By The Charlottetown Guardian
Kevin Murphy sits back in his chair and reflects on the moment.
He's delighted with where his Abbies are and is pleased with how preparations for the national final are taking shape.
"There's no question that when we took on the challenge of hosting, we knew it was more of an event," said the Charlottetown businessman. "Being at the one in Halifax (2002) and being at the one in Flin Flon (2001), we knew the standard was there. The whole city, and community, that was hosting, put on a show to entertain the people. We're doing the same thing here with the entertainment package we've put together for the Royal Bank Cup week."
Charlottetown plays host to the national final for the second time and P.E.I. for the fourth time when the best junior-aged teams compete May 3-11 at the Civic Centre.
Murphy knows the hockey product will take care of itself, but the organizing committee wants to go one step further. That's why the entertainment component at the Molson Canadian Potato Patch in the neighbouring Trade Centre, has been a labour of love for the group.
"It's separate from the tournament itself but still part of the overall event," said Murphy. "The hockey side will be phenomenal, but we also want people to say, when the week is over, that it was fun. I want people to say it was a great week."
The RBC requires a sizable financial commitment with the operating budget in Charlottetown expected to be close to $425,000.
"You never know if things are going to be successful, if it's going to lose money, make money. You have to get the right people around you and make sure you have the best opportunity for success," said Murphy.
One month away from Game 1, upwards of 1,300 passes have been sold and the host committee has received the corporate support it had hoped for.
"Where do we want to be? If you ask Kevin Murphy, there's 3,500 seats in the rink," he said with a laugh.
"Being realistic, we know there is a certain percentage will be walk up.”
The next 30 days, said the Abbies' owner, will be key.
"I can say I'm happy. Am I content? No. Do I want to keep pushing it? Yes."
But as plans continue off the ice, Murphy's team embarks on another chapter of his season this weekend when the Abbies host Amherst Ramblers in the Maritime Junior A Hockey League final beginning Saturday at the Civic Centre.
As good as the team has been -- a record 42 wins on the season and an 8-3 run through two playoff series -- Murphy knows things are going to get tougher.
“There is another level this team has to go to and will go to and they are going to be pushed to," he said. "We're in the finals of the Maritime league, this is where we want to be and we're happy to ... be here but we're not content."
Getting this far still hasn't meant Charlottetown has attained any of its three objectives and the president had that message for his employees recently during a state-of-the-team address.
"They celebrating winning the Meek Division. Yes, it's nice to enjoy the moment, but guys, we never, ever, ever got into this to win the Meek Division. Make no mistake about it, we have one objective here and that's to win the Royal Bank Cup. That's why we assembled all you players."
The Abbies hope to attain the Atlantic version of hockey's grand slam - the Maritime title, Eastern
Canadian Fred Page Cup and the Royal Bank Cup, "and it's all going to happen within the next 35
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