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Here's Stanley, pass it on

by Mike G. Morreale
DETROIT -- One season removed from watching the Detroit Red Wings celebrate a Stanley Cup title on their home ice, the Pittsburgh Penguins turned the tables this spring.

The Penguins celebrated their third Stanley Cup and first since 1992 after scoring a 2-1 victory over the Wings in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final before 20,066 at Joe Louis Arena Friday night.

When NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman handed Lord Stanley over to Penguins' captain Sidney Crosby, you got a sense this was just the beginning of a Pittsburgh-style party that would last long into the night.

After taking the Cup, Crosby let loose with a loud yell before smacking three kisses on the coveted trophy. Crosby skated for approximately 15 seconds with the Cup high above his head before handing it over to the oldest player on the roster, Bill Guerin.

Guerin, 38, was celebrating his first Cup since 1995 when he played with the New Jersey Devils. His wait between championships (14 years) is the third-longest in history behind Chris Chelios (16 years) and Mark Recchi (15 years).

Pittsburgh General Manager Ray Shero acquired Guerin from the Islanders at the March 4 trading deadline, and he went on to become one of the lynchpins for Sidney Crosby on the team's top line. Guerin finished with 7 goals and 15 points in 24 playoff games.

Guerin eventually passed the Cup to defenseman Sergei Gonchar.

"It means so much (to see Gonchar raise the Cup)," Crosby said. "There are so many of those stories or there are so many guys who work so hard. I think that was Gonch's third time in the Final.

"He's played in the League a long, long time and he's been a great player, but he hadn't been able to win it to this point," Crosby continued. "That's something we all realize we can't take for granted."

Gonchar would eventually hand the Cup over to Miroslav Satan. The procession would continue as Petr Sykora, Hal Gill, Philippe Boucher, Ruslan Fedotenko, Craig Adams, Mark Eaton, Matt Cooke, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz and Brooks Orpik all received a twirl with the Cup.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 23 saves for the game, and Maxime Talbot, who connected for both goals in the victory, would eventually get their hands on the big prize, too. Talbot would eventually pass the Cup over to Conn Smythe Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin.

And coach Dan Bylsma would also have a chance to raise the Cup.

"Life's a bugger," Bylsma said at his postgame press conference. "I had plans about this and had dreams about it. I hoped this would happen someday, but good coaches have coached a long time and never gotten an opportunity like this. A lot of times, your first opportunity doesn't come with a team that's this talented or this group of players. I'm very fortunate in that regard."

Contact Mike Morreale at
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