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Boyd's Dream

Devereaux fulfills a lifelong dream, winning Stanley Cup with Red Wings.

Piles of scrapbooks and photo albums are stacked on the kitchen table as Lorraine Devereaux finds her son Boyds Grade 3 wish to become an NHL hockey player.

Here it is-in Grade 1, he wanted to be a policeman and in Grade 2, an artist. But, from Grade 3 on, he wanted to play in the NHL, she says pointing to a school picture of the Stanley Cup winner, then age 8.

Wading through the Devereaux family hockey history in Boyds childhood home in Seaforth, there are scrapbooks jammed with clippings and a living room wall plastered with trophies won by Boyd as well as by his big brother Mike and his little sister Kathy.

While all three of the Devereaux kids (each born 18 months apart) have had success playing hockey - Mike at the university level in Waterloo and Kathy at the university level in Madison, Wisconsin - Boyd, 24, has been able to bring home the Stanley Cup to Seaforth after his team, the Detroit Red Wings, defeated the Carolina Hurricanes in this years playoffs.

He was five when he leaned to skate. He started off as a figure skater and a power skater - thats why hes such a good skater and has excelled. And, he started hockey at the same time, says Lorraine.

They figure skated until Boyd was about 11. When they got to the dance level, they said, Enough, were not going to do twirls, she laughs.

Lorraine says one of the annual highlights for Boyd and Mike while attending St. James Catholic School growing up was playing in the Knights of Columbus hockey tournament.

It was always Easter weekend and it was always a big event. The kids loved it because it was a chance for the kids whod never played hockey to give it a try. The kids whod never even had a pair of skates on before would always try and get the puck to Boyd or Mike or Ted Sills. St. James won a couple of times with real thrillers, she remembers.

Boyds Grade 5 teacher Fran Craig, current principal at St. James, remembers how hard Boyd worked - even at age 10 - to achieve his goal of succeeding at hockey.

I remember very clearly Boyd coming to school in the morning after being on the ice for an hour and half before school but he was always on time, diligent and doing his best, she says.

Craig also remembers how well liked Boyd was at school.

He was also good at baseball, soccer and cross country and of course, everybody wanted to be on his team. She says.

The Devereaux boys grew up playing minor hockey in Seaforth. While Boyd played in his own age group until he was at the atom level (age 10 o 11),. he began playing with teams two years older than him by age 11.

Bill Weber, his coach throughout those year, says that despite the fact that Boyd was always the youngest on the team, he was one of the better players and full of potential.

Boyd was one of the most phenomenal group of kids Ive ever coached. Our team always got to the finals, he says.

Weber remembers that Boyd used to wear Steve Yzermans sweater as a kid and laughs that hes now playing on the same team with his childhood idol.

Hes been able to live his dream this year. Thats pretty rare and must be pretty fulfilling. he says. Roy Gingerich, who coached Boyd at the bantam and midget levels, remembers that Boyds attitude and work ethic were always topnotch.

Boyd always had the big, bright eyes and was socking it all in. He loved being at the arena and he was one of those kids that is so easy to coach. Even though he was playing against older players, he was highly visible and always on the puck, scoring goals. says Gringerich.

Around the same time that Boyd started playing with kids two years older, Boyds father Ken thought it was time to compare his sons skills outside of their home town.

By then, we knew they excelled in Seaforth, but what would happen when they got to London or Toronto? Getting them a trial with a London team was a major effort on my husbands part, says Lorraine.

After a successful try-out with a triple A team in London, the traveling began and Lorraine was constantly on the road taking her boys to hockey games all year round.

We would get up at 5 a.m. and drive Boyd to London for a 7 a.m. practice and then turn around and drive Mike to St. Thomas for a night practice. People thought we were crazy but the kids thrived on it. she says.

During that time, the Devereauxs owned a 1978 Checker Marathon that was built to be a New York taxi with a back seat so big that Boyd, his brother and sister could stand up and change into their equipment on the way to a game.

Those were the days before cans and with three kids and their hockey equipment, a normal car wouldnt do it, says Lorraine.

She says traveling to spring and summer hockey was necessary to give her boys as much ice time as possible.

Kids in the cities are doing 80 games a season, opposed to he 20 to 30 games kids in small towns play each season. We had to compensate with spring and summer hockey.

At 14, Boyd began playing for the Seaforth Junior D Centenaires when he began playing against 18 to 20 year olds. It was physically challenging for him because he didnt have a lot of weight yet but he never backed down, says Gingerich.

Lorraine remembers Boyd starting Grade 9 at 55, 115 pounds and just joining the Centenaires.

He was this tiny, skinny guy playing all these big guys. And he was really nervous about being in the dressing room with all these fully-developed men. It was his worst nightmare, she laughs.

A growth spurt in Grade 10 helped Boyd-he grew to 6 and 175 pounds and at 15, Boyd became the youngest player for the Stratford Junior B Cullitons. His brother Mike, whod been playing on the Centenaires as well was signed by the Cullitons at the same time.

The Cullitons didnt expect to be able to give the youngsters much ice time considering they had so many veterans returning. Now, they cant seem to get them off the ice, says a Nov. 6, 1993 article from The Stratford Beacon Herald.

In 1994, Boyd was named the Cullitons rookie of the year and in the same year, he made a shortlist of 40 from 84 hopefuls to join the Ontario Under 17 team.

In October of 1994, his Cullitons coach Denis Flanagan said in Beacon Herald article that Boyd has such dart-like speed with almost instant acceleration.

He possesses a lot of skills that most players dont get until theyre a lot older. Really, he has the best of both worlds. He has the ability that older players have yet he still has that boyish fever for the game, says the article.

Lorraine says she thinks joining the Cullitons was a turning point for Boyd.

He was young and they (the Cullitons) didnt know a lot about him but they took a chance on him and he really excelled through Junior B. she says

By November of 1994, Boyd was chosen as a member of Team Ontario to represent the province at the Canada Winter Games in Grande Prairie, Alberta.

He also led the Cullitons to the OHA championship during his second year with the team in 1995.

By June of 1995, Boyd was drafted fifth to the Junior A Rangers in Kitchener in the first round.

While Boyd and Mike boarded in Stratford and attended St. Michael the Cullitons, Boyd had to make another move to Kitchener and St. Marys Secondary School when he joined the Rangers.

He had to uproot one more time and go to Kitchener, not knowing a soul, says Lorraine.

He hated to leave St. Mikes and one thing he was really stressed about was who he was going to eat lunch with in the cafeteria. But, on the first day a kid offered to take him to the cafeteria and he ended up thanking that kid during an assembly at the school when they were honoring him, says Lorraine.

The next April,. he won the Bobby Smith trophy as the OHLs scholastic player of the year along with being named the Rangers rookie of the year.

An opportunity to play for Team Canadas Under 18 team in Japan for the Air Canada Pacific Cup in July of 1995 was taken from Boyd by a bout of mononucleosis and swollen spleen.

In June of 1996, Boyd was the first round draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers.

There was a huge pressure at training camp that you have to be better than someone else. Just because youre drafted is no guarantee you have a place on the team, says Lorraine.

While he was sent for brief periods to the Oilers farm team, the Hamilton Bulldogs, Boyd mostly stayed with the Oilers.

He also succeeded in making the Canadian National junior team that summer and was off to Geneva, Switzerland for Christmas, scoring the winning goal for the gold medal.

The hometown fans in Seaforth made a big fuss and Boyd came home that Christmas to a huge banner strung across the front of town hall by his Uncle Bob Carnochain, saying Way to go, Boyd.

But it was also the Christmas when Boyd discovered his biggest fan his grandma Betty Devereaux, was dying,.

His grandma Betty lived on West William Street and was the greatest hockey fan in the world,. She could quote every NHL statistic and had the same birthday as Wayne Gretzky so she called herself, The second Great One, says Lorraine.

She knew Boyd was drafted by the NHL because she watched it on TV at her house. But, when Boyd came back from winning the World Cup, she was too sick to show any enthusiasm and thats when he knew she wouldnt be coming home, she says

During Boyds first NHL game with the Oilers, he received his first concussion from a puck to the head.

That first concussion would foreshadow the second concussion two years later that would threaten to end his NHL career at age 22.

During a game on April 1, 2000 against the Phoenix Coyotes, and with his parents watching on television Boyd suffered a Grade 3 concussion the worst kind after being checked.

He fell on the ice unconscious and went into convulsions.

We were at home watching and it was awful, says Lorraine.

They called us right from the ambulance and told us he was breathing on his own. They almost had to give him a tracheotomy.

And, while an NHL doctor in Chicago told Boyd he would die if he was ever hit again, the Devereauxs consulted a neurosurgeon in Montreal who did a battery of tests and ended up giving Boyd a clean bill of health.

She said she couldnt make any promises but she did every test known to man and photographed his brain left, right, and centre. She called in all her colleagues and they said couldnt find the tear or weak spot that the other doctor had said was in his brain. It was their opinion that the fellow had read the first x-rays wrong, says Lorraine.

Because Boyd had not been feeling any of the symptoms of a concussion such as dizziness and headaches, he had refused throughout his ordeal to believe that his hockey career was over, worrying his parents by refusing to discuss any alternative plans, such as returning to school.

He knew in his heart of hearts that he was okay and he stuck to his guns. Can you imagine our joy when we heard that good news? Boyd was over the ceiling, says Lorraine.

While the Oilers had released Boyd as a free agent, they asked him back after his positive test results, only to be outbid by the Detroit Red Wings in August of 2000.

Boyd signed a three-year $4.6 million deal with the Red Wings, joining his favorite boyhood team and taking the ice with Steve Yzerman, whose poster adorned his bedroom wall in Seaforth.

While Devereaux is not yet the star of the team, he saw lots of ice time during the Stanley Cup playoffs this year, an opportunity Lorraine says hinged on his place in the Brett Hull, Pavel Datsyuk line of two kids and a goat.

Hull liked playing with Boyd. That was a big perk because he didnt want the line broken up. After he (Hull) told (coach) Scotty Bowman that, Boyd never missed a game, she says

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