[1 year and 6 days since the original article, 1 year and 4 days since ours]
NEW YORK CITY — The Penguins may be out the playoffs already – c’mon, they lost to the fifth seed, really? – but at least one Pittsburgh team won this hockey season.
Yep, you guessed it – the Pirates.
Now that the Penguins have gone belly-up in the playoffs for the fifth time in six years in the Sidney Crosby era, maybe we’ll hear less about how their ownership will turn around the Pirates in no time if given the chance.
The fact is, despite every conceivable advantage from first or second overall choices in four consecutive drafts to the mother of all lottery picks to a league that operates with a salary cap to a pucks-mad fan base, the Penguins have been unable to dominate their own division let alone the entire league.
Or did you know that, while the Pirates have gone 18 years without a sniff of .500, the Penguins have hoisted exactly one Stanley Cup in that period?
Pure and simple, like the Pirates over the years, the Penguins have made mistakes in the draft and the open market. Lots of them.
For instance, take the 2003 draft, in which the Penguins owned the No. 1 pick on the heels of a anorexic 65-point season. (Yes, Bubba, they were dog breath themselves not that long ago.) The golden rule states that you never, ever select a goaltender at the No. 1 pick, but the Penguins chose Marc-Andre Fleury, anyway. Here are some of players that they could have taken instead — Jaroslav Halak, Dan Carcillo, Nikolai Zherdev, Patrice Bergeron, Matt Carle, Maxim Lapierre, Eric Fehr, Jimmy Howard . . .
Hey, maybe Chad Hermansen wasn’t that bad, after all. Sorry, forget I wrote that.
Here it is, six years after Crosby was drafted, and the guy still doesn’t have a regular linemate that is in the same zip code as his talent level. Quick — name the last legit 30-goal-scorer to be developed in the Penguins farm system.
OK, 25 then.
Uh, 20? TK?
God help the franchise if Sid the Kid goes down like he did for an extended period this season. Cart him off and the Penguins aren’t even the Tampa Bay Lightning all of a sudden.
I wouldn’t wish that on even a Philadelphia Flyer let alone Crosby, who represents everything that is good about professional sports. I wouldn’t wish that on Ted Leonsis let alone Mario Lemieux, a guy that only the devil could root against.
It’s just that, before people wish for the Penguins to step in and save the baseball team in this town, they should remember that the Penguins have to help themselves first.