NHL: Pens parade could be first of many


Mon, Jun 15, 2009 - Page 19

Pittsburgh was busy planning a parade for their Stanley Cup champion Penguins on Saturday, which could be the first of many to come for the Steel City.

With the core of their team just barely old enough to legally drink the champagne being chugged in their dressing room following a gritty 2-1 Game Seven win over Detroit that clinched the Cup on Friday, the Penguins appear well positioned to take a run at many more championships.

When 21-year-old Sidney Crosby, who stills lives in team owner Mario Lemieux’s guest house, skated forward to accept the treasured trophy from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman he became the youngest captain to hoist the Stanley Cup.

But the Canadian is not even the youngest player on a talent-laden roster that forms the nucleus of what many believe could develop into the next NHL dynasty.

Jordan Staal, who scored a shorthanded goal in Game Four that shifted the series momentum to Pittsburgh, is just 20, while resilient netminder Marc-Andre Fleury is a battle-hardened 24.

Evgeni Malkin, who led both the regular season and playoffs in scoring and collected Conn Smythe trophy honors as the Stanley Cup MVP, is just 22 and next week could add the Hart trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player to his haul.

“That’s a great thought,” laughed Penguins coach Dan Bylsma when asked if the Penguins’ Cup win was just the start of something special. “That’s a great thought and it’s a dream. But there’s a lot of hard work and building and laying a foundation every year that goes into every year.”

“It doesn’t happen without building that foundation on day one and day two. They just don’t hand you a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals again the second year,” he said. “So we’re going to enjoy this one ... and come September we’ll start building the foundation again for what this team could possibly do.”

A dynamic, forward-thinking coach, who was working in the minors at the start of the season, Bylsma has proven to be a perfect fit for the young Penguins.

Taking over the floundering squad in mid-February from sacked Michel Therrien, Bylsma guided Pittsburgh into the playoffs with an 18-3-4 run to close the regular season.