With the Penguins heading into Game 7 this Friday, with a chance to win the third Stanley Cup in franchise history, this Pens fan is thinking back over all the things that have happened since the last Cup win. Things like:
1. The 1992-1993 season, when our star player was diagnosed with cancer, missed a third of a season, and still won the scoring title. And when our President's Trophy-winning team choked in the second round against the Islanders.
2. A lot of seasons in which we scored a ton of goals, played no defense, and did nothing in the playoffs.
3. The league continued its proud tradition of due diligence in allowing a crook named Howard Baldwin to buy the team. He ran it like a Ponzi scheme, and ran it into the ground. Which led to the second-best player in franchise history being traded to the Capitals in a salary dump.
4. The league also continued its proud tradition of building strong relationships with passionate, profitable hockey markets, by threatening for the better part of a decade to relocate the Penguins unless the city built a new arena with taxpayer dollars. Let's not forget that the city was in receivership at the time (i.e., not exactly flush with tax revenue). So, to review, the NHL was trying to shake down a bankrupt city for tax dollars, and telling that city that its unwillingness to do so meant that Pittsburgh just didn't care about hockey in a way that, say, Kansas City would. In colloquial terms, this is called kicking someone who isn't your enemy in the teeth while they're down.
5. Then there was last season's playoff run. And this season's adversity, followed by this season's playoff run.
6. Then came this series with Detroit, which has become known for two things: (1) two highly skilled, evenly matched teams; and (2) the Red Wings getting very favorable officiating each time they've needed a win at home. The latter didn't matter in game 5, but it arguably made a huge difference in game 2.
So, after almost 20 seasons of frustrations and disappointments, all I ask from the NHL is this: a fairly called game 7. You can let everything go on both sides if you want, but I'm changing the channel when the Wings get their 25th power play chance.