Time was, the unwritten rule observed after a hockey team wins its conference were unflinchingly rigid. The team captain would make out as if he would rather caress a porcupine than handle the trophy that only symbolized taking the penultimate step on the playoff journey.
There was no rational basis for it, but myth always tend to beat facts. The Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby picked up the NHL's Prince of Wales Trophy in 2009 and his team went on to capture the Stanley Cup. Maybe that's trickled down to other millennial athletes realizing it's all a silly ritual. Mississauga St. Michael's Majors captain Casey Cizikas had no qualms about picking up the OHL's Bobby Orr Trophy after the Majors won the Eastern Conference.
"You know what, it was something we worked hard for," Cizikas, a New York Islanders prospect, said Monday during a conference call ahead of Tuesday's Game 1 of the OHL final. "It definitely wasn't easy getting it. To earn something like that, you definitely have to experience the moment. I didn't really think about it, I just grabbed it to express that it's a team thing and I brought it over to the guys and we celebrated together."
'Have to pick it up'
Cizikas' counterpart, Owen Sound Attack left wing Garrett Wilson, did observe the protocol after his team won the Western Conference the following night. The Florida Panthers prospect accepted the Wayne Gretzky Trophy from OHL commissioner David Branch but divested himself of it as quickly as possible. With the trophy placed on a table, the Attack gathered around it for a team photo, but were careful not to touch it.
"I was told I have to accept it and have to pick it up," said Wilson, putting a drawn-out inflection on the first have. "I was very honoured and I recognized it's the Wayne Gretzky Trophy. We got a picture with it, but our main goal is to win the OHL championship."
We're all wise enough to know it won't matter how either team handled it after advancing to the final. Still, it's neat to get each captain's explanation.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports . Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photo: OHL Images).