ANTIGONISH – He’s an Antigonisher, St. FX alum, former X-Men hockey player and two-time Stanley Cup champion.
According to Al MacIsaac, vice-president of hockey operations for the Chicago Blackhawks, an event for fans and the community at the Keating Centre on the St. FX campus yesterday was the best place to be with the Stanley Cup.
“I don’t know if there’s another place I’d want to do it,” said MacIsaac. “Obviously St. FX I graduated, Antigonish I grew up, my mom and dad and my six other siblings all live here so just the opportunity to come here with those people, also my friends and just share it with the community. If you don’t have a home to go to and you can’t call home the best place to be, I don’t know where you’re from.
“To share the Stanley Cup – the ultimate goal of an athlete in my sport – this is the right place to do it.”
This was the second time in four years he’s brought the Cup back to Antigonish. In 2010 when they held the event at the Keating Centre it was in August before school started. He said it was special being back on campus to share the Stanley Cup with classes in full swing.
“It seems like yesterday that I graduated – it was 1991 – but it does seem like yesterday,” said MacIsaac. “To come back to St. FX and be in that environment, a youthful, vibrant university and to have something so exciting as a Stanley Cup to lure them all in, because I’m sure there’s a lot of hockey fans that go St. FX. It doesn’t matter whether they played; they’re female, male or whatever it might be. “Everybody knows the Stanley Cup here in the Maritimes and in Canada. I want to share it with them and I’m hoping they all come and see it. The fact we have it here at the Keating Centre is even better.”
Yesterday he admitted that he obviously wanted to bring it back again, but didn’t believe it would be so soon. He said they had a lot of turnover after their last victory, but players like Andrew Shaw, Michael Frolik, Marcus Krüger and Nick Leddy are young players within the organization who stepped up last year.
“I didn’t expect it to be this soon, but I had hoped,” he said. “We had a huge turnover in 2010 due to cap reasons and had to unload a number of really top-end players, but fortunately we had a lot of depth. We have a lot of young players that are emerging and are becoming prominent players on our club.
“Now we’ve got this new nucleus. In 2013 winning the Stanley Cup, but able to keep that roster, for the most part intact, we’re excited for what the future holds.”
For those unsure of what he does as vice-president of hockey operations, he said that he reports directly to the president of the organization and anyone involved in hockey operations works under him.
“From the general manager, who I work side-by-side with, down through our scouting staff, players, coaches and minor-league people, they all work underneath me,” said MacIsaac. “It’s an incredible opportunity to work in a sport that was your hobby and your childhood recreation. I feel very fortunate and to be with a first-class organization like Chicago is even better.”
In the afternoon MacIsaac took the Cup to CACL, a local organization that works with adults with intellectual disabilities. There were approximately 75 young men and women, as well as adults who are part of their programs, in attendance.
MacIsaac helped raise funds for the organization through the sale of T-shirts at the afternoon event as well as other opportunities.
“Early on when I was fortunate enough to win the Stanley Cup I talked to some people locally and we tried to figure out how can we take most advantage of the Stanley Cup – get it to the most people and help those in need,” he said. “We decided on the CACL local community centre and it was incredible being there. To see the look, the expression, when they saw the Stanley Cup makes it all worth it. I had my day on the ice in Boston, but this is their day and my day to share.
“Those are the type of memories the Stanley Cup will leave with you.”