Sunday, 24 June 2007

Party Like A Billionaire

That's Henry Samueli. Henry Samueli owns the Anaheim Ducks. Henry's team just won the Stanley Cup. What does Henry do? He throws a party that makes your backyard barbeque party look like you're eating garbage. Granted, it's not every day that someone wins the Stanley Cup, but when you're from a little town in Manitoba, these kinds of parties are rarely seen. Actually, check that: NEVER seen. Reading through the Winnipeg Free Press this week, I came across an interview that Randy Turner did with the Penners who come from Winkler, Manitoba. Dustin Penner, as you know, is a member of those Stanley Cup-winning Anaheim Ducks. If you ever wanted to know what happens when you win a Stanley Cup, here is the entire interview from the Free Press.

"Not every day you party with billionaires -- at least, not if you work at a hospital in Winkler.

But if your kid is a Stanley Cup champion, well, it's tuxes and limousines and cigar-rollers for everybody.

Such was the fairy-tale week for Linda and Terry Penner, who after watching son Dustin capture a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks found themselves a few nights later on the grounds of the mansion of Ducks owner Henry Samueli.

And we can tell you this: Rich people know how to how to use a credit card.

After all, you're gazing at a 10,000-square-foot, multimillion-dollar home on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with waves crashing up against the rocks below. Waiters in tuxedos are serving dinner, which is a T-bone steak bigger than your own head. Oh, and don't forget the fireworks display off a cargo ship out in the bay.

"You just stand there with your mouth open and say, 'Someone pinch me,' " Linda said, after the couple returned home earlier in the week. "It was just amazing.

"And the cake. It was the shape of the Stanley Cup and it took four men to carry it. And it was delicious!"

Added Terry: "It's right out of the movies. Unbelievable... people actually live the life."

Indeed, if you ever want to know what it's like to get a taste of Cup celebrations, look no further than the Penners, along with daughter Ashley, and close relatives Dale Janzen and his family, getting a front-row seat to the Ducks' Game 5 victory over the Ottawa Senators.

"For me, the moment Dustin was skating towards us was a very emotional time," Linda added. "You're running around and all of a sudden you're on the ice and you see your son skating towards you... it's just a moment that's forever branded into my memory. That was very special.

"You're just so overwhelmed, it's almost like you're in a dream. And then I saw Teemu (Selanne) and his wife embracing and crying and that was really touching."

Of course, the party was only beginning. It was off to the VIP tent crowded with family, friends and a guy from Latin America rolling cigars upon request.

"At the moment it's hard to sink in because it's all going so fast," Terry noted. "You can hardly wait until he (Dustin) comes home and you can really sit down and talk about it, because at the time there's very little time to do much talking. It's all happy, happy, happy. "So when he gets home and we can rehash it all... that will probably be even more exciting than it was that evening (they won)."

For Dustin, just having family waiting when the final buzzer sounded was almost as sweet as the Cup itself.

"I'm happy they had a chance to experience it," Penner said, when reached by phone earlier this week in Newport Beach, Calif. "It's not like they're left out, but there's a distance from my life (in Anaheim). So the fact that they could be there and share that moment, I was happy for them."

Good that the folks experience a bit of the high life, too.

"(Samueli) paid a ship to pull up behind his house in the ocean and shoot off, like 20 to 30 minutes of fireworks," Penner noted. "How do you do that? Do you phone Newport or the coast guard and say, 'Hey, I need a ship to pull up to the back of my house and shoot off some fireworks? It's nuts.'"

Then there was uncle Dale Janzen, with his wife Sandra and two daughters, Monica and Kristin, who'd followed Dustin's career from Bottineau, N.D. junior college to the University of Maine, to Cincinnati (AHL) and Anaheim.

In fact, Janzen, along with Linda, were offered $3,000 apiece for their tickets to Game 5 by a scalper outside the arena.


"Heck, no," Janzen, the president of Fehr-Way Tours in Winnipeg, insisted. "This was once-in-a-lifetime." Good thing, too. After all, it's not every day that you get waved out to the ice surface by a Stanley Cup champion, then get to hold the trophy over your head, too.

"Oh, that was probably one of the major highlights of my life holding that (the Cup), especially at centre ice," Janzen said. "To see it happen was absolutely incredible for us. To be there, to be a part of it, it's still surreal. Every once in awhile my wife will say, 'Did we really do that last week?'"

The Penners stuck around for the Ducks' public celebration last Sunday, attended by an estimated crowd of 20,000. Then it was back to the sedate streets of Winkler, leaving the butlers and fireworks behind in the land of Disney.

But the warm and fuzzies haven't stopped yet.

"Going grocery shopping is not a short trip," Linda chuckled. "It's just wonderful, though. Everybody wants to say congratulations and give you a hug. It's lots of fun."

"It hits you that you're coming back to this little town. And this little town is where it all started for that boy. You're driving by the arena and there's signs that said, "Congratulations, Dustin Penner, Stanley Cup winner." That was just another reality check that this really did happen."

"I just kept saying, 'It can't get any better than this,' and it did! Now it's just like the best."

It just goes to show: You can have your Stanley Cup cake, and eat it, too."

Just so you know, the people pitured above with Dustin Penner are his mom, Linda, his sister, Ashley, and his dad, Terri. And all got to hoist the Stanley Cup.

Yeah, you could say that I'm a little jealous. I guess when you've got money to spend, and your biggest investment just won the most prestigious trophy in all of sports, you are allowed a little fun. Or, in Henry Samueli's case, boatloads of fun. Literally. But good on the Penners. They paid the price of their freedom for their son to play hockey when he was younger, and now it has paid off. And that is the ultimate investment someone can make: being there for one's child(ren) in any form.

Now that I'm all envious of some billionaire, I'm going to find some place cool to hang out. The heat and humidity are getting to me, and I'm starting to think that I could own a Stanley Cup Champion franchise one day. Until I recover from this heat-induced insanity, keep your sticks on the ice!

No comments: