The Pittsburgh Penguins have done it. For the first time in seven years and the fourth time in 50 years, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup. The series was 4 games to 2.
The San Jose Sharks made it farther they have ever gone in their franchise's 25 year century, to their first ever Stanley Cup Final appearance.
The Penguins and Sharks had successful seasons to say the least, but they got to the Final speaks to the matter of trust.
With the losing team, there were rumors (and still are) that Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau could be moved. There was an apparent poor relationship between Thornton and general manager Doug Wilson. Both guys were even stripped of the captaincy.
Instead, they parted ways with now Edmonton coach Todd McCellean, and added Peter DeBoer. DeBoer was the former coach of the Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils, including a cup final trip with the Devils in 2012 against Los Angeles. They also added Martin Jones, Paul Martin, and Joel Ward at the loss of Antti Niemi and a first round pick. At the trade deadline, they added four ex-Maple Leafs- Roman Polak, Nick Spaling, James Reimer, and Jeremy Morin. The cost was two second picks, a fourth round pick, Raffi Torres, Alex Stalock, and Ben Smith.
In the postseason, they overpowered the Los Angeles Kings in five games. In round two, they squeezed by a game seven win over Nashville. In the conference finals, they beat a talented St. Louis Blues team. In the Stanley Cup Finals, we know the result.
The Penguins had a first half filled with inconsistencies. They were struggling to string wins, and had no idea who to use where. Pittsburgh eventually fired Mike Johnston and promoted Mike Sullivan from the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, and brought up a bunch of the guys down there with him. Sullivan had experience after working with Columbus coach John Tortorella in New York and Vancouver. With the Baby Penguins, he developed trust in Bryan Rust, Thomas Kuhnhackl, and Connor Sheary. Sheary was playing with Sidney Crosby in the playoffs; Rust helped Pittsburgh in Game 7 against Tampa Bay; and Kuhnhackl played a secondary role. Sullivan also formed the famous HBK line- Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino, and Phil Kessel.
They quickly went through the New York Rangers in five games. In Washington, they outplayed the Capitals in six. They outlasted a talented Lightning team in seven. They easily controlled the Sharks in six games and won the Stanley Cup.
The Conne Smyth Trophy went to Sidney Crosby, for being a dominant player in the final two rounds, and having two points in game six. Though he wasn't as impressive player the entire postseason, he came through when it mattered, and it helped the team he leads with the C on his chest. After being the first to lift the Cup, he passed it to Trevor Daley, who missed the Final with a broken ankle. Also, the retired Pascal Dupuis had a final go round with the Cup on the ice.
What are your thoughts on the Penguins, the new Stanley Cup Champions?
More to come…