Monday, August 4, 2008

Pens Best Shot At A Title? Please.

This one was posted June 5 as well, the day after the Penguins lost Game Six to the Red Wings as I wrote it as a shot to those on the radio that day who were worried the Pens had missed their chance! Can you believe that?

It was a bit of a tough pill to swallow last night, watching our beloved Penguins season come to an end. Sure, it was our most successful run, and absolutely exceeded the pre-season expectations of any rational Pens fan, but still, you can't tell me that as the playoffs went forward, the thought of hoisting Lord Stanley's chalice hadn't crept into the nether regions of your mind., especially all those band wagon fans who broke many a bone jumping off the band wagon this morning after the season ended and they were able to talk Pens one last time with their co-workers before forgetting everything Pens that they have seen since jumping on the bandwagon a few months back.
When you see this kind of success in a team that is perceived as being mostly young, the natural assumption is also to take a look forward and ponder aloud the ever-so-dangerous word- "Dynasty?" and then analyze the roster to see if it's feasible, and almost universally, and in typical Pittsburgh fashion, the answer to this utterance has been nearly unanimous: "No".
AHA! I scream back at you naysayers, I couldn't be any more vehement in my disagreement. The constant over-analysis in the local media of the upcoming offseason has been simply unbearable, especially being that it began BEFORE THE FREAKING PLAYOFFS EVEN STARTED!!! Anywho, the analysis, though overdone and overshadowing an otherwise magnificent run, is not without merit. This is after all, the single most important offseason that this team has ever faced. Marian Hossa, Ryan Malone, Brooks Orpik, Pascal Dupuis, Marc-Andre Fleury (Restricted), and several others are all free agents after the season, and it is fully expected that both Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal will have discussions with the team about long term deals.
All of these players needing new contracts at once coupled with the team's success makes it a near certainty that some of the most important players will be gone by the time the puck drops next October (looking squarely at Marian Hossa). I fully understand all of this talk, but seriously Pittsburgh, what the hell? And by that, I of course mean, what's with the naysaying? How did we all seemingly come to the agreement that this is the best shot that a team whose best players can't even rent cars legally will have in their time together? Are they going to lose Hossa, Malone, and Orpik? Almost certainly. And, yes, absolutely, I expect our point total to decrease next year, but with a nucleus of Sidney Crosby (the greatest player on the face of the planet), Evgeni Malkin (one of the 5 best players on the planet and a perfect sniper for Crosby), Marc-Andre Fleury (a future Vezina Winner), Ryan Whitney (an All-Star defenseman in the making), and Jordan Staal (a Selke Award winner in the making), there's absolutely no way this team won't be a force to be reckoned with. Especially when you consider they will all get better over the next 5 years or so, to the point that if Geno, Fleury, and Staal all sign 5+ year deals, I guarantee at least 2 cups in that time, and I think that's conservative.
Look, the NHL is a much changed league, and I personally think the Pens are ahead of the curve. I fully expect the league to turn into a similar creature to the NBA in the next 5 years. By this, I mean that each team will revolve around a small core of players (mostly younger ones), and role players and veterans will stick to shorter 2 and 3 year deals that sees them rotate around the league like mercenaries. So naturally, the core around which the team is built becomes the most important facet, more so then these roles guys the Pens may lose (with the expection of Hossa of course), and in this New NHL, give me this core of Pens over anything anyone else can muster.

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