NHL

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

This game is child's play

Kids get big kick out of all-star activities

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OTTAWA -- Hockey's most famous trophies, including the Stanley Cup, were pushed down the Rideau Canal as the NHL's All-Star Game festivities kicked off on Thursday.

Sleighs carrying the trophies were pushed by about 200 children urged on by cheers and shouts from the hockey fans who came out to catch a glimpse. The crowd, of about 2,000, was especially loud for Lord Stanley's mug, the last in the procession.

Along for the ride were the Hart Trophy, awarded to the most valuable player in the NHL, and the Conn Smythe Trophy, for the MVP of the playoffs and the Vezina Trophy for the league's top netminder.

"It's a first class event," Shawn Steigemeyer, a student at Carleton University, said of the weekend activities. "It does great things for the morale and pride in this city."

The trophy procession ended indoors at the Ottawa Convention Centre -- site of the fan fair festivities -- led by bagpipers and the Central Band of the Canadian Forces.

After all the trophies were brought in, the Stanley Cup was put in a place of pride in front of a red ribbon in front of the Ottawa salon.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and the CEO of the National Capital Commission, Marie Lemay, cut the ribbon and to formally start the weekend festivities

Fans Sean and Ronan O'Leary said they couldn't wait for the rest of the weekend.

"I want a picture with the Stanley Cup," enthused Ronan, who is five and a big hockey fan, "and to play with the little hockey games here."

Sean said he mostly came because his son loves hockey.

"But we're also going to the game and the skills competition," he said. "We're looking forward to the rest of the weekend."

The fan fair event is expected to draw 30,000 people in the next three days. The number of pre-sale fan fair tickets sold is 29 per cent higher than last year's event in Raleigh, North Carolina, NHL officials said.

Steigemeyer attended the event in Montreal. He said there's no comparison.

"It really puts us on the map as the hockey capital of the world."

By late afternoon the second floor of the Convention Centre was packed with fans of all ages enjoying the carnival atmosphere

-- Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 27, 2012 C2

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