BRIDGESTONE ARENA JUNE 11, 2017
THE PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
stood at center ice of Bridge stone Arena, barely mustering the strength to lift a 35-pound trophy over their heads. They were more relieved than happy, a physically and mentally drained group who could not possibly get their heads around the magnitude of what they had just accomplished. They established themselves as one of the NHL’s all-time great teams, winning the Cup not once, but twice in an era when repeating is more difficult than ever. There’s a reason why the Detroit Red Wings were the last team to do it 19 years ago. As great as the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings have been, they never did it. No team had done it in the salary cap era, and you could argue no team overcame more adversity to win than these Penguins. “We met on Day 1 of camp and the first thing I said was, ‘Everybody is telling us we can’t do it. History is telling us, all the experts are telling us we can’t repeat,’ ” said coach Mike Sullivan. “And my challenge to them was, ‘Why not?’ We weren’t going to let anyone else write our story. These guys wanted to write the story themselves, and they did it.” With their best defenseman out and a six-man group that was running on fumes, the Pens managed to get it done against a defense corps that is unparalleled in the NHL. All Pittsburgh’s ‘D’ did was not allow a goal in the final two games of the Cup final (albeit there’s little doubt Colton Sissons’ second-period goal, blown dead prematurely by referee Kevin Pollock, should’ve counted). The Penguins won with a Conn Smythe Trophy performance from Sidney Crosby, the best player in the world and a player who, in GM Jim Rutherford’s opinion, now has to be considered among the top three or four players of all-time.