Willie Mitchell brings Stanley Cup to northern Vancouver Island hometown
PORT MCNEILL, B.C. - Almost everyone in the tiny northern Vancouver Island town of Port McNeill turned out Sunday to welcome the town's NHL son carrying the Stanley Cup.
Los Angeles Kings defenceman Willie Mitchell came in by helicopter to show off hockey's treasured cup to about 2,600 residents.
Mitchell told the crowd at the local hockey rink that the community of Port McNeill has been very supportive during his long journey through the NHL.
"I dreamed of playing in the NHL and got lucky enough to do that," he said.
"And just like all these kids down here, I played road hockey games and you know what, holy 'S' it's here," Mitch added, carefully editing his language for the children in the room.
Mitchell played for the Vancouver Canucks for several years, but signed with L.A. in 2010 and was a key component of the Kings' penalty-killing unit during the team's Stanley Cup victory over the New Jersey Devils in June.
Mitchell said when he started in the NHL all he cared about was his first goal, and then he just wanted to be considered a regular player.
Only later do you start thinking about winning the Stanley Cup, he said.
"To be lucky enough to do it, with all the great names on (the Cup), I just feel super, super fortunate. And (to have) a chance to share it with the town, and everyone turn out like they have — yeah, it's cool."
The small community is 460 kilometres north of Victoria at the northern end of Vancouver Island. Players on the team that wins the Stanley Cup get one day with trophy.
Mitchell said he was pleased to be able to bring the cup home, to the town that has helped him towards his goals.
"I think it's pretty unique when you're from a small town, especially up here at the north end of the island, it's tough to get to," said Mitchell, who had three points in 20 playoff games. "Most people who came, and that I was taking photo's with, were all faces I recognized."
The Cup is in New Westminster, B.C, on Monday with Kings goaltending coach Bill Ranford, who won two Stanley Cups as a player.