Even now, 16 years after all the questions and all the answers about the moment that forever will be his crowning professional achievement, Ray Bourque still can get emotional.
All his hockey dreams came true June 9, 2001, when Colorado Avalanche captain Joe Sakic handed him the Stanley Cup after the Avalanche defeated the New Jersey Devils in Game 7 of the Final.
Bourque had determined that win or lose, it would be his final NHL game after 22 seasons.
"It was really an incredible experience, and one that I really wish that every single hockey player could live," Bourque said recently. "It just shows how hard it really is to win and how so many things have to go your way and have to go right in terms of luck."
The season prior, Bourque had requested a trade from the Boston Bruins, something he said was the "toughest call I ever made professionally." At that time, the Bruins were not in a position to compete for the Stanley Cup. Harry Sinden, the Bruins general manager at the time, was the same person who had selected Bourque with the eighth pick of the 1979 NHL Draft.
Video: Memories: Bourque wins the Stanley Cup after 22 years
Bourque was traded to the Avalanche on March 6, 2000, but they lost to the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final. A year later, they reached the Final.
The plan for Bourque to be the first person to get the Cup from Sakic had been in the making since the plane ride from New Jersey to Colorado after the Avalanche won Game 6. Bourque tried to talk Sakic out of it.
"The whole experience of that game itself was crazy, going up 3-0, actually thinking that I was going to win the Cup and trying to control your emotions and trying to bring yourself back into the present and not letting your mind wander," Bourque said. "You come to the bench and [I was] having a hard time actually breathing because I think I'm going to faint on the ice, so struck with emotions."
And once they had won, no sooner had Sakic taken the Cup from Commissioner Gary Bettman that he passed it to Bourque.
"A lot of things going through your mind at that point," Bourque said. "About family, there are a lot of ex-teammates that I played with that you wish you could share it with."
Video: Ray Bourque capped career with dramatic Cup in 2001
He wasn't the only one who felt that way. He certainly wasn't the only one who celebrated a moment that had been 22 seasons in the making.
"It was a jubilant time because my admiration for Ray was there when he arrived and is still there," Sinden said. "To have it happen, we felt really, really good that it could happen for Ray, that he could get his Cup. Felt really, really bad that it didn't happen with the Bruins, where it should have happened to cap off a career like he had."
But mostly it was a feeling of joy, even if Sinden still chafes at the memory of Bourque bringing the Stanley Cup to City Hall Plaza in Boston to celebrate.
Bourque finished his career as the NHL all-time leader among defensemen in goals (410), assists (1,169) and points (1,579), won the Norris Trophy five times, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004, and was named to the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian.
But 16 years after his one championship moment, Bourque doesn't mind talking about it.
"Never gets old," he said.
Video: 2001 Cup Final, Gm7: A Cup for Bourque