-- Fourteen years ago, Bill Guerin
was a brash youngster on top of the hockey world, cherishing the first of what he thought would be many Stanley Cups.
Friday night, in a cramped visitor's dressing room at Joe Louis Arena, the 38-year-old Guerin, his playoff beard featuring as many gray whiskers as black, joked about taking out his dentures before finally slaking a thirst for the sweetest of champagnes that can only flow out of the Stanley Cup.
"This is what we dream of," Guerin said. "This is what hockey is all about. This is why we love the game."
Less than an hour after Guerin's Penguins won the Stanley Cup with a thrilling 2-1 victory against Detroit in Game 7, he was gulping champagne out of the Cup as young Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby
tilted it toward his mouth.
"That's good champagne," Guerin said after spraying a geyser of champagne mist toward the ceiling for luck.
It was impossible at that moment for Guerin not to think about the first time he won the Stanley Cup, as a youngster with an upstart New Jersey Devils
squad that upset these same Wings in four games back in 1995.
"I was so young and I thought I would get a million more cracks and you don't, you just don't," Guerin said. "All I wanted the rest of my career was one more crack at it -- thank god for Max Talbot."
Talbot scored both of Pittsburgh's goals Friday night, delivering Guerin a second Cup almost 14 years to the day from his first. Guerin waited 13 years, 353 days before he finally got to raise the Stanley Cup over his head for the second time.
It was also impossible not to marvel at his good fortune in landing with the Penguins in a protracted trade that got a little messy and took several days to finish. That move, from a New York Islanders
team well out of the hunt, revived Guerin's season, although thoughts of a shot at the Stanley Cup were not prevalent at the time.
"When I got traded to Pittsburgh, the Pens were in 10th and I was in 30th," Guerin said, laughing.
Only Chris Chelios
(16 years, 20 days) and Mark Recchi
(15 years, 25 days) waited longer than Guerin between NHL championships.
"You see a guy like Billy Guerin, he won it, but it was 14 years ago," Crosby said. "It's scary to think that we've got another chance, another crack at it; and we did the most we could with that opportunity. It was just about seizing the opportunity, and doing what we could with it."
In a somewhat surprising move, Crosby handed the cup to Guerin first after accepting the trophy from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
"It was amazing and I appreciate the other guys letting me do that," Guerin said. "Just being able to be a big part of this team, they're great guys. I'll tell you, this is a great team."
His teammates say that Guerin deserved the honor of receiving the Cup from Crosby.
"He's a huge reason why we all stayed so composed," linemate Chris Kunitz
told NHL.com. "He's a guy that is a talker in the room, keeps everybody's spirits light. He's a great teammate. He tells players like it is when something needs to be done. He's out there fighting for guys, blocking shots, scoring goals. He does whatever it takes."
Defenseman Brooks Orpik
had a huge smile plastered on his face as he stood on the ice watching Guerin celebrate the victory with his wife and four kids.
"I was so young and I thought I would get a million more cracks and you don't, you just don't. All I wanted the rest of my career was one more crack at it." -- Bill Guerin
"He's just one of those guys, as soon as he got in the room it seemed like he had been there for years already," Orpik told NHL.com. "Everyone seems to gravitate toward him. He just garners that respect right away. More importantly, he's a really, really good human being and that is what everyone respects most about him. He was huge for us ever since we got him."