NHLer shares good fortune
The O'Brien family of Port Hope has a mere two days to be together this Christmas -- but they shared their good fortune with the wider community.
Shane O'Brien, 26, is a professional NHL player with the Vancouver Canucks. After a game in Vancouver Tuesday night, he caught a red-eye flight to Toronto, arriving at 7 a. m. Just hours later, he, his parents Pat and Pam and sister Katey arrived at the Hamilton Twp. municipal offices south of Camborne where Shane presented a Canucks jersey signed by the entire team. The jersey has been donated for a fundraising raffle to benefit the Vincent Massey Memorial Arena and Hall renovation and addition.
When the O'Briens arrived, there was a cluster of township employees, council members and relations waiting excitedly. Without a pause, there were introductions, handshakes and easy smiles all 'round.
Ten-year-old Hailey Lansley of Grafton, granddaughter of Hamilton Twp. Coun. Gary Woods, wore her an NHL hockey jersey that came to her knees. With the autographs of Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky already on her treasured shirt, she cut right to the chase, asking Shane to add his autograph. He willingly did so for the young Grafton Atom hockey player.
He also obliged eight-year-old Ashley Lansley, a Grafton Novice hockey player, signing an eight-by-10 glossy photo she brought with her.
Then there were requested photos with various staffers and council members, all thrilled to have the opportunity.
"It's great to have famous hockey players come from Hamilton Twp," Mayor Mark Lovshin said with pride.
Actually, the O'Briens live in Port Hope these days, but Shane played minor hockey for Port Hope at the Bewdley arena.
Shane, who must have been coming up on 24 hours without sleep, stayed half an hour, congenially talking with people, conducting a brief media interview, and talking one-on-one with a young man who was clearly a hockey fan: "That was a great goal you had last night!" he enthused.
"It's great to have him home for Christmas," mom Pam said. "But he has to leave Christmas night to fly back."
"We were out in Vancouver last year," father Pat said. "They had a record snow storm. People just abandon their cars out there. So, this is different this year. He's home.
"We've always said, 'Don't forget where you come from Always give back.'"
And a Merry Christmas to all.