"… Well I was born in a small town. And I live in a small town. Probably die in a small town. Oh, those small communities …"
"This is awesome," Hainsey's dad, Marty, said. "For a town like this, it doesn't get any better."
"It's going to make me cry," Hainsey's mom, Kerry, said.
"This is terrific," said Hainsey, who won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins on June 11. "Guys who have won it two or three times go hide in the cabin or something. But coming from here, it always was part of the plan once we pulled this sucker off."
Looking onto the ice, Bob Crawford stood there and smiled. Crawford is owner/operator of a number of rinks in the area, Bolton among them, but beyond that he is hockey family. His dad Floyd, involved in hockey forever, had nine children in Belleville, Ontario. Three played in the NHL. Marc coached the Colorado Avalanche to the Stanley Cup. Bob, who scored 36 goals one season for the Whalers, knows plenty about small hockey towns on both sides of the border.
"Isn't this neat?" Crawford said. "Look, the Stanley Cup going to any rink is an amazing thing. Bolton is a quiet little town. Ron grew up here. Ron started skating here. His family is from this town. This is all about them giving back today. A lot of guys do things on their own. He did this for the community and the kids in the organization.
"I've been here since 2006, but I met everybody through this event. They're all here today. They are proud of Ron. They are proud of their town."
Cars started pulling in off Route 6 in the morning and kept pulling in until the police began directing traffic to park at a nearby lot. Hundreds lined up for a chance to walk on a red carpet to center ice and, over two hours, have their picture taken with Hainsey. He wore his Penguins jersey. The organization Crawford was talking about is the Eastern Connecticut Hockey Organization, which helped stage the event. The ECHO kids went first. It was a cool thing to watch.
"The turnout is huge," Hainsey's wife, Hayley, said. "Crazy. Wonderful."
Marty Hainsey brought Ron to the Ice Palace when he was 3 for the Learn To Skate program. Ron played for ECHO until he was 8 before moving on to Gary Dineen's program at Enfield. National program, UMass Lowell, AHL, believe this much. Traded by Carolina to Pittsburgh in late February, there were a lot of hockey echoes through the years before he finally won the Stanley Cup at 36. Yet it's more than his age and a long, determined journey through the minors and six NHL teams.
Hainsey's agent Matt Keator joked about Hainsey winning the Stanley Cup as often as a total solar eclipse. Yet even that was more common than Hainsey making the playoffs before this spring. No player in NHL history had played in as many regular season games — 907 — without making it to the postseason.
"We've been having fun. We're having hats made up with 907," Keanor said. "I walked onto the ice after [the Penguins won the Cup in Nashville] and he goes, 'Dude, I'm 1-for-1 in the playoffs.' That's vintage Ronnie."
With Hainsey playing so deep into the spring with a Biblical playoff beard, it's funny to think about how he got on an ECHO team, baby-faced, when he was only 4.
"I remember the first banquet they had, the coach saying, 'This is the first time we've ever had to give out a trophy to someone in nursery school,'" Kerry said.
With the late Dineen playing a considerable role in his development, Hainsey went out of his way to talk about him and Enfield Twin Rinks.
"I did a lot there," Hainsley said, "But this, obviously, is where I started, my hometown."
The tradition of every player spending a day with the Stanley Cup started with the 1994 Rangers. City to city, country to county, the Hockey Hall of Fame has a caretaker for the Cup.
Nick Bonino from Farmington had the Cup Sunday. He brought it to the Connecticut Children's Medical Center and Avon Old Farms. The hardware didn't have to travel far Monday morning.
"They bring it right to you and drop it at the house," Hainsey said. "I think Bonino had it until late in the evening hours."
The past two years, Bonino has eaten pasta from the Stanley Cup. As a jab at a Toronto sports columnist, Phil Kessel ate hot dogs from the Cup. So how did the three young Hainsey children celebrate? How else?
Alena, Jaxon and Melana ate cereal from the Stanley Cup for breakfast.
"Froot Loops," Hayley said
"A good way to start the day," Ron said.
The Hainsey family were season ticketholders for the Whalers. Little Ron loved Ron Francis and Ulf Samuelsson. The irony of Francis trading Hainsey to former Whalers GM Jim Rutherford and the immediate Stanley Cup victory is not lost on them. Finally making the playoffs, Francis, Rutherford, Whalers, Stanley Cup, total solar eclipse, yeah, the whole thing is Froot Loops.
"When he got traded from Carolina, there were mixed emotions," said Hayley, who emigrated from Scotland with her family to Canada when she was 12 and met Ron in Hamilton, where he played in the AHL. "We loved the team he played for, also where we were living. But going to a team like Pittsburgh, how could you be upset, right? Great team. Great players. Great guys. It turned out for the best, obviously, for us.
"His first game was the outdoor game [at Heinz Field]. It's such a high caliber team. It's kind of nerve-racking. You've got to play at a high level. I think he did really well."
Keator played at Pomfret and Trinity before playing pro in Europe. He scouted for the Blues before becoming an agent. Over 21 years, he has built a clientele of nearly 20, including the Bruins' Zdeno Chara. He has had players on four of the past six Stanley Cup champions.
"This is pretty special," Keator said. "Ron's one of my first and when you've been with a guy since he was 15, it's amazing how far he has grown as a player and person. Of all my clients, every one was very excited for Ron. He's such a good person, involved in the NHLPA, every team he has been a leader. People cheer for a guy like this.
"Gary Dineen once said to me the No. 1 thing with Hainsey is hockey sense. 'He has size and skating. That's obvious. But watch his hockey sense.' That's why he has played so long."
He'll play longer. He recently signed a two-year, $6 million free-agent deal to help stabilize a young Toronto defense. Bonino, who won his second Cup in a row with the Penguins, also is moving on, signing a four-year, $16.4 million deal with Nashville.
Marty went to virtually all the playoff games this spring. Kerry, who runs a construction business, preferred to stay home and watch by herself. She was home when the Penguins won the Cup. She called it nearly unbelievable, yet it was the Game 7 double-overtime victory over Ottawa that left her in shock.
"People were constantly calling and texting," Kerry said. "Tons of people wanted me to come over to their house and watch. The people in Bolton were so supportive."
There even was an official proclamation that Monday was Ron Hainsey Day in Bolton.
"Ron really wanted the kids to get a chance today, especially those starting out with hockey," Marty said. "That was his focus. Hopefully, they won't forget this for a while."
If it's only as long as it took for Ron Hainsey to make the playoffs, that will be plenty long enough.