'This is awesome'

Ducks defenceman Kent Huskins brought the Stanley Cup home for a huge celebration in Almonte...

Ducks defenceman Kent Huskins brought the Stanley Cup home for a huge celebration in Almonte yesterday. (Sun Media/Blair Gable)

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

ALMONTE -- It was quite easy to pick Kent Huskins out of the crowd yesterday.

He was the guy with the perennial grin and the shapely little date.

A defenceman with the NHL champion Anaheim Ducks, Huskins had possession of the three-foot, 35-lb. Stanley Cup from 10:30 a.m. until the wee hours of this morning.

And through all the picture posing and touring they did together in his hometown of Almonte and then back in Ottawa, he rarely let the old girl out of his sight.

"It's a full day, and one for the memory bank, for sure," the 28-year-old Huskins said midway through his turn at showing off with the coveted mug. "This is awesome."

The Cup arrived in the capital with its keeper -- Mike Bolt from the Hockey Hall of Fame -- after spending Saturday in Strathroy with Ducks centre Andy McDonald. It was transported to the home of Bonnie and Les Huskins, Kent's parents. There, he and his family had a private photo shoot "with various items around the house," said Huskins.

After that, Huskins and the Cup visited with a local sledge hockey and minor hockey team, then set up under a tent in the back field behind Civitan Hall in downtown Almonte.

Thousands lined up to have their photo snapped with the guests of honour, including fans wearing the logos of the Senators, Habs, Leafs and Bruins, another guy caring a ventriloquist dummy and yet others wearing a specially designed yellow T-shirt. On the front, the words "Kent Celebration Day" surrounded a small Stanley Cup. On the back was a bigger likeness of the Cup under the historic date.

"Lord Stanley's Cup has come to God's country," exclaimed Tracy Holmes, an Almonte native and Montreal Canadiens fan.

KEY TO THE CITY

After the band stopped playing, the barbecue shut off and the lineup finished, Huskins was presented the "key to the city" of Mississippi Mills by Mayor Al Lunney.

"It's the first time the Stanley Cup has ever been to Almonte, to Mississippi Mills," said Lunney. "And it's the first time we ever presented a key to the city to anyone."

Included in the group joining him on stage was his first hockey coach, Tony St. Dennis, as well as his dad and mom, brother Brad and sister-in-law Nicole and their kids, Rebecca and Katie.

ENJOYING HIMSELF

It was clear both then and later -- during the barbecue and more photos at the Mill of Kintail Conversation Area between Almonte and Packenham held for friends and family -- that Huskins was thoroughly enjoying himself.

"I expected a great turnout in Almonte," he said, estimating that he actually knew "probably less than 50%" of the folks that showed up at Civitan Hall. "It was great to see that kind of support in the community.

"A lot of people in Senators jerseys were giving me the gears," he added, "but it was all in good fun."

The day ended with a party at Grace O'Malley's on Merivale Rd. that included two busloads from Almonte, Huskins and the Cup.

"A lot of friends flew in from across North America for this," a beaming Huskins said before the tour's last stop. "The best part of the day? It's hard to single out just one, but I'm sure the party at Gracie's is going to be one for the books."

And well it should have been. It's not every day the Stanley Cup comes to town.


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