Waddling and wobbling, a playoff spot for the birds in Black and Gold looked tenuous and even doubtful.
The losses of Marian Hossa, Ryan Malone, Jarkko Ruutu, Georges Laraque, Colby Armstrong, Ty Conklin, Gary Roberts among others, all added to the reasons cited why the Pingu Posse wasn't marching any more.
But hockey is a sport where everything can change in unexpected ways.
Today, the Pens celebrate their first Stanley Cup since the days of Super Mario.
There has and will be much written about how and why they did it, but what this thread will focus on is 'what happens next?' for the newly crowned World Champions.
Pessimists will go on about how GM Ray Shero can't possibly keep the team together; optimists will talk about how the Pens are poised to recapture the glory days in Steeltown.
Somewhere between the two, there's an objective view.
Yahoo Sports offers its snapshot, and a hint of its perspective to be further elaborated, in its latest Team Report:
INSIDE SHOTS: PITTSBURGH PENGUINS TEAM REPORT
Yahoo Sports, June 13, 2008
Fresh off their first Stanley Cup championship since 1992, the Penguins will face a far less stressful offseason than last year.
After losing in the 2008 Final, the Penguins faced a difficult challenge of retaining several key players. They ultimately lost wingers Marian Hossa, Ryan Malone, Jarkko Ruutu, Gary Roberts and Adam Hall.
This summer, the Penguins will look to extend the contract of defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who is entering the last year of his pact.
The Penguins are also looking to re-sign winger Ruslan Fedotenko, who is an unrestricted free agent, and work on extensions for young defensemen Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski.
A tough decision will be whether to keep backbone defenseman Rob Scuderi.
The Penguins’ core—centers Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and defenseman Brooks Orpik—are locked into contracts for the next four seasons.
Penguins 2, Red Wings 1: Pittsburgh won at Detroit on Friday to win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1992. Forward Max Talbot scored twice in the second period and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 22 shots as the Penguins completed rallies from 2-0 and 3-2 series deficits against the defending champion Red Wings. The Penguins are the first team to win the Cup after losing to the same team in a previous year’s final since the 1984 Edmonton Oilers.
• C Sidney Crosby missed most of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final because of a left knee injury. Crosby was hurt in the second period on an into-the-boards collision with Red Wings LW Johan Franzen. Crosby returned for a brief shift in the third period but did not play the rest of the game. He will be fine for next season.
• The Penguins’ win Friday in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at Detroit was historic. They are the first NHL team since the 1971 Montreal Canadiens to win Game 7 on the road.
• C Max Talbot led all players with four goals in the Stanley Cup Final. Talbot finished the playoffs with eight goals, only four fewer than his regular-season total.
Quote To Note: “I don’t know how to explain it. I got to lift the Cup.”—D Hal Gill on winning his first NHL title Friday.
• C Evgeni Malkin won the Conn Smythe as Stanley Cup playoff MVP. Malkin finished the playoffs with 14 goals and 36 points. His point total was the most since 1993, when Kings C Wayne Gretzky topped all scorers with 40 points. Malkin is the first Russian to win the Smythe.
• RW Petr Sykora did not play in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final because of a broken left foot. Sykora was injured Tuesday in Game 6 at Mellon Arena on a blocked shot. He was replaced in the lineup for Game 7 by RW Miroslav Satan, who won the Cup 11 years after his Buffalo Sabres lost Game 6 to the Dallas Stars.
So the question, as always, is 'Can They Repeat?'
When the answer is, 'Who Knows'?
No team has won successive Cups since 1998, and this year featured the only two teams that have been back to the Cup Finals in successive years, since the Devils in 2001.
Interestingly, as a player, Dan Bylsma, according to his Wiki bio, "struggled his entire career to stay in the NHL, mostly due to a lack of natural offensive ability (his primary role in the NHL had always been penalty killing). Injuries took a toll in later years, and before being put on waivers in January 2004, Bylsma missed 31 games due to knee surgery. He retired from playing following the 2003-04 season."
Bylsma was perhaps the definitive 'Cup Finals bridesmaid' in the Pens' dressing room: he'd been there as a player under his now rival coach Mike Babc0ck when Babs led the Mighty Ducks in an unsuccessful bid for the bowl in 2003.
As the saying goes, 'Funny how what goes around, comes around'.
So what does Ray Shero do now?
The competition only gets tougher.
What assets does he, and what problems will he, have?
What steps can/should he take?
What do the Penguins need to make it all happen again?
And is it even possible?
And who will their fiercest rivals be? Who can take the Cup away from them next year?
Over to you, GM Hockey Members.
Last edited by davetherave on Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:58 am; edited 2 times in total