Justin Williams got his "me" time with the Stanley Cup on Thursday.
Then he shared it with the people of Ventnor and Atlantic City.
Williams, the former Philadelphia Flyers forward who won the Cup with the Los Angeles Kings this year, chose South Jersey for his one day with the most hallowed trophy in sports.
"The first time I won the Cup (in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes), I brought it to my hometown in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada, and enjoyed it for that time," Williams said. "And now I spend my summers in this area. So I want to show people even though I play hockey thousands of miles away, I'm still kind of part of the community here and I enjoy living here."
Williams, 30, began his career in Philadelphia in 2000 and played for the Flyers until being traded in 2004. During that time, he met his wife, Kelly, a native of Glenolden, Pa., who had been spending summers at the Jersey Shore for her entire life.
The couple owned a condominium in Wildwood before buying a home on the back bay in Ventnor in 2009.
"He loves (the area), too. It's not just me," Kelly said, laughing.
So when he won the Cup this year for the second time, Williams decided to bring it to Ventnor. Every player and coach on the winning team gets to spend one day with the Cup.
"(In 2006), I had it for my charity golf tournament, so it was open to the public for most of the day," Williams said. "But now I just kind of wanted some 'me' time with it."
Williams picked up the Cup at 8 a.m. at Atlantic City International Airport. In the morning, he played a game of street hockey with his friends in Ventnor, with the winner getting the Cup. He then took it out on his pontoon boat, where Kelly's brother, Pat, proposed to his girlfriend, Dana. She said yes, and then they drank from the Cup.
Around 1:20 p.m., he carried it into a courtroom at Ventnor City Hall, where he thanked the few dozen residents, police officers and city employees who showed up.
"It was a great thing that this gentleman lives in the community and shared his Stanley Cup with the community in a private session like this," said Ventnor resident Rita Moore, who brought her grandson Dante, 7, and granddaughter Isabella, 4. "I think that's great. He should be commended for that."
Williams posed for pictures and signed autographs for about an hour.
"It was amazing how big it was and how they made it look easy to carry," said Tommy Peterson, a 12-year-old student at Ventnor Elementary School.
After that, Williams brought the Cup to Caesars Atlantic City, where there were a few hundred people gathered. The crowd erupted when Williams arrived in the lobby and hoisted the Cup over his head before putting it on display.
"It always makes people happy when they see the silver jug around. That in turn makes me happy as well," Williams said.
This was the second year in a row that the Cup was at Caesars. Williams' friend and former Flyers teammate, Dennis Seidenberg, brought it there last year after winning it with the Boston Bruins. Seidenberg, a native of Germany, spends his summers in Margate.
Seidenberg came to the party Thursday night, as did several other former Flyers who still have ties to the area: former coach John Stevens, now an assistant with the Kings, whose son John played for St. Augustine Prep; former enforcer Todd Fedoruk, now an assistant with the Trenton Titans in the ECHL; and Williams' Kings teammate Jeff Carter, who still spends his summers in Sea Isle City.
Carter was just traded from the Flyers last year but said he could see himself continuing to come back to the Jersey Shore like Seidenberg and Williams do.
"It's a great place to live, obviously, with all the beaches and Atlantic City being close," said Carter, who plans to spend his day with the Cup later this month in his native London, Ontario. "And for me, I've got a lot of friends from the Philly area who come down here, so it's always fun to come back and see everybody."
Williams agreed, which was part of the reason why he chose to spend his day with the Cup here.
"It's just a good area, a good place to enjoy the summer, a good place for children," he said. "And you just seem to make a lot of friends here."
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