Stanley Cup pays visit to P.E.I.
Charlottetown native Andy O’Brien of the Pittsburgh Penguins shares his day with the Stanley Cup
Members of the North River Fire Department get their picture taken with the Stanley Cup on Tuesday at Island Hill Farm in Warren Grove. Andy O’Brien, director of sports science and performance with the Pittsburgh Penguins (pictured with his arm around the Cup) decided to spend part of his day with the trophy with athletes from P.E.I. Special Olympics at the farm, which is co-owned by his cousin, Flory Sanderson.
Charlottetown native Andy O’Brien knew when he brought the Stanley Cup to P.E.I. this summer he wanted to do something special with it.
So, the director of sports science and performance with the Pittsburgh Penguins arranged to spend a few hours on Tuesday with the Summerside Boys and Girls Club and athletes and family associated with Special Olympics P.E.I. at Island Hill Farm in Warren Grove, co-owned by his cousin, Flory Sanderson.
“I think I had done an event a few years back with Special Olympics and I thought it was a great organization and (I was) just really inspired by those athletes in all that they’ve done to overcome,’’ O’Brien told The Guardian after about 55 athletes and countless family members all had their picture taken with O’Brien and the Cup.
“I wanted to share the Cup with one of the local charities and thought that would be a great one.’’
The gesture went over well with P.E.I.’s Special Olympians.
“I felt happy that I got to see the Stanley Cup,’’ said Morgan Lubliek, who competes in bowling, bocce ball, basketball and swimming.
O’Brien, enjoying his second Cup with the Penguins, also took the trophy over to Andrews Hockey school in Charlottetown and to the Andrews Lodge senior’s home.
The idea of bringing the Cup to Island Hill Farm started minutes after the Penguins won the National Hockey League’s storied trophy.
“We sent him a picture of a table his grandfather had given us as a wedding present and said the Cup would look fantastic on it,’’ Sanderson said. “Andrew came out for a visit and said ‘yes, we’ll do this and invite the Special Olympics to come and join us’.’’
The Summerside Boys and Girls Club was already booked in for a visit to the farm. While Sanderson closed the farm to the public for a couple of hours on Tuesday, she honoured the club’s visit but didn’t tell them there was going to be a special guest there.
“They had no idea, so it was a nice surprise for them,’’ she said.
O’Brien’s day with the Cup started when he received it at his parent’s cottage in Stanhope.
“I wish I could bring it around to everybody, but it’s such a short day. You have to make the most of it.’’
It goes without saying O’Brien would love to return with the Stanley Cup a year from now.
“I’ve had several players tell me that when they win it, it just reinforces them wanting to win it again. Having been a part of that and seeing what it means to the players on the team, the families and people in the community — it definitely inspires you to keep going, so hopefully (the Penguins) can build on what we’ve done here the last couple of years.’’
P.E.I. Special Olympics athlete Morgan Lubliek, left, of Tarantum poses with the Stanley Cup on Tuesday at Island Hill Farm in Warren Grove. Andy O’Brien, director of sports science and performance with the Pittsburgh Penguins, said his goal was to share his day with the Cup with at least one charity.