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Olympic gold medallist Alex Pietrangelo honoured in King Township

July 30, 2014   ·   0 Comments

By Jake Courtepatte
King residents were given the opportunity Thursday night to personally congratulate homegrown hero Alex Pietrangelo for bringing home Olympic gold.
The Township held a celebratory reception at Villanova College in King City, where Pietrangelo earned his education.
Nearly 400 guests attended the event, many of whom Pietrangelo said he knew personally.
“It’s such a small community,” said Pietrangelo. “To see everybody that I haven’t seen in so many years really is special.”
Pietrangelo, a member of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues since 2008, played in all six games for Canada’s gold medal winning 2014 Olympic team. He was a key player in the victory, picking up one assist on a defensive squad that allowed three goals all tournament.
“Representing your country is something that you’re never going to forget,” said Pietrangelo. “At every stage, it’s always just as special.”
The ceremony opened with a piano and vocal performance of Andee’s “We Are Gold,” covered by JUNO nominee Sara Papini. Mayor Steve Pellegrini hosted the event as emcee, stressing the importance of celebrating the successes of King.
“He’s made our community, and for that matter, our country, very proud. As a community that is passionate, and a proud supporter of sports, we can thank Alex for being such an inspiration to all of us.”
The night was highlighted by speeches from a number of individuals who played a role in Alex’s success, including his former Toronto Junior Canadiens coach Tyler Cragg and former teacher and trainer Sergio Blasi.
The final guest speaker was someone Alex described as his “biggest fan,” his brother David. In typical Canadian sibling fashion, David recounted his times with Alex skating on the backyard rink built by their father Joe. Although David claims that Alex would make himself and his friends “look like fools” on the rink, he says there is more to Alex than hockey.
“There are other parts of Alex that I’ve come to know as an older brother. First and foremost, Alex is a fine human being. Alex values his family, his loved ones, and his friends above all else. When we come to visit him in St. Louis, he greets us with open arms every time.”
The night was more than just a sentimental celebration, often taking on a light-hearted vibe. Mayor Pellegrini acknowledged the lengthy time gap since the Olympics, joking that “we waited for a bit to hold the ceremony, hoping we would get to celebrate an Olympic gold and a Stanley Cup.”
When presented with the “Key to the City” by the mayor, Pietrangelo told the crowd: “I asked (Mayor Pellegrini) if it actually gets me in anywhere, and he said no. I just wanted to get into the municipal office to lower my father’s taxes.”
After the ceremony, Pietrangelo was quickly swarmed with kids and hockey fans alike to take photos and autograph jerseys. A number of young kids wore their NobleKing Knights jerseys, a team Pietrangelo played two seasons for as a minor.
On stage, Mayor Pellegrini spoke directly to these aspiring hockey players.
“He started here, wearing the same uniform you guys are,” said the mayor. “Remember that. For young people, this is a chance to see that ambition is worth having, that dreams are worth pursuing, and that the bar should be set high.”
But being an NHL superstar does not seem to have gone to the head of the humble, small-town Pietrangelo.
“There are so many people here that have influenced me in different ways,” said Pietrangelo. “This is a really special event to me, it’s a little over the top, and I can’t thank everyone enough for coming out.”
Perhaps Paul Paradiso, president of Villanova College, best echoed the sentiments of the night’s attendees.
“You wear number 27,” said Paradiso. “The number of my favourite player, Frank Mahovolich. But Alex, you are now my favourite player.”
Pietrangelo has six seasons left on the seven-year, $45 million contract he signed with the Blues last September.
He also won gold with Canada at the 2009 World Junior Championships, and in 2010 was named the WJC’s Best Defenceman.

         

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