© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
P.K. Subban, star defenceman with the Montreal Canadiens, signs an autograph for Camden MacLeod, 9, of Charlottetown. Subban was one of the celebrities appearing at the annual Special Olympics Festival in Charlottetown.
The top all-around defenceman in the NHL this year really likes seafood, giving high praise to the chowder at the Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown.
Pernell Karl (PK) Subban is on P.E.I. in support of the 24th annual Special Olympics Festival gala fundraiser held Tuesday in Summerside and Charlottetown.
It is his first visit to the Island.
"It's nice," he said as people lined up to get photos and autographs before the gala dinner began.
People like Hailey Murphy, 9, who plays ringette and is a huge fan of the Montreal Canadiens.
"It was exciting," she said of having a jersey signed by Subban.
"As a professional athlete it's always great when you can come to these types of events and show support to the Special Olympics and its athletes," said Subban.
"The weather is beautiful, the seafood is great," he said. "I'm a big seafood guy so I will enjoy, definitely, staying here."
Just the night before the gala dinner Tuesday, the Stanley Cup was presented to the Chicago Blackhawks.
"Chicago is a great team," said Subban. "They had an outstanding season in terms of the amount of winning streaks they put together, the length of them. Clearly the best team statistically throughout the regular season.
"It was a great playoff. It was exciting to watch and even more exciting was the final round.
"There was everything you wanted; adversity, defence, scoring, a little bit of rivalry maybe brewing. It was great for hockey."
Subban is ready to enter the fray for next season's Stanley Cup.
"We are definitely looking forward to getting back on the ice and getting another shot at that trophy," he said.
"We set a pretty good foundation last year and we want to build on that this year," he said of his Montreal Canadiens.
Subban won this year's James Norris Memorial Trophy for best overall defenceman.
He joined actress Elisha Cuthbert, her fiancé, Toronto Maple Leaf captain Dion Phaneuf, and former Toronto general manager Brian Burke for the celebrity lineup at the P.E.I. fundraising event.
Over 400 tickets were sold, said Special Olympics P.E.I. president and festival organizer Reid Barnett.
Special Olympics offers people with a wide range of intellectual and physical capabilities to participate in sport at the local, national and international level. There just under 500 athletes in the organization on the Island, said Barnett.
"We have been really growing the program over the last couple of years," he said. "We are looking at trying to grow the program by seven percent per year. We want to really establish ourselves better on the Island.
Phaneuf if back for his sixth visit to the Special Olympic fundraiser on P.E.I.
"The best part for me is when I get to interact with the athletes, to talk with them, see how their year was," he said. "I see them every year and I get to ask how their training is going.
"It's a special organization for me because I have a cousin that is a Special Olympian. Just the joy that sport puts on their faces is unbelievable.
"We want to raise as much money as we can so these athletes can travel and play their sport all over the world," said Phaneuf.
"It means everything to me," said Alyssa Chapman from Murray Harbour, a figure skater and swimmer with Special Olympics.
"I was picked on a lot when I was a kid and I still get kind of picked on but it's a lot better now because of Special Olympics," she said.
Chapman took home medals from the 2013 Special Olympics winter games in South Korea this past January.
"We need all the volunteers we can get," said Chapman. "We need all the fundraising we can for all of our sports to keep them going."