Much of Canada is cheering on the Winnipeg Jets to bring home the Stanley Cup to Canada for the first time since 1993.
I am also cheering on Winnipeg but it is so that the Stanley Cup can come to my hometown in British Columbia for the first time since 2009.
Jets goaltending coach Wade Flaherty is from my hometown of Terrace, BC. No one from Terrace has ever won the Stanley Cup, though the Cup visited nine years ago when the city was named as the Kraft Hockeyville winner.
It has been a long road for Flaherty. He bounced all over the minor leagues throughout his long career, enjoying his best years with the Manitoba Moose later in his career. He got into 120 NHL games, most notably with San Jose and the New York Islanders, and backed up many more. He even played in China.
He has been a goaltending coach since hanging up the blocker and mask in 2009. He was with Chicago when they won the Stanley Cup in 2010, though he never got his name on the Cup that time.
Should the Jets win the Cup, one would have to assume Flaherty would get his name on the Stanley Cup this time. He has played a big role in the success of young Jets goaltending phenom Connor Hellebuyck. The 2018 Vezina Trophy finalist has looked unbeatable in these playoffs. Should the Jets get to the final, he has to be a strong candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, though Jets' star forward Mark Scheifele would be the favorite at this point
When the Jets head to Vegas for game three, Flats will undoubtedly visit Vegas season ticket holder Jeff Sharples, assuming he's in town. Sharples and Flaherty were teammates together in the long gone IHL with Kansas City and Utica back in the 1990s, and well before that were minor hockey stars and boyhood friends here in Terrace.
Sharples, who played several years with the old Las Vegas Thunder is now an airline pilot for Alaska Airlines and he has lived in Vegas for years now. Sharples is a former teammate with coach Gerard Gallant when both were breaking in with the Detroit Red Wings and is well connected with the Knights, but the childhood bond with Flaherty lasts forever.
Whether they talk about home directly or not in that meeting you know both will be thinking back to childhood dreams and the journey that took them to the NHL. And maybe the next time they will meet will be back at the old Terrace Arena.