Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo hoisted up the Stanley Cup for the second time in his career Tuesday night, but for him, holding his healthy 4-year-old daughter was an even more precious moment.
Pietrangelo, 32, revealed in December that his daughter, Evelyn, came down with the flu over Thanksgiving, which caused her to develop encephalitis, a condition that causes the brain to swell due to infection.
The condition led to a lesion forming on her brain, causing her to lose all motor skills.
But nearly six months later, Pietrangelo was joined by his family on the ice to celebrate winning the Stanley Cup after defeating the Florida Panthers in Game 5 in a moment he could only describe as a "dream."
"You have to understand what it means for her to be here with me, with us, like this," Pietrangelo said via NHL.com. "Six months ago, she couldn't eat, she couldn't talk, she couldn't walk. Six months ago, I was ready to give up my career for her."
"I never envisioned a moment like this back then. And now, to win a Cup, to have her running around the ice to celebrate with us, I mean, dreams do come true. And this is a dream."
Pietrangelo said in December that he was willing to take as long an absence from the team as needed to be with his family: "So be it," he said at the time.
"There’s more to life than some things. And whether it's this job or another job, I felt like I needed to be there for not only my family but my wife, too," he said in his first remarks since returning.
Winning the Stanley Cup even once is a dream for most NHL players. Pietrangelo has done it twice, but the real celebration is no doubt being able to do it knowing his daughter has her health.
"This is the most surreal moment of my life," he said Tuesday night. "To have her here in my arms, celebrating Daddy's Stanley Cup win, just to celebrate anything."