Smiles as big as an empty net
Brad Richards hoping for a hat trick parading Stanley Cup through hometown
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.
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.