"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth" -- Mike Tyson
That quote went through my mind after the very hopeful quotes that Marc-Andre Fleury and Chris Kunitz offered on Thursday after informal practice at UPMC Lemieux.
First, the Flower, from the Trib
On where things stand between him and the Penguins: "I had a good talk with Jim and the coach when I left Pittsburgh for the summer. They basically both said the same thing. That’s where we’re at.
"I’ve always said this is like my home. I wish I could play here my whole career. I try to do my best for the team and for the organization.
"It’s the tough part of their job, but it’s the type of thing where they’re in good shape. Me and Matty (Murray) playing gives us a chance to win games and bottom line, that’s what matters. It doesn’t matter who’s in the net."
Then there's the ageless Chris Kunitz turn for encouraging quotes, from the Trib again
He's not ready to let age or an abundance of talented young wingers around him on the Penguins push him out of hockey, though.
"I think you want to play until they take you out of it," Kunitz said. "You look at some of the veteran guys around the league, the Cullens and the Jagrs, some bodies hold up longer and better than others.
"As long as you can go out there and still contribute to your team, I think that's the main indicator, that you're still having fun and enjoying what you're doing."
I didn't expect him to treat this season (where he turns 37 in ten days) as a victory lap - after all, Bill Guerin still went to Philly on a PTO for camp in 2010, among many others to make them "take you out of it" but one would hope this is it for Kunitz in Pittsburgh.
He can still be a valuable player, even in advanced age, but the stats tell a story about how Father Time remains undefeated
Kunitz has been instrumental on this team since 2009, but he has been on the down-swing since an unreal peak in 2014. Kunitz remains a favorite of Sidney Crosby. And Sidney Crosby wouldn't be pleased with someone that can't do what he needs. As said above, though, Father Time comes back to everyone. Unless Kunitz has a wild resurgence, 2016-17 should be the last one for him in black and gold.
Either way, though, you would want, hope and expect Marc-Andre Fleury and Chris Kunitz to feel good before the season. And for both to think they have plenty of good hockey to come. And, hopefully they do because 82 games (and hopefully a long playoff run) ahead, so there will be the need for both these important players to play well.
However, realistically, with the expansion draft for the goal situation, and the passing of time, changes will be needed in 2017 if the Penguins want to be a Stanley Cup contender after this season. Kunitz is an alternate captain, Fleury might as well be if goalies could get that distinction. They're very important players in the coming season. But time stops for no man and the 2017-18 Penguins team will have to look a lot different and as of now, one would have to think this is the last rodeo in Pittsburgh for both these two-time Pittsburgh Cup winners with the Pens.