Hockey fans from across P.E.I., Maritimes, and even Toronto take in celebrations
Even the chance to get upclose and personal with the Stanley Cup isn’t enough to warrant a day off for aspiring hockey stars.
Connor Neill, 9, and Michael O’Brien, 8, followed that rule to a tee in Muuray Harbour on Tuesday during both of their first chance to see the famed trophy in real life.
The two players attending the Andrews Hockey Growth Program, which is where Richards also trained as a youngster, were planning on getting back to training after Tuesday’s noon parade and celebration.
“We’re here for hockey school and trying to get better,” said Neill, of Saint John, N.B. “But we’re here to see the cup too.”
Both Neill and O’Brien, of Halifax, N.S., come to P.E.I. for five weeks every summer in a quest to one day hoist up the cup themselves.
“We want to actually bring the Stanley cup back to our hometown,” said Neill.
Both players also approved of Richards plans with the cup, which included a parade through the town with the cup showcased on top of his father’s lobster boat.
“I’d bring it home and maybe go on a boat with it too,” said O’Brien.
was decked out in hats and jerseys from Richards’ numerous NHL teams, most notably the Tampa Bay Lightning, who he won the cup with in 2004, and Chicago Blackhawks.
Even Islanders who cheer for other teams drove out for the occasion.
Stratford resident Jane Johnston, a Boston Bruins fan, missed the first opportunity to see the cup in Murray Harbour in 2004.
“I’m here just for the fun of it, I follow hockey all the time,” said Johnston. “I watched all of the Stanley Cup and followed him (Richards) right along through.”
Some spectators came from even further.
Toronto sisters Emily, 14, and Jillian MacAulay, 11, said they’d be hard-pressed to get a closer encounter the cup.
“We can’t see it in Toronto because they (the Leafs) never win it,” said Jillian, who was holding a sign with her sister reading ‘ couldn’t see the cup in Toronto, had to come to P.E.I.’”
The two are visiting family in P.E.I. and the celebration was too much to pass up.
“It’s not going to be there (in Toronto) anytime soon, we figured we’d see it here instead,” said Emily with a laugh.
For many residents of the town, the cup took a backseat to Richards.
“Good luck in Detroit next year,” yelled one resident while Richards and the cup drove by.
“Nice assists,” yelled another,
“It’s not going to be there (in Toronto) anytime soon, we figured we’d see it here instead.” Toronto resident Emily MacAulay
referencing Richards’ two plays in the final that helped clinch the championship.
“Thanks,” said Richards, who wasted no time in sharing the trophy with the group of kids that swarmed him when he got off the boat. “Touch it guys, if you want,” Neill and O’Brien said they were hoping to touch the cup, but were hesitant after hearing about the superstition of “if you touch it, you’ll never win it.”
“Oh, then I’m not gonna touch it,” said Neill before pondering for a second. “That didn’t happen to Brad Richards though.”
Minor hockey players Connor Neill, from left, and Michael O’Brien meet NHL star Brad Richards and the Stanley Cup during Tuesday’s celebrations in Murray Harbour. While the two aspiring NHL’ers were hesitant when asked if they would touch the famed trophy, both took up Richards on his offer.