Smiles as big as an empty net

Brad Richards hop­ing for a hat trick parad­ing Stan­ley Cup through home­town

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - THE GUARDIAN sshar­ratt@theguardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/GuardianSteve

They say light­ning never strikes twice — ex­cept in Mur­ray Har­bour.

Home­town hero Brad Richard elec­tri­fied the cheer­ing crowd Tues­day as he pa­raded through the vil­lage with the Stan­ley Cup in tow for the sec­ond time.

Once again, much like the vic­tory lap of 2004 when he won with Tampa Bay, Richards was on board the fam­ily fish­ing boat with fa­ther Glen and mother Delite, and joined by the cup and his new wife Chelle and baby son Luca.

This time he was sport­ing a Chicago Black­hawks jer­sey and a smile as big as an empty net as an es­ti­mated 4,000 peo­ple cheered the ar­rival of the hockey star and the sport’s Holy Grail to the com­mu­nity cen­tre.

There were lo­cals and kids, tourists and dogs, and even Mex­i­can farm work­ers tak­ing in the cel­e­bra­tion un­der cool and cloudy skies.

“I think it’s an ab­so­lutely fab­u­lous day for us all,’’ said store­keeper Otis But­ler from across the road be­fore the pa­rade. “And to think this is the sec­ond time in our lit­tle com­mu­nity…..how lucky can we get…..I just can’t imag­ine if there could be a Num­ber 3.”

That was a thought on the minds of many fans who gath­ered in hockey sweaters wav­ing flags and signs of con­grat­u­la­tions.

Rev. Lon­nie Atkin­son, who could be a stand-up comic, was the event MC and kept the ball rolling from the main stage podium even when the mi­cro­phone sud­denly went dead at the most in­op­por­tune time.

“Thank you Brad for be­ing such a won­der­ful ex­am­ple for Prince Ed­ward Is­land and let’s hope you can bring us back another one in a dif­fer­ent red sweater,” said Premier Wade MacLauch­lan. Baby Luca seemed right at home when fa­ther Brad Richards laced the in­fant in­side the bowl of the Stan­ley Cup to the delight of the crowd Tues­day. The home­town hero’s new son and wife Chelle were warmly

The premier had to shout out his words since the sound sys­tem sud­denly conked out.

Lt.-Gov. Frank Lewis was the first to deal with the mi­cro­phone prob­lem and was cer­tainly less than im­pressed when it conked out four times dur­ing his at­tempt to ad­dress the au­di­ence. Atkin­son at­tempted a fix, but Lewis, like fel­low of­fi­cials wel­comed by the crowd in Mur­ray Har­bour. And, while no one is pre­dict­ing whether Luca will fol­low Dad’s foot­steps, Richards ad­vised the crowd he’d like to make hoist­ing Lord Stan­ley’s mug a hat trick. Cardi­gan MP Lawrence MacAu­lay and MLA Dar­lene Comp­ton, all had to shout al­most in­audi­ble mes­sages.

And just be­fore Richards was called to the podium to speak to the thou­sands gath­ered, some­one came to the res­cue. Phillip Bul­pitt was in the crowd and the sound man from the Kings Play­house scrounged up some new equip­ment to make the fix.

Mo­ments later when Richards took the work­ing mi­cro­phone in his hand, he looked at the of­fi­cial guests on the podium and pro­vided a per­fect dead­pan.

“We just did that to keep your speeches short.”

In hum­ble Richards fash­ion, the hockey hero who just signed a $2 mil­lion con­tract with the Detroit Red Wings, thanked his com­mu­nity and fam­ily for the royal treat­ment and even spec­u­lated on a hat trick.

“When I brought the cup here 11 years ago, I thought, OK, I’ll be back five or six times,’’ he laughed. “Then I found out how hard it is to win this thing….but I’m think­ing about another one.”

The well-or­ga­nized event was a trib­ute to pa­rade man­ager Carol White and the vol­un­teers of the Mur­ray Har­bour fire de­part­ment and pro­vin­cial pub­lic works em­ploy­ees who han­dled the park­ing and safety of such a huge crowd. A con­voy of East­ern School Board busses helped shut­tle fans from freshly cut fields act­ing as park­ing lots to the ex­cite­ment of the noon time pa­rade.

HEATHER TAWEEL/THE GUARDIAN

Ev­ery­one was star­ing in awe and tak­ing pic­tures with cam­eras and smart­phone on Tues­day as the Stan­ley Cup made its pub­lic ap­pear­ance in Mur­ray Har­bour, home­town of lo­cal hero Brad Richards. The 35-year-old cen­tre won his sec­ond NHL cham­pi­onship this past spring with the Chicago Black­hawks.

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