BLAINVILLE, Quebec -- Pascal Dupuis inspired his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates on their run to the Stanley Cup, and Sidney Crosby found a special way of driving that message home.
Dupuis retired in December with lingering health concerns because of blood clots. Despite his NHL playing days coming to an end, the veteran forward remained an integral part of the Penguins and was in uniform to hoist the Cup after Pittsburgh's six-game win against the San Jose Sharks in the Stanley Cup Final.
On Sunday, Dupuis brought the Cup home one last time as a player to share a special day with his family, friends and hometown fans.
"Yes, it does feel bittersweet a little bit," Dupuis said. "You get the Cup, you want to celebrate. But at the same time I got a gift by the mail [Saturday]. Basically, it's a book of all the pictures of all the good stuff we went through. It came from Nova Scotia, so you guys can figure out who it came from (Crosby), but he couldn't give it to me during the season, he saw me skating a little bit.
"And he sent it [Saturday], before my day with the Cup, so he knew what he was doing to get me right here," Dupuis said, putting his fist over his heart.
Dupuis, his wife, Carole-Lyne, daughters Maeva, Zoe and Lola and son Kody had breakfast with the Cup before bringing it to Parc Équestre de Blainville to share it with his fellow citizens.
"We ate cereal in it," Dupuis said. "We had time to put it in every bed. We did that in 2009 when the kids were younger. We put it in every bed and woke them up with it, but now they're older, they knew what was going to happen. They knew the date so we couldn't surprise them with it."
Blainville mayor Richard Perreault took a playful jab at the Montreal Canadiens, who have not won the Stanley Cup since 1993, when he noted that Dupuis had won it twice in eight years.
"This one is certainly different," Dupuis said. "The first, you win one with the team we had in 2009 and we thought we would repeat and repeat, but you see how hard it is to win this trophy. And with everything that has happened to me since 2009, that I had to stop playing, this one has a different taste to it.
"The fact that I know I'll never be able to play hockey again, but to have won it and the players allowed me to put on my equipment, asked me to put on my equipment and go on the ice and hoist it one last time, to have a day like today and be able to share it with my family and the people of Blainville, it's very touching."
After posing for Stanley Cup photos with his family and friends, Dupuis personally greeted his hometown fans after they each had the opportunity to pose for their own photos with the Cup.
"There is a list somewhere that says Blainville is one of the top 10 places to live in Canada," Dupuis said. "You see that Blainville is a young and dynamic town with a great quality of life. So with four kids, I wanted to give something back. I want to share this as much as I can with the people who helped me over the course of my career, who supported me and were always there.
"I have had plenty of highs and lows the past three years, maybe more lows than highs, but I'll make sure I enjoy finishing on a high note here at home with the Stanley Cup. It's going to be a special day."
There were plenty of Penguins T-shirts, caps and jerseys worn by members of the crowd, including several sporting Dupuis' No. 9. A raffle of three signed jerseys raised $3,000 for the Miriam Foundation, a charity to help people with autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities.
Dupuis said he would spend the rest of his day with the Cup at home.
"They asked me not to bring it in the swimming pool but I can't say that won't happen," Dupuis said. "That's going to be very hard. We're going to have a good group over, family and really close friends, so we'll see what happens. It may end up in the pool. [Penguins assistant coach] Jacques Martin has it [Monday] so I'll try not to damage it too much before he gets it."