by Phil Ambroziak
Paradise became reality for Meadow Lake and area hockey fans last week when multitudes flocked to the hillside at PineRidge Ford Theatre in Lions Park Aug. 6 to witness the arrival of hometown hockey hero Dwight King and, with him, the sport’s holy grail – the Stanley Cup.
As per tradition, members of the National Hockey League’s (NHL) championship team are given one day with the Cup and King wanted to make sure his day was shared with his family, friends and fans who continue to support him throughout his professional career.
“I’m very happy to be here today,” King said. “Having grown up in this community, I’ve probably ran into most of you in the last 25 years. I’m proud to still call Meadow Lake home and look forward to many more summers here.”
King went on to give special thanks to his wife, Lauren, who he said doesn’t always get the recognition she deserves.
“I’m very appreciative of everything she does for our family,” he said. “I’d also like to thank my parents (Donna and Dwayne) who have been the backbone of my career and who have made me what I am today. I would not have achieved all the things I have if not for their support – both emotionally and financially – that allowed me to play hockey when I was a kid.”
King also thanked his siblings – sisters Danene and Dana, and brother DJ – all of whom have had successful careers on the ice.
“Growing up, we weren’t always best friends every day, but the lessons I learned from you I would not have wanted to learn anywhere else,” King noted. “You have all had a big impact on my life.”
Also on hand to address the crowd was Meadow Lake mayor Gary Vidal, RM of Meadow Lake councillor Garry Ratke and Flying Dust First Nation chief Robert Merasty. The chief described the entire King family as tremendous role models, stating children who look up to the Kings and who believe in themselves also have a chance to achieve great things. Vidal, meanwhile, expressed how pleasing it was to have the Stanley Cup in Meadow Lake for a third time – once in 2003 courtesy of Jeff Friesen who played for the New Jersey Devils and again when King, still representing the Los Angeles Kings, did so in 2012.
Vidal and Ratke also presented King with the ‘Key to the Community’, a special award recognizing the athlete’s success as well as the contributions he’s made to the Meadow Lake area.
Also in attendance were King’s former minor hockey coach Brent Dubray, Meadow Lake Métis Local 31 president Guy Tourand and Meadow Lake Minor Hockey secretary Jenny Dennis.
“Hockey is in the hearts and souls of our many young players, as well as the hearts and souls of our many volunteers,” Dennis said. “Dwight, the many hours of sweat, pain and heart you put into your game have rewarded you twofold. You’ve become an icon for many young boys and girls… thank you for continuing to support minor hockey in Meadow Lake. We will continue to cheer you on and show pride in you. You are our champion, you are our hero, you are our great one.”
One of the many young fans to take part in the festivities was 10-year-old Nathan Ouellette.
“I only got to see the Stanley Cup once before,” Ouellette said. “I’m happy he won it again.”
Organized by a special Stanley Cup committee, the visit also proved beneficial for the local needy. In order to receive a pre-autographed photo of Dwight King, those in attendance were encouraged to donate a non-perishable food item to the Door of Hope’s food bank. A total of 821 pounds of food was collected that day as well as close to $700 in cash donations.