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It’s Hockey Day in Victoria and our cups runneth over

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The Stanley Cup’s presence in Greater Victoria has attracted a lot of attention and long lines of hockey fans, with the most ­memorable stop so far being the Archie Courtnall Centre at Royal Jubilee Hospital.

Former NHL hockey players Geoff and Russ Courtnall took the cup to the hospital so that psychiatric emergency unit patients and medical staff could see it and take photographs.

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The Courtnall brothers, who were given 90 minutes with the cup on Thursday, displayed it in the hospital’s patient care centre atrium.

Phil Pritchard, vice-president and curator at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, said ­seeing the smiles on the faces of patients in hospital gowns as well as hospital staff was ­heartwarming.

“We were there about an hour and a half and I’m pretty sure we had every doctor, every nurse, every patient and it was amazing, absolutely amazing,” said Pritchard, who travels with the cup.

Kids were especially thrilled, he said. “And to me, that’s what it’s all about, when you see all those smiles.”

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A win-win situation: Two cups in one day. Lucy McKenzie, who turns 8 next week, with former NHLer Lanny McDonald in front of the Stanley Cup in the Fairmont Empress’s tea room on Friday. Photo: ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST sun

The three Courtnall ­brothers — Geoff, Russ and Bruce — helped to establish and fund the Archie Courtnall Centre, which is named after their late father.

Island Health spokesperson Andrew Leyne said they were trying to whisk people through as quickly as possible, as the line and interest kept growing. “It was a whirlwind of ­excitement.”

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Former NHL players Geoff Courtnall, centre, and Russ Courtnall, right, with the Stanley Cup and Island Health mental health, substance use, and medical staff at the Archie Courtnall Centre, Psychiatric Emergency Services at Royal Jubilee Hospital, on Thursday. VIA ISLAND HEALTH sun

The health authority consulted with infection-prevention staff in advance, and masks remained required inside, but could be taken off briefly for photos, as the viewing took place in a non-patient-care area.

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“A lot of staff came with hockey jerseys on, and a couple had their kids with them and Geoff Courtnall hung out for the entire time and greeted fans as they came for a photo and stood by them with the cup,” Leyne said.

The cup, which is in Victoria as part of Hockey Day in Canada events, has made several other stops in the region, including visits to the Songhees Wellness Centre for an Indigenous celebration with sports commentaor Ron MacLean, and Wicket Hall in the Strathcona Hotel for a podcast taping with NHL celebrities.

It has also taken a few spins on the synthetic outdoor rink at Ship Point.

On Friday, the Stanley Cup travelled to Bayside and Central middle schools, was on display at the Fairmont Empress Hotel during high tea — along with the Grey Cup — and was at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre Friday night for the Hockey Day in ­Canada NHL Alumni and Celebrity Classic, ­featuring ­former NHL stars such as Lanny McDonald, Kirk McLean and Darcy Tucker and Sportsnet TV personalities such as Ron MacLean, Evanka Osmak and Ken Reid.

The Grey Cup is in Victoria to promote the 2024 championship game that will be held in Vancouver in November.

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