Thursday, June 13, 2013

Winning the Stanley Cup is extremely difficult, but somehow the Penguins have underachieved since 2009

NHL fans love, I mean, love to go on and on about how unbelievably difficult it is for a team to win a Stanley Cup. "It's the toughest trophy to win in all of sports! Four best of seven series are such a grind!"

No argument there.

Of course, this sentiment goes out the window when a team has the two best hockey players in the world, like the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have only managed to win one Stanley Cup and appear in another Final since 2008. Pittsburgh joins the Red Wings and the loser of the Bruins/Blackhawks Cup series in accomplishing that same feat over the same time-span. I don't know how those other fan bases feel about that, and I don't know how the front offices of those teams feel about that, but I know in Pittsburgh, it's a clear sign of underachieving, and the fans and front office, alike, have been doing some serious soul searching since last Friday night.

Penguins gm Ray Shero met with the media for a postseason debriefing on Wednesday where he announced the contract extension of coach Dan Bylsma, who was on the hot seat after his team bowed out of the Eastern Conference finals and missed making it to the Stanley Cup Finals for the fourth straight season.

Shero was praised for his openness and candor about the front office's disappointment in the team's shortcomings in recent years (including those of the just extended head coach), and while I admire the organization's determination to be No. 1, it isn't like the Penguins lost to a bunch of stiffs when they were swept by Boston.

As I touched on in a previous paragraph, the Bruins won the Stanley Cup just two seasons ago and entered this postseason as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference after missing out on the Northeast Division title (and 2nd overall seed) by a mere point.

Should superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have played better against Boston? Absolutely, but credit has to be given to the Bruins for taking Pittsburgh's offensive stars out of their game and limiting the team to only two goals in the series. Believe me, if the Penguins had played that kind of defense against Boston, we would run out of ways to praise such a performance.

As for the hockey fans who were screaming for Bylsma to go, you can't have it both ways. You can't stand around and beat your chest about how extremely difficult it is to win a Stanley Cup and then complain when your team "only" has one over the past five seasons.

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