WINKLER — The Stanley Cup made its second trip to Winkler in six years on Friday, and the ol’ mug did it in style — again.
Hockey’s most-cherished trophy arrived here via a stretch limo Friday afternoon and was escorted in to The Southland Mall to a rousing cheer by hundreds of fans, some of which had gathered for three hours for an up-close visit with the giant silver piece of history.
One of those fans was Christine Giesbrecht of Steinbach, who rented a hotel room in Winkler Thursday night in order to be near the front of the line.
"I just wanted to see the Stanley Cup and this isn’t that far from my hometown," Giesbrecht said. "It’s like a piece of history and I’m a diehard hockey fan. To get the chance to see it in person and to see all the legends names on there is pretty important to me. I went to Winnipeg two years ago when Jonathan Toews (of the Chicago Blackhawks) brought it and I’m going to take every chance I can to see it whenever I can.
"It’s like I’m in shock and awe when I see it... it’s the greatest trophy in sports."
Penner, who first brought the Cup to Winkler in the summer of 2007 after winning it as a member of the Anaheim Ducks, was sporting his familiar No. 25 white Los Angeles Kings jersey. Having already had his high school jersey retired and been awarded the key to the city in 2007, Mayor Martin Harder this time declared Friday, August 17th, 2012 ‘Dustin Penner Day.’
"It’s great to be back in Winkler and see all these familiar faces," Penner said. "Last time I was here I went to the hospital and went to see both sides of my family. This time, I wanted to do something different and get a different experience and view of it."
The day started off with Penner and family friend Art Paetkau, a local pilot, flying from Winkler to Yorkton, Sask. to pick up the Cup from Kings’ teammate Jarret Stoll. Penner then visited his grandmother with the cup and played golf with 12 relatives friends — and Stanley — before arriving at the mall in the afternoon.
"This feels good," said Penner. "I didn’t get to see as many people last time because it was really hot inside the rink (the site of the Cup’s last visit) and I suffered from a bit of heat stroke. I actually had to get IV fluids... I’m a lot more together this time and it’s not so stressful and it’s a more relaxed atmosphere for me.
"I’m enjoying it more. Last time it was the first time I had won it and you wanted to do so many things and you had so many requests and you wanted to make everybody happy. I ran myself ragged trying to do that. I wanted to do a few key things, a couple key things on the Stanley-Cup diet, and then spend more personal time with him. I kind of neglected him last time."
After today the Cup travels to Kenora, home of Mike Richards — Penner’s teammate with the Kings. Richards has a private party planned with 120 people aboard the M.S. Kenora.