Byfuglien (pronounced BUFF'lin) earned his day with the Stanley Cup on Sunday, August 15, and there was no doubt that he was taking it home to thank his supporters in Roseau.

The Stanley Cup was flown into neighbouring Warroad (Roseau's arch-rivals in hockey) at 11:00AM that morning. Dustin met the Cup with his stepfather, his Mom and former Roseau mayor Bernie Burggraf, and in his Maserati, Dustin drove the Cup to his Mom and stepfather's house. Then, it was over to his grandparents' farm, a 17-acre spread just outside Roseau. It is hard to imagine that anyone could be more proud of Dustin than his grandfather Ken, who owns Byfuglien Trucking, and his grandmother, Crystal. The two were as important as anybody in supporting Dustin through his burgeoning career. Pictures were taken at the farm and everyone enjoyed sipping beverages from the bowl of the Stanley Cup.

Dustin Byfuglien and the Stanley Cup on hand for an autograph and photo session at Memorial Arena in Roseau, MN. (Mike Bolt/Hockey Hall of Fame)
At 2:00PM, a parade made its way down Major Avenue North, led by a firetruck. Dustin rode in a classic red Corvette convertible with the Stanley Cup. The parade concluded at Memorial Arena, where fans from around the state of Minnesota and province of Manitoba gathered to salute the local hero. Mayor Jeff Pelowski introduced Dustin, who entered through the Zamboni entrance hoisting the Stanley Cup above his head, greeted by wild cheers of support.

A backdrop read 'CONGRATULATIONS DUSTIN, 2010 STANLEY CUP CHAMP.' The mayor thanked Dustin on behalf of the populace for bringing the Stanley Cup to Roseau -- it had never before visited the town. Then, Mayor Pelowski read a proclamation that declared the week of August 15 to 21, 2010 as 'Dustin Byfuglien Week.'

Dustin Byfuglien is all smiles and his dog enjoys a treat out of the bowl of the Stanley Cup.
(Mike Bolt/Hockey Hall of Fame)
Dustin was overcome with emotion. He tipped his ball cap but the words stuck in his throat. The big man with the equally big heart finally was able to say, "I'm so proud to bring the Cup back here. Here it is. Hope you enjoy it!"

And that was all that was needed to be said. Byfuglien raised the Cup high over his head as a salute to Roseau and then signed autographs for the thousands who had lined up to get a photo with him and the Stanley Cup. Proceeds from the autograph session were donated to the town's minor hockey program. "All summer I've been waiting to bring it (the Stanley Cup) back here (to Roseau)," explained Dustin. It had been a curious path for him that started at Memorial Arena and now, emotional but satisfied, ended at the same place.

Through the evening, a party for 500 family and friends took place at Ken and Crystal's farm. The two produced Byfuglien Trucking hats and t-shirts for all Dustin's aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and cousins who wore them for the occasion.

Twenty kegs of beer and twenty cases of champagne were brought in for the party, and to no one's surprise, they were emptied by the time the party had concluded. The menu included dogs on a stick and other carnival-type treats.

Dustin Byfuglien and the Stanley Cup strapped into a four-wheeler.
(Mike Bolt/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The Stanley Cup sat on a flatbed truck during the day, but once dusk descended on the farm, it was moved into the barn, where Subplane, a band from Chicago, performed for the party. Their stage was comprised of two semis parked beside each other. Later in the evening, the celebrants enjoyed a fireworks display.

On Monday morning, Dustin took the Stanley Cup to Roseau's Polaris Industries, a manufacturer of snowmobiles, boats, motorcycles, bicycles and campers. They offered four-wheelers to Dustin and his friends to ride, and no one could turn down an offer like that! Dustin strapped the Stanley Cup into a seat and he and his girlfriend, accompanied by other friends, rode the all-terrain vehicles to the Canadian border, where the Stanley Cup straddled the dividing line between the two neighbouring countries, with nary a customs office anywhere in sight. After that adventure, Byfuglien took the Cup to the family's hunting cabin where they enjoyed a quiet pizza dinner.

It had been a remarkable summer for Dustin Byfuglien, packed with emotion. A sensational playoff culminated in his team's Stanley Cup victory. And then, two weeks later, he was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers with Ben Eager, Brent Sopel and prospect Akim Aliu. For Byfuglien, it's hard to leave the Hawks and teammates for whom you'd skate through a wall, but it's the way the game sometimes goes. While getting lost in one final hurrah, deep down, Dustin knew that his Roseau celebration marked the end of an era. But as he has done several times before, he is ready to start a new one, this time, in Georgia.

* * *

Adam Burish takes the Stanley Cup Journal to Wisconsin's Badger Country when we next get together. See you on Tuesday!

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

All Photographs are property of the Hockey Hall of Fame or Getty Images and may not be reproduced without prior written consent. For more information regarding use of our photographs please contact us.
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