Like most native Western Pennsylvanians, I’m a huge fan of our Pittsburgh sports teams. I cheered on our Steelers as they won the Super Bowl this year, I was as irate as any of our players and fans when the stupid Pirates management traded yet another of our best baseball players for more “prospects”, and I’m just coming down from the roller-coaster ride that was the Stanley Cup playoffs between Detroit and our awesome young Pittsburgh Penguins. Living with men, I’ve come to enjoy watching most sports — but I have to say, Penguins hockey is my favorite to watch. It’s just so fast-paced and physical.
Last year, our Pens also made it to the Stanley Cup finals, against the very same team — the Detroit Red Wings. Well, the teams weren’t exactly the same; the core players were still there, but some of the personnel had changed. The Penguins even had a different coach. And the outcome — well, the outcome was a complete turnaround.
Even if you have no interest in sports, there are some interesting life lessons in our Pens journey to the Cup. In mid-February, despite having some awesome talent on our team, we were in 10th place in the Eastern Conference and five points out of a playoff spot. With a little tweaking (and a new head coach), the Pens were amazingly able to turn things around to secure a coveted spot in the final series.
Craig Adams, a winger we picked up from Chicago off waivers joined our team on March 4th. If he hadn’t been picked up by anyone, his hockey career could have been over. Instead, he took this new opportunity, played with gusto for his new team, and three short months later was hoisting the Stanley Cup, the pinnacle of success in the NHL, into the air.
Veteran player Marian Hossa was a force to be reckoned with last year. He scored 12 goals and 26 points for our Pittsburgh Penguins. Even though we didn’t win the cup, we realized what an asset Hossa was and offered him a reported seven-year, $50 million deal. He kind of shocked the fans by turning down this vote of confidence and signing on with our opponent, the Red Wings, for a$7.45 million 1-year deal because he claimed the move gave him “the best chance to win the Cup.” Talk about a slap in the face? It’s kind of like those yoo-hoos on “Deal Or No Deal” who turn down a sure $250,000 for a shot at winning a million — or nothing. And Marian kinda got nothing this year.
The seven-game series this year was phenomenal. Both teams are fantastic. I seriously believe it came down to who wanted it more. Detroit wanted it, sure, but they had their turn last year. The young Pens, who watched the Red Wings take victory laps around our home ice last year, “never wanted to feel that way again.” And with a whole lot of heart and determination, they didn’t have to, at least not this year.