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Penguins Perspectives: It's the most wonderful time of the year, and we could miss it once again

Ireland Contracting Nightly Sports Call: Feb. 29, 2024
Ireland Contracting Nightly Sports Call: Feb. 29, 2024 16:45

Welcome to Penguins Perspectives, a weekly column by KDKA-TV Digital Producer Patrick Damp. Each Friday, Patrick will talk about the week that was, the week to come, what to watch for, and more.

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - As the Penguins continue their push to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and as it continues to look more and more likely the team will not get a seat at Lord Stanley's Table for the second straight season, I got to thinking. 

When we started Penguins Perspectives last season, it was just about that - perspectives. 

While we've been extremely blessed since Craig Patrick announced the pick of Sidney Patrick Crosby all the way back in 2005, lately it's felt somewhat like a curse. 

Poor performances, missing the playoffs, and letting the thought creep into our heads that maybe this nearly two-decade run is coming to its end - it's been, relatively, hard times in Penguins Land. 

Again, though, I got to thinking about the Stanley Cup Playoffs and I wanted to wax poetic about them as they are a little over a month away. 

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are often called the toughest tournament in sports. Four wins, four times, and the most iconic trophy in professional sports is yours. Well, it's not yours, you borrow it. 

Sure, your names get etched on it and those rings remain until the room runs out and they take their rightful place among the greats at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. 

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are a season of hope. Not just for your favorite team, but for you as a person. The days start getting a little longer. The sun hangs in the sky later into the day. The temperatures start rising and the thought of seeing that magnificent trophy skated around the ice by your favorite players is intoxicating. 

It's the time of year when you walk outside, smell the spring air, don a black and gold jersey, and know whoever you cross paths with is going to have the same conversation.

"You think they'll win tonight?" 
"You bet they will."

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are the time of year when that little-known prospect or trade deadline acquisition becomes a hero that lives in the lore of your franchise for all time. Like a little-known Swedish goaltender with the nickname Moose goes on a months-long run and captures the hearts of a city to the point Parkway signs get vandalized to say "Hedberg" instead of "Heidelberg." 

It's when an eccentric Quebecois who nicknamed himself "Superstar" goes out, drops the gloves, gets beat up, but still tells a hostile Philadelphia crowd to shush. While it may not have changed the game materially, it became a rallying point for a young team to push forward to their first title. 

It's the time of year that we recall so fondly when an extremely talented core of players looked like one Stanley Cup would be their biggest crowning achievement, only for a charismatic coach, some young guns, and a cast-off for the Toronto Maple Leafs to help them turn around and win consecutive championships. 

It's two months of the toughest hockey of the year but it's also the two months of the year when anything is possible. They're intense, heart-rate spiking, and breathtaking, but they're worth it. 

It's the best time of year and we sure miss it. 

Yes, we have been completely spoiled, not just in the Sidney Crosby era, but since a big boy from Montreal donned a Penguns sweater. 

That said, there's one sure-fire way to give this current generation of Penguins the send-off they deserve: another run. 

Championships are never guaranteed, but they can be prepared for. 

This offseason, if Fenway Sports Group and Kyle Dubas truly believe in this group, they'll do whatever it takes to make another climb up the mountain before the sun sets. 

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