When Senior Constable Jose Cives heard over dispatch that a man had collapsed in the Calgary International Airport, he had no idea that attending the call would change his life - and save that of a hockey legend.

The 15-year veteran of the Calgary Police Service sprung into action on that February day, knowing there was no time to spare.

“As I arrived, I automatically took over from the male that was doing chest compressions, I took over chest compressions and continued from then on after,” Cives recalled Friday. “I’m told that we worked on him for 10 minutes solid, together with the use of an AED.”

The patient was none other than Lanny McDonald.

“There was many a time when I thought Lanny wasn’t going to make it through, but I wasn’t going to stop until I got some sort of result,” Cives said. “By the time I had finished, he’d come around, he was moving, talking, his eyes were open, looking around, and by that stage EMS and Calgary Fire had arrived.

“I was somewhat exhausted, but I knew I’d done my bit, and I left the rest to the experts.”

Fast-forward to Friday evening, when McDonald - smiling and laughing through his iconic moustache - turned up with teammates Colin Patterson, Tim Hunter and Rick Wamsley at a Calgary Police Association fundraiser, along with a special guest.

The Stanley Cup.

All to say thank you - and surprise - the man that helped save McDonald’s life.

CPS Constable Jose Cives gets the surprise of a lifetime

“He's a local hero, Jose saved my life along with two beautiful nurses that jumped in when I had my cardiac arrest,” said McDonald. “To be able to bring the Cup here when it was in town, and it just happened to be their fundraising event here as well, they had no idea it was coming.

“To be able to surprise them, be here knowing they make such a difference in the community is so rewarding, what a great way to thank Jose.”

For Cives, who spent more than a decade in law enforcement in the United Kingdom before settling in Okotoks with his family, the surprise was totally unexpected.

“When I invited him down, (Lanny) said he would make an appearance and I thought ‘great, that’s all I’m expecting,’” Cives said. “He then said to me, ‘You’ve got to be there at 5:30.’ I said, ‘OK, for what?’ and he said, 'Just be there!’

“When I saw him turn up with some of the other alumni and I saw the Stanley Cup, I was gobsmacked, I was taken aback. It was very emotional, just to see him once again, holding the Stanley Cup, and it just makes me think although I didn’t know who I was rescuscitating at the time, it was a day to remember and I’m glad he’s still around us.”

And in the months since, McDonald and Cives have struck up a friendship - both humble men who formed an unbreakable kinship through courage and determination.

“It’s been fabulous,” McDonald said with a smile. “We go for coffee, we laugh, we cry, we share stories back and forth. To find out a little bit more about his family, (his) three kids.

“He didn’t want any fanfare at all, he just says ‘I was doing my job.’ So, to be able to get to know him a whole lot more, and to be able to surprise him and his teammates, it’s great to be able to support them here tonight.”

Cives agreed - saying he and McDonald get along brilliantly.

“There isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t remind me that I’m the man that broke him, his ribs and his sternum,” Cives said with a chuckle. “But on the flip side, he always tells me that he’s forever thankful that I was one of the people that saved his life.”

And sharing the most famous trophy in sports - to a captive audience - was just one of the ways McDonald and his 1989 Stanley Cup teammates could say thank you.

“To have Colin Patterson, Timmy Hunter and Rick Wamsley all with me, we all won the Cup together,” said McDonald.

“What a great way to celebrate, with people that are trying to do the same thing, make a difference in our community.”