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The decision of who gets to hoist the Stanley Cup in triumph after the team captain is sometimes an easy one, such as when a team has a veteran near the end of his career who hasn't won a championship before.
And sometimes it's a very special moment.
Sidney Crosby added another emotional chapter to the tradition of the Stanley Cup handoff by giving it to Trevor Daley in honor of his mother.
Daley had played 12 NHL seasons and missed the final nine playoff games this year with a broken ankle, but Crosby gave him the Cup first because his mother, Trudy, is battling cancer and she wanted to see this.
"He had been through some different playoffs, but getting hurt at the time he did, knowing how important it was, he had told me that he went and seen his mom in between series and stuff, she wasn't doing well, she wanted to see him with the Cup," Crosby said after the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 on Sunday night. "That was important to her. I think that kind of stuck with me after he told me that."
Much like Doug Weight of the Carolina Hurricanes struggling to lift the Cup with a bum shoulder in 2006, Daley needed to check with doctors to make sure he could skate and actually celebrate on his left ankle. The 32-year-old just wanted to hold the 34 ½-pound Cup — he just didn't realize he'd be the first after Crosby.
"I told him, 'No,' but he said, 'You got it first,'" Daley said. "'When I came out he said, 'You're first to get it.' It was pretty cool."
Then it went to popular teammate Pascal Dupuis, who had to stop playing hockey several months ago because of blood clots. Crosby said it was special to have Dupuis around and that it meant a lot for the 37-year-old winger to raise the Cup again after they won it together in 2009. Back then, Crosby gave it to trade-deadline acquisition Bill Guerin, who already had a ring.
Some of the most memorable handoffs have come when players finally win the Cup before calling it a career.
It was a no-brainer for Joe Sakic to hand the Cup to Ray Bourque in 2001 after the longtime Boston Bruins defenseman helped the Colorado Avalanche win it all in his 22nd and final NHL season. Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews knew in advance he would give it to Michal Handzus in 2013 and to veteran Kimmo Timonen last year.
Toews told Timonen during the morning skate of Game 6 in Chicago that he'd be getting it first.
"He said, 'Holy something,' and he skated off really fast," Toews said after the Blackhawks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning. "I kind of expected him to get fired up, maybe raise his heart rate a little bit."
Two years ago, an injured veteran defenseman also got the Cup first when Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown handed it to Robyn Regehr, who hadn't played since the second round because of a knee ailment.
Aside from Bourque, whose sentimental choice was a no-doubter, the most emotional Cup giveaway in recent history came after the Detroit Red Wings swept the Washington Capitals in 1998. Steve Yzerman gave it to Vladimir Konstantinov, who was in a wheelchair following a limousine accident the previous summer and never played again.
And now it's Daley's turn.
"He's a great player, but he's an even better person," Daley said of Crosby. "There's not much more you can say about that guy. He's a special guy."
AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow in San Jose, California, contributed to this report.