Enjoy It While It Lasts
The Pittsburgh Penguins are amidst a 14 game winning streak, the longest of the season and the second longest in team history, but miraculously, it’s not the most exciting topic of the week.
In a matter of four days, general manager Ray Shero has turned this top-ranked team into a powerhouse, adding three of the most sought-after targets leading up to the trade deadline.
What we’re witnessing is extremely rare in a salary cap league, and something we likely won’t see from the Penguins for the balance of the Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin era.
A perfect storm of excess cap space and stockpiled assets have given Shero the opportunity not only to add to his team, but to add a lot to his team.
I’ve heard many say this season is “Cup or bust,” and to some extent I agree. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
When Jarome Iginla arrives, the Penguins will have one of, if not the most, star-studded rosters since the mini-dynasty Penguins of the early 1990s.
Enjoy it while it lasts, even if it doesn’t bring the Stanley Cup back to Pittsburgh.
In the next few years we will see Shero challenged with re-signing Malkin, Kris Letang, Chris Kunitz, and Brooks Orpik — not to mention Iginla, Brendan Morrow, and Douglas Murray, if he sees them as long-term fits.
Quite simply, something will have to give, as salary cap will take a steep dive for next season and Letang, for example, is in for as much as a 200 percent pay raise.
We may well see some of these players retained for the long haul. We also may see some of them cut loose sooner than we would like. The point is, we don’t know what’s in store for this team. And, while we know the Penguins will remain a perennial contender as long as Crosby is wearing the Black and Gold, we also know from the Mario Lemieux era that the Stanley Cup can be ever elusive, even for the best player in the game.
So, once again, I say enjoy it while it lasts.
Don’t take for granted the level of talent in Pittsburgh — savor every minute you watch Crosby, Malkin, Iginla, Neal, Kunitz, Letang….should I go on?
Don’t critique every turnover, failed power play, or goal-against — look at the bigger picture and take in every unbelievable pass, laser goal, or bone-crunching hit.
Don’t fret the inevitable loss or disappointing game — enjoy all the dominating performances, like we saw last night.
The next few months are going to be exciting, and while anything other than a Stanley Cup Championship would seem like an epic failure, remember that 16 teams make the playoffs and every one of them has a drive to win.
Make no mistake, Pittsburgh has become the team to beat and likely will remain so regardless of the trades over the next few days.
But that just means the Penguins will have a target on their back and every team will bring their best to slay the giant.
A Stanley Cup is not inevitable. But a fun run is.
Enjoy it. This is a ride that won’t last.