Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 26
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The second that Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia is mentioned, hockey fans instaneously think of one person - Joe DiPenta, the first player to take the Stanley Cup there when he arrived with hockey's most cherished prize on Thursday, August 9.

Although born in Barrie, Ontario, DiPenta grew up in Cole Harbour and played his first hockey there. When it came time to make his plans for the Stanley Cup, there was no doubt where Joe was going to take it.

Joe fretted for several days, struggling with sleep as he worried about his day with the Cup. "I just worried that something was going to happen, that the flight was delayed or something and the Cup wouldn't show up on time."

All went as planned. The Stanley Cup arrived in Halifax late on Wednesday, August 8. Halifax International Airport is quite a bit north of the Nova Scotia capital, and it took almost half an hour to drive from the airport.

At 7AM on Thursday, August 9, Joe greeted the most beautiful trophy in the world — the Stanley Cup. Safe, polished and ready for celebrating, Joe took the chalice to Halifax's IWK Health Centre. "I think the kids will think the world of seeing the Stanley Cup," he predicted. "That will be a great part of my day."

The youngsters were thrilled to have a real, live hockey hero in their midst, especially one carrying the Stanley Cup. DiPenta greeted each one enthusiastically, and was rewarded for his benevolence with gigantic grins and hooting and hollering. Joe gradually made his way to the auditorium, where he signed autographs and posed for pictures.

Joe got the chance to visit his grandmother at her retirement home, an opportunity that he insisted be built into the day.

The Cup then was steered to a reception at Dartmouth Crossing, where a reception was held, including the requisite photos and autographs. After two years attending Boston College, Joe returned home to play junior with the QMJHL Halifax Mooseheads in 1999-2000, so came highly regarded by all the local hockey fans who had followed the career of one of the area's favourite sons.

Joe Dipenta and cast members of the Trailer Park Boys (a popular Canadian television series based out of a fictional trailer park near Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia) pose with the Stanley Cup. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)

The parade was exceptional, with hundreds and hundreds cheering Joe on as the long procession wound through the streets of Cole Harbour. The procession, which included local hockey-playing youngsters aboard a pirate ship, began at 1PM from Caldwell Road Elementary School and proceeded down Caldwell Road. The route veered off into a residential area, passing by the Evelyn Wood Place home in which DiPenta was raised. "This is the exact street where we played ball hockey," laughed Joe. Fans ran alongside the car in which Joe rode with the Stanley Cup, snapping photographs and chanting his name. The procession then snaked down to Cole Harbour Road and up Forest Hills Parkway to Cole Harbour Place, where Joe played his minor hockey.

A colour guard led DiPenta through thousands of onlookers into the arena, where a permanent display, utilizing his jersey and a collection of his hockey photographs, was unveiled in his honour.

Premier Rodney MacDonald presented Joe with a proclamation. Earlier, Halifax mayor Peter Kelly had proclaimed August 9 'Joe DiPenta Day' in the Nova Scotia capital.

Former NHL star Cam Russell was conducting a hockey school at the rink, and Joe took the Stanley Cup over to the attending youngsters, reminding them that dreams DO come true. "It's cool to be able to show the kids that I was like them one time, and now I've got the Stanley Cup back here in Cole Harbour."

Joe thoroughly enjoyed the public's reaction to his return with the Stanley Cup. "This is my hometown and I hold it near and dear to my heart," he said. "We have a wonderful community here, and they sure showed it today! The turnout was amazing. It's pretty special. It's a dream come true."

After such a public reception, it was time for DiPenta to enjoy a private party, which he did at the Canard Centre in Halifax. Two hundred of Joe's friends and family, including his Dad Barry, Mom Judy and wife Jessica, celebrated the Ducks' Stanley Cup win. Also there were TV's zany Trailer Park Boys. Both Ricky (Robb Wells) and Julian (J.P. Tremblay) hail from Cole Harbour, and as huge hockey fans, wouldn't miss the opportunity to party with DiPenta and the Cup.

Once the party wound down, Joe took the Stanley Cup and a few good friends back to the hotel, philosophizing and reveling in the moment until the crack of dawn. He laughed as he talked about Cole Harbour's other hockey hero. "I did one interview through all of the playoffs, and we went all the way to the finals," he started. "And the story wasn't even about me. Somebody found out I was from Cole Harbour and they asked, 'Do you know Sidney?'" The room broke out in guffaws. But there is no animosity between the two. It was clearly Joe DiPenta's moment in the spotlight. Even at the NHL Awards last June, Sidney Crosby had congratulated Joe on the momentous victory for Cole Harbour. And magnanimous Joe DiPenta returned the favour — he brought the Stanley Cup home to Cole Harbour just in time for Sidney's twentieth birthday!

* * *

Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kent Huskins (left) shows off the Stanley Cup to his proud parents in his hometown. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Friday, August 10 belonged to Kent Huskins, the Ducks' young rookie defenseman who hails from Almonte, Ontario, a historic town not far from Ottawa. Almonte is best known as the birthplace of James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, but after Kent made his NHL debut with the Ducks this season, Almonte became much more of a hockey town. Kent contributed to Anaheim's Stanley Cup victory over the Senators, much to the dismay of the local fans from Ottawa.

Handed the Stanley Cup at 10:30 that morning, Huskins took the trophy to his parents' home where professional photographs were taken. Kent's mother Bonnie and father Les couldn't have been more excited for their son.

A public celebration was scheduled next, so Kent took Lord Stanley's legacy to an area where a tent had been erected in the field behind Almonte's Civitan Hall. Kent witnessed an incredible turn-out, as he shared the Cup with almost 1,500 fans during the memorable afternoon. While there, Huskins spent time with a local sledge hockey team and a minor hockey team.

Huskins and members of the local sledge hockey team nicknamed the "Bandits" gather for a photo with hockey's top prize in Almonte, Ontario. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)

After the photos and autographs had thoroughly exhausted Kent, Al Lunney, the mayor of Mississippi Mills, presented the local Stanley Cup champion with the key to the city. "It's the first time the Stanley Cup has ever been to Almonte, to Mississippi Mills," declared Mayor Lunney, adding, "It's the first time we've ever presented a key to the city to anyone!"

The family stopped next for a barbecue with friends at the Kintail Conservation Area, a picturesque area not far from Almonte.

Kent Huskins and the Cup at the Mill of Kintail Conversation Area between Almonte and Packenham. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
The evening had been reserved for a bit more of a party atmosphere. The Cup was taken to Naismith's Sports Pub in Almonte, then two busloads of friends from Almonte traveled to Ottawa with a celebration at Grace O'Malley's.

"It was a full day, and one for the memory bank," smiled Kent. "It was great to see that kind of support from the community. This was awesome!"

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We'll flip the pages of the Stanley Cup Journal and return on Tuesday with entries from Shawn Thornton, Ric Jackman and Brad May. Don't miss it if you can!

Kevin Shea is one of the contributors to 'Travels With Stanley' by The Keepers of the Cup, a book of geography and history lessons taught through the travels of the Stanley Cup (Fenn Publishing).

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