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2009-07-21 at 15:27

Fans flock to see Jordan and Cup

By Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch
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The victory is so fresh that Jordan Staal’s name has yet to be etched on the Stanley Cup.
That will come in time.

Name engraved or not, on Tuesday nothing was stopping the Pittsburgh Penguins pivot from parading the holy grail of hockey throughout his hometown.

Staal, who got the Cup from Hockey Hall of Fame officials on Monday night, began his official day with the trophy stopping by Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, then enjoyed a frantic two-hour visit with nearly 2,000 fans at Fort William Gardens.

For the final public event of the day, he will throw the first pitch at Tuesday night’s Northwoods League all-star game at Port Arthur Stadium.

Staal, the second of four hockey-playing brothers to bring the Cup home to Thunder Bay, could hardly believe the outpouring of support, especially as fans snaked their way through the iceless Gardens floor. Some waited more than two hours for a brief connection with their hockey hero.

"It was amazing," said Staal, one of the NHL’s best two-way forward, who shut down the opposition’s top attackers all season long and still managed to produce 22 goals and 49 points in 82 games. "When I started I thought I’d make some kind of dent (in the crowd), but it just seemed like it kept coming, with more and more people. It was obviously great to see the support that I have here and it’s really neat to share it with the fans."

The sea of eager fans wound its way out of the Gardens and well down Vickers Street at one point, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by the third-year veteran.

"It’s crazy. I never really expected that at all. I was really hoping to get through everyone and it definitely didn’t happen. It’s just another sign of how much Thunder Bay loves hockey and they love Stanley, I guess," he said.

And they also loved the second-youngest Staal brother.

Lanette Nelson and her family, who over the years have encountered the first family of hockey at Shebandowan Lake, drove 12 hours from Chicago just to line up and have a picture taken with their hockey hero.

Nelson said her family applied for their passports last year, but when the Penguins lost to Detroit in the final, decided not to come.
Not so in 2009.

"This year we paid the $400 to get our passports to come and when we got word, we came up Sunday," Nelson said.

Penguins fan Seamus Heaney said the Red Wings didn’t stand a chance against the likes of Staal, who he said shut down star Henrik Zetterberg to help sway the series in Pittsburgh’s favour.

"It was awesome, completely awesome," he said of his brief moment with Staal. "This is my first time being with the Cup, so it’s incredible, absolutely incredible."
Meanwhile Heaney’s friend, Bradley Jarvis, an admitted Toronto Maple Leafs fan, is glad for second chances.

"I watched the whole series, and it was amazing," Jarvis said. "I was just surprised I could be here. I missed it when Eric (Staal) brought it, but I’m not missing it this time."

Not everyone was there to see Staal, whose brothers shied away from the morning events and planned to celebrate privately with friends and family later in the day. Father Henry and mother Linda were at the Gardens, as well as Jordan’s girlfriend. Yes, sorry ladies, he’s taken.

That’s OK with Ashley Dumoulin, who stood in line for hours, but had another Penguin star in her thoughts.

"Just seeing the Stanley Cup (was awesome). And I’m a big fan of Sidney Crosby too, and knowing that he’s kissed the Cup, it’s a big deal. It’s not all about Jordan," she said, smiling.

Young and old alike were out for a peek at the trophy, first awarded in 1892, a gift of Lord Stanley of Preston.

Seven-year-old Alexander Orpel, a little overwhelmed at meeting his first NHL player, has definite plans for the picture he got of himself and the Cup.

"It was great, because I got to take pictures of it and I’m going to get a photo for my mom to frame it in my room," the youngster said.

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fan says:
What a credit to his family, himself, and Thunder Bay...congratulations Jordan and many thanks for for being a positive role model in a world that needs examples of hard work, honesty and integrity.
7/21/2009 8:24:46 PM
MrT says:
This it is great to see the cup come to Thunder Bay! What an honor for the city! :)
7/21/2009 9:43:35 PM
mysterybuff says:
Where is the sign outside the City saying "HOME OF THE STAAL BROTHERS - STANLEY CUP WINNERS" - when tourists drive through Thunder Bay, they should know we have the best hockey players in Canada, right here in Thunder Bay.
7/21/2009 11:33:08 PM
tbayer says:
I think Oliver Paipoonge has beat Thunder Bay in claiming the Staal's by adding "Home of the Staal Brothers" to their sign.
7/22/2009 9:58:10 AM
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