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Rideau Canal procession kicks off All-Star Weekend

by Dave Lozo

OTTAWA -- Every NHL trophy was on display Thursday afternoon as they were paraded down the Rideau Canal in front of several thousand fans in the official start to the 2012 Tim Hortons All-Star weekend.

From the Ted Lindsay Award to the Stanley Cup, fans lined the canal to get a glimpse of all the NHL's hardware. The trophy procession featured 150 Tim Bits kids from Tim Hortons youth hockey program escorting the awards across the canal. Each trophy was on an individual sled with one lucky kid riding along with it.

Two of the many fans on hand were Ron Palmer and his young son, Justin Palmer, both of whom were donning skates for the festivities. Ron yanked his son out of school for the day, and the trophy procession is just the start for the pair.


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"We're here to see the trophies go by," said Ron, who lives not far Scotiabank Place in nearby Stittsville. "He has a PD day (reports cards are being handed out) tomorrow, then we're going to the fan fest all day tomorrow, the Skills Competition on Saturday, then Sunday we're going to the All-Star Game. So we're making it an All-Star weekend."

Following the procession, trophy keepers Phil Pritchard and Mike Bolt escorted the trophies into the Ottawa Convention Centre, site of this year's Scotiabank Fan Fair. There, fans can get a picture with the Stanley Cup, test their skills at different booths, and create their own hockey card thanks to Upper Deck.

But getting to see the trophies on the canal was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Ron and Justin.

"We've seen them at the Hockey Hall of Fame," Ron said, "but nothing like this."

Not surprisingly, Ron was wearing an Ottawa Senators jersey. But his young son decided to go a different way -- he was wearing a Philadelphia Flyers jersey.

Justin doesn't like the chances of Ilya Bryzgalov or Sergei Bobrosky winning the Vezina Trophy -- "I don't like Bobrovsky's rebound control," the youngster quipped. But Justin was most excited to see the Stanley Cup up close and personal.

"It's the hardest trophy to win," Justin said, "and once you win, (you get) all the glory."

According to dad, Justin became a Flyers fan because he got to meet Danny Briere, who was born in nearby Gatineau, Que., several times. Justin once received a goal stick from Bryzgalov, and now he's excited to get a chance to meet Philadelphia forward Scott Hartnell at some point during the weekend.

"I want to see all the Flyers on one team," said Justin, hoping Hartnell, Claude Giroux and Kimmo Timonen don't get split up at Thursday night's Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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