Cup's coming to Ottawa

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

ANAHEIM -- The Senators lost, but the Stanley Cup is still coming back to the Ottawa Valley this summer.

Almonte's Kent Huskins will be hosting a party with Stanley as the honoured guest sometime soon.

"I think our backyard might be a little bit on the small side for hopefully the number of people who will come and share it with me," said the Ducks defenceman, champagne dripping from the bill of his "Stanley Cup Champions" cap in the Anaheim dressing room as the bubbly sprayed about the room Wednesday night.

"I haven't had much time to think about it, but I hope wherever I have it, as many people will come out as possible."

"I will for sure (bring the Cup to Ottawa)," said Ducks defenceman Sean O'Donnell, from Kanata, clutching a bottle of champagne in the jubilant atmosphere.

Both O'Donnell and Huskins toiled for years in the minors and had it pay off handsomely with the Ducks' victory over the Senators at the Honda Center on Wednesday night.

Both guys worked their way up through the Central Junior Hockey League, Huskins opting to go the college route in the U.S. and O'Donnell choosing to play in the OHL.

Both wound up living out the dream of just about every Canadian kid Wednesday night.

"Way, way, way back, somewhere in there, I imagined this," said O'Donnell. "I played Central Junior. I just took it step by step. Leaving home to go to the OHL, I thought was a cool thing. Then playing in the minors, I thought if I could make $40,000 or $50,000 a year and do this for 10 or 12 years, that would be a pretty good living. Then I made the NHL. Every step I made was a good experience. Now 15 or 18 years later, whatever it is, here I am.

"You get to a point where you want to hang on and win it," said O'Donnell. "I'm 35 now and you start to really wonder, 'Is it going to happen?' It's my first one and I think I'm going to savour it more because of what I've gone through. It's just been a great experience."

After five years and then some toiling in the minors, Huskins had his breakthrough this season when injuries to O'Donnell and Chris Pronger got him a callup from the American Hockey League.

When the Ducks traded Shane O'Brien to the Lightning, Huskins was on his way to having a spot in the lineup.

"Six years (in the minors), you kind of start to wonder, you start to have doubts if it's ever going to happen," said the 28-year-old. "It definitely paid off for me, coming into such a great lineup, an immediate Cup contender. Playing with such great players helped my game a lot."

When Pronger was suspended for Game 4, Huskins got a chance to give a little more.

"It's nice to have that feeling that you contributed," he said. "Prongs left a huge void in our lineup and I think everybody stepped up in the last game in Ottawa. When you get the opportunity to play with such great players like Scotty (Niedermayer) or (Francois) Beauchemin or O'Donnell...you can credit everybody throughout the lineup."

Both O'Donnell and Huskins wound up in the right place at the right time. They are both stay-at-home defencemen and complemented the Ducks' big three of Pronger, Niedermayer and Beauchemin.

"I've said if you're one of the elite players, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier, you're going to win a Cup," said O'Donnell. "There's a lot of us out there who need to be in the right place at the right time. I think I've earned my spot in this league. I've played with plenty of guys who won one just by being in the right spot at the right time. But there's also plenty of great players out there who haven't won one. I just feel really fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.

"I'm more happy for my parents than anything. They're the ones who made this all happen."

O'Donnell said he was proud the way Ottawa got turned on to the Stanley Cup experience.

"I had friends fly in for Games 3 and 4 from New York and they were amazed at the energy in the city, the energy in the building. I had goose bumps during the Canadian anthem. I was really proud to be from the city of Ottawa and the city of Kanata," he said.

"I always said I hope Ottawa does it soon, just not this year. I wish them all the best next year."

The Senators will have to wait until next year, but Ottawa won't.

Stanley will be coming home to spend part of his summer vacation in the Valley.


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