The day the Pittsburgh Penguins took their first shot at reaching their second consecutive Stanley Cup Final was an important anniversary in my relationship with the team. Unlike those involving my wife, which I remember with religious fervor, I forgot all about this one.
Yes, I wrote on May 23, 2016, with the Penguins trailing Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference finals by a margin of three games to two, that Sidney Crosby was not an emphatic enough leader to push his teammates past the playoff petulance that had ruled their springs throughout this decade. When the Pens rallied to defeat the Lightning and reach the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals, I responded by tweeting I was fine with being proven wrong.
Lundqvist is 35 and his best years are clearly behind him. His main supporting cast members, in particular Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Derek Stepan, Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh, are still above-average contributors, but they aren’t getting younger.
Ultimately, we have some philosophical differences on how to build our team. Therefore, we mutually agreed that it is in everyone’s best interest to have a coaching change in order to move our franchise forward.
A couple suspect whistles (and non-whistles) irked both sides, including Predators superfan Carrie Underwood. The country music star and wife of Nashville captain Mike Fisher, already in hot water these playoffs for her social media thoughts on officiating, made it clear she felt the refs were out of line.
Suddenly all the pent-up anger went away when Kessel broke through with 6:55 remaining in the game.
The NHL free agency signing period began Saturday (noon ET), and teams around the league are wasting no time going after players they hope can improve their rosters. Here’s a look at some of the big names around the league who are either changing places or staying put with a new deal with their existing team.
The high-scoring defenseman is headed to the New York Rangers, after agreeing to a four-year deal that will pay him $6.65 million per year. TSN’s Frank Seravalli was first to report the deal. The New York Post reports that Shattenkirk had offers for far more money on longer-term deals, but the 28-year-old New Rochelle, N.Y., native liked the Rangers’ situation. Shattenkirk finished fourth in scoring among NHL defensemen with 56 points last season. He began the season in St. Louis, but went over to the Capitals in a trade in late February. He scored 14 points in 19 regular season games with the Caps, and added six points in the postseason.
In his eighth game back, Crosby was on the receiving end of a big hit from the Bruins’ David Krejci, who was accused of elbowing. The Penguins originally announced Crosby would sit out two games as a precaution, but two games turned into an indefinite absence when concussion symptoms flared up again. The fear was it would turn into another lost season for Crosby, who at the time was 24 and just entering his prime. Worse, would recurring concussions prematurely end his career?
Crosby was diagnosed with his third known concussion Oct. 10 sustained during a preseason practice, costing him first six games of this past season. He otherwise stayed healthy and played 75 games, leading the NHL with 44 goals.
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How can they overcome it?
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Maybe they didn’t know where or how to begin.
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